2018 W. NCAA Picks: 200 Fly Only Race Where Ella Eastin Is Untouchable



Stanford’s Ella Eastin has been very good at the 200 fly for a few years now. While her ventures in IM, which have extended to international successes that reach past the NCAA season (silvers in both IM races at the 2016 SC World Championships), have been the cornerstone moments in her career, her 200 fly has reached new levels this season.

The junior started making 1:51’s in the 200 fly look regular, going 1:51’s at 2016 Pac-12s, 2016 NCAAs, 2017 Pac-12s, and 2017 NCAAs. Elaine Breeden, a Stanford swimmer who came before Eastin, had set the fastest time ever at 1:49.92 back in 2009, which really stuck. In the current moment, with the Katie Ledeckys, Simone Manuels, and Lilly Kings of the world taking certain events to new heights, Breeden’s record held tough. That is, until last month, when Eastin breezed right past that mark with a 1:49.51.

Now, Eastin is a clear favorite for the 200 fly crown later this month. The same can’t be said for the IM specialist’s two other events– the 200 and 400 IM. Funnily enough, the events she’s known for are going to be her toughest to win; in the 200 IM, she’s up against defending NCAA champion and Bay Area rival Kathleen Baker as well as international IM competitor Sydney Pickrem. In the 400 IM, she must face Katie Ledecky, of all people. So, for Eastin, the conqueror of all four strokes, it may be the 200 butterfly where she’ll have the fewest obstacles on her path to an NCAA title.

USC’s Louise Hansson (by Tim Binning)

Only two other women, USC’s Louise Hansson and Stanford’s Katie Drabot, have been faster than 1:52 this season. Hansson, who took out her race against Eastin at Pac-12s with a blazing 51.81 and somehow held on after that, has been 1:51.13, while Drabot’s been 1:51.74. Whereas Eastin has found a new resurgence in this event, it’s a newer race for Hansson and Drabot. Both are sophomores, and neither swam it at NCAAs last year. Both women are insanely versatile, though, so it’s no surprise that they’re at the top of the national rankings this year in this event.

Past those three, only one other swimmer has even broken 1:53 this season– UGA senior Megan Kingsley. A more seasoned veteran in this event, Kingsley has battled back against injury (including two knee surgeries in 2017), and her 1:52.62 from SECs, a PR, ranks her fourth in the nation this season.

USC junior Maddie Wright (1:53.38), Texas sophomore Lauren Case (1:55.18) and junior Remedy Rule (1:55.25), Cal junior Katie McLaughlin (1:54.97), and UVA senior Jen Marrkand (1:53.55) return from last year’s A final. Case and Rule made the final last year for the Longhorns, only to have Rule disqualified in the final for allegedly going too far underwater off of the start. That DQ caused controversy at the conclusion of the meet, as UGA finished 4th in the team standings ahead of Texas by just a half point.

Cal’s Katie McLaughlin (by Tim Binning)

Cal’s McLaughlin is still looking to throw down the big times that her 2:06 LCM swim from 2015 suggest she’s capable of.  She’ll push for an A-Final along with teammate Noemie Thomas. Meanwhile, Virginia’s Marrkand could come forward with some intriguing time drops under the new direction of head coach Todd DeSorbo in her final NCAA Championships.

Texas A&M freshman Jing Quah (1:53.05), Michigan sophomore and Big Ten champion Vanessa Krause (1:53.44), Louisville sophomore Grace Oglesby (1:53.87), and Tennessee sophomore Meghan Small (1:53.97) are the remaining swimmers to have broken 1:54 this season. Quah, from Singapore, is a wild card as a freshman in her first season in yards, while the sophomores are a bit more experienced having grown up in the United States and having raced at NCAAs last year.


1 Ella Eastin Stanford 1:49.51 1:49.51
2 Katie Drabot Stanford 1:51.74 1:51.74
3 Louise Hansson USC 1:51.13 1:51.13
4 Megan Kingsley UGA 1:52.62 1:52.62
5 Jen Marrkand UVA 1:53.55 1:53.15
6 Katie McLaughlin Cal 1:54.97 1:52.37
7 Jing Quah Texas A&M 1:53.05 1:53.05
8 Maddie Wright USC 1:53.38 1:52.67

Dark horse: UGA’s Chelsie Britt. The senior was 1:54.44 to take 9th in prelims last year, three hundredths off of qualifying for the A final. This year, she’s seeded 14th in the nation with a 1:54.34.

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Coach Mike 1952
4 years ago

I hope I am speaking for those of us who were watching live when Ella broke the AR. Correct me if this is wrong, but all eyes – & until the last length – all attention were on Louise Hansson, who had taken it out so fast. Louise was not passed by Eastin till her full length underwater off last turn, but in the excitement of the moment, it wasn’t until the race was over that anyone realized the record had been broken.

4 years ago

She has three individual tough races, so she’ll just try to take them one at a time.

Has a swimmer ever won the 200 IM, 400 IM and 200 fly at the NCAA Women’s meet?

If she won 2 out 3, that would be a great meet. The 400 IM might be the toughest of all, having to battle Ledecky and Pickrem.

Reply to  marklewis
4 years ago

maybe Katinka?

Reply to  marklewis
4 years ago

Didn’t Eastin win all three her freshman year?

4 years ago

“…with the Katie Ledecky’s, Simone Manuel’s, and Lilly King’s of the world…”

Apostrophes don’t make something plural, they make it possessive.

And I can’t wait to see what Eastin can do in this event, she is amazing.

Coach Mike 1952
Reply to  Roch
4 years ago

Not only Ella, we want to see what they ALL can do, yeah? 🙂 It ought to be amazing.

4 years ago

What will be interesting is that other than Eastin’s outright fave status, high placement in this event will depend on energy management and meet endurance. 200 fly is already gruelling but on the last day of NC’s? Some of the faves may falter for this reason. Last day fatigue— it happens.

4 years ago

Swim Swam team, please try to get a hold on these mobile malware ads that are ruining the mobile user’s experience. It took me 5 attempts just to make this comment from my phone, while having it scream “CONGRATULATIONS YOU’VE WON” with other around. It’s a major nuisance

Know It All
Reply to  Paul
4 years ago

Use chrome app instead of safari

Reply to  Know It All
4 years ago

Still happens to me with Chrome

Reply to  Paul
4 years ago

I don’t have these. Maybe it’s an issue with your server?

Reply to  CraigH
4 years ago

It is a known issue, we’ve been working on it with the company that serves 3rd-party ads for a few weeks. They believe they’ve put in a fix, but feel free to email us if you guys continue to see them after today.

4 years ago

Eastin is a heavy favorite but I think Hansson has a shot. She dropped time at NCs last year, and if she can improve on that 51.8 / 59.3 race plan, she could push the 1:50 barrier.

Reply to  Caleb
4 years ago

Agreed, I’m looking forward to see if Hansson is able to make the pacing adjustments.

Coach Mike 1952
Reply to  Sccoach
4 years ago

Hope so – the “piano” alternative (a scenario so many of us have either witnessed or experienced – I am in the latter group) is so painful.

4 years ago

noemie thomas hasn’t been 2:06 LC. I think there’s confusion of her vs. Katie McLaughlin

Reply to  zswam
4 years ago

zswam – I can see where that sentence is confusing – but as written it actually reads that it is talking about McLaughlin. The bit about Thomas is an appositive. I’ll rewrite so that’s more clear.

4 years ago

I think I’d pick Krause to be in that A-final, personally. She went a speedy 1:53 at B1Gs, and I think she has some room for improvement.

I’m really hoping McLaughlin does well. After Worlds 2015, I was convinced she would be the next star for the U.S., but then it seems she struggled a little bit as she started at Cal and had some injuries and such. I was heartbroken when she didn’t make the Olympic Team. She’s slowly rising back up again, and while she’s definitely a much better swimmer in the big pool, I hope she can at least break 1:52 this year.

Eastin is certainly untouchable though. Her underwaters are crazy. Her last underwater is… Read more »

About Karl Ortegon

Karl Ortegon

Karl Ortegon studied sociology at Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT, graduating in May of 2018. He began swimming on a club team in first grade and swam four years for Wesleyan.

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