2018 W. NCAA Picks: Baker to Challenge Pelton’s 200 Back Records

2018 WOMEN’S NCAA SWIMMING & DIVING CHAMPIONSHIPS

200 BACKSTROKE

Liz Pelton’s 1:47.84 is the oldest D1 swimming record in the books now that Ella Eastin has scrubbed off Elaine Breeden’s 200 fly mark from 2009. Right now, there’s only one woman who has been very close to that record, and that’s defending champion Kathleen Baker.

Baker, a junior at Cal, swam a 1:48.44 to win the title last year. This year, heading into the meet with the top seed, she’s already been faster– 1:48.27. The 2017 World Championships bronze medalist holds the fastest time in the country by over 1.2 seconds, and she’s the favorite to win it later this month. She looks more than capable of breaking 1:48– Missy Franklin did that, though, and still came up short in 2013. Can Baker take the record even lower, and keep it in the Cal family?

Beata Nelson (Courtesy: Wisconsin Athletics)

Four other women join Baker under 1:50 this season– Stanford senior Janet Hu (1:49.49), Wisconsin sophomore Beata Nelson (1:49.59), Kentucky sophomore Asia Seidt (1:49.65), and Texas A&M senior Lisa Bratton (1:49.83). Seidt and her teammate Ali Galyer finished in the A final last year with Baker. Galyer is seeded 7th this year (1:50.63), tied with Michigan’s Clara Smiddy, who has also been 1:50.63 this year.

Wisconsin’s Nelson has had a breakout season, shaving big time in her backstroke and IM races. She also became the fourth woman to break 50 seconds in the 100 back. Nelson, along with the UK sophomores Seidt and Galyer, are newer to the game, but Seidt and Galyer have already proven themseves after making the A final last year. Nelson has really upped her game this year, though, so expect another big meet out of her in Columbus.

Janet Hu, Stanford (Photo: Tim Binning)

Kennedy Goss of Indiana is another senior in the mix– she finished 7th last year at 1:50.94. She’s been 1:51.66 this season, which ranks her 10th, just behind another senior, UGA’s Kylie Stewart (1:51.32).

Stanford is a force in this event, with Hu and Ally Howe (1:50.05) ranked 2nd and 6th in the country this year, followed by Allie Szekely (1:51.72) and Erin Voss (1:51.94) also in the top 15. Meanwhile, Kentucky will also bring Bridgette Alexander along with Galyer and Seidt. Alexander, a senior who B-finaled last year, is seeded 14th with a 1:51.92.

TOP 8 PICKS:

PLACE SWIMMER TEAM SEED BEST TIME
1 Kathleen Baker Cal 1:48.27 1:48.27
2 Asia Seidt Kentucky 1:49.65 1:49.63
3 Janet Hu Stanford 1:49.49 1:49.36
4 Lisa Bratton Texas A&M 1:49.83 1:49.83
5 Beata Nelson Wisconsin 1:49.59 1:49.59
6 Ali Galyer Kentucky 1:50.63 1:50.53
7 Clara Smiddy Michigan 1:50.63 1:50.59
8 Kennedy Goss Indiana 1:51.66 1:50.37

Dark horse: UVA’s Paige Madden. There’s only one freshman in the entire top 16– can you guess who it is? Madden has experienced big drops in her freshman season. Coming into college with a 1:55.07, she’s shredded over three seconds off of that, and her 1:51.81 ranks her 13th in the country right now.

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Ervin

Karl, Missy broke the 148 barrier in 2015 not 2013.

Baker should be a lock in this event…hoping Janet Hu does well also

Elizabeth Pelton

Looking forward to watching this one! Go get em, Baker

CraigH

Unrelated, but do we know which Stanford swimmer that qualified for the meet is going to be left off the NCAA travel squad? I believe they qualified diver Kassidy Cook, which bumps them up to 19 total swimmers and divers.

No, that decision hasn’t been made/announced yet.

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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