2018 W. NCAA Picks: Cal Trying to Hold Off IU, Stanford in 200 Medley



  • NCAA Record: 1:34.10, Cal (Baker, Weitzeil, Thomas, Osman), 2017
  • American Record: 1:34.15 (Howe, Haase, Hu, Neal), 2016
  • U.S. Open Record: 1:34.10, Cal (Baker, Weitzeil, Thomas, Osman), 2017
  • 2017 NCAA Champion: Cal (Baker, Weitzeil, Thomas, Osman)

The Cal women took the 2017 NCAA title in the 200 medley relay by 2/3rds of a second, clinching the NCAA and U.S. Open records over Stanford and USC. This time around, the NCAA and American records are in certain danger, and the margin should be even closer among Cal, Stanford, and new threat Indiana, who finished fourth in 2017.

Cal comes into this race red-hot, after coming within .03 of their NCAA record last month at Pac-12s. At Pac-12s, Cal swam more-or-less the same relay line-up that they had at 2017 NCAAs, with Kathleen Baker on backstroke handing off to Abbey Weitzeil on breast, to Noemie Thomas on fly with Amy Bilquist stepping in for the now-graduated Farida Osman as anchor. Baker’s 23.59 lead-0ff was just .02 shy of her fastest 50 back ever (a 23.57 from last season’s Pac-12s) and .03 faster than she was on the record-breaking relay at 2017 NCAAs.

However, another notable swim for Cal in that Pac-12 race was on the B relay, where freshman Ali Harrison threw down a 26.75 breaststroke split (Weitzeil was 26.58 at 2018 Pac-12s and 26.67 at 2017 NCAAs.) 50 free American record-holder Weitzeil was 21.00 to anchor the 200 free relay at Pac-12s, so switching Harrison to breast and Weitzeil to free could add up to a  a big drop for the team. Those four times (with Thomas’s 22.70 from 2017 NCAAs that she nearly matched at 2018 Pac-12s) could yield an NCAA-record 1:34.02.

Despite Cal missing the NCAA record by just hundredths last month, Indiana’s 200 medley relay has had the most exciting progress this season. At the season’s midpoint, the Hoosiers posted a 1:34.58 to set a new Big Ten record and lead the NCAA up until conference championships season. Then, at Big Tens, the team of Ali Rockett, Lilly King, Christine Jensen, and Grace Haskett came together for the third-fastest swim in history, missing the American record by just .01 with 1:34.16. Jensen and Rockett’s backstroke and fly 50 splits sit right with Baker, Thomas, Howe, and Hu’s. But the difference in splits for Indiana (as you would probably guess) is King’s ability to split a 25.84 50 breaststroke, as compared to Harrison/Weitzeil’s 27-mids and Williams’s 26-high.

The real test for Indiana will be the freestyle leg, where freshman Haskett will be competing against the likes of Manuel and Weitzeil. Haskett, who was 22.02 to anchor the relay at Big Tens, will have to swim her best split and drop well under 22 to hold off Stanford and compete with Cal. She ought to be up to the challenge, though; Haskett was 22.10 from a flat start to lead off the 200 free relay at the Purdue Invitational

Even though Stanford comes into this race seeded third nearly three-quarters of a second back from Cal and Indiana, they will be in the race for the top podium spots. This year, the Cardinal are returning all four of their swimmers from 2017 NCAAs: Ally Howe, Kim Williams, Janet Hu, and Simone ManuelAfter Pac-12s, the team is already faster than their time at 2017 NCAAs (1:34.79 to last year’s 1:34.90). There’s been a bit of speculation that Stanford rested even less than usual for Pac-12s this year after a few swimmers peaked a little too early last season, but we won’t know for sure until the meet kicks off. However, if that’s true, Stanford will be up for the fight. There’s also a big question of where Stanford will use their biggest weapons, with a team title seeming a likely possibility. If they move Manuel off this relay and onto, say, the 800 free relay with hopes of putting that record to an untouchable place, then that would drastically alter the outcome here.

The leg with the most likely drop for Stanford could be 100 back American record holder Howe’s lead-off. Though her lead-off split at 2017 NCAAs was a 24.08 that was only the sixth-fastest in the field, she was 23.62 in Stanford’s 2016 American record-setting performance.

Minnesota’s team of Tevyn Waddell, Lindsey Kozelsky, Danielle Nack, and Zoe Avestruz has been on fire this season, coming off an 11th-place finish at NCAAs last year. Despite the same four swimmers missing the A-final in 2018, the team put up a school-record 1:35.06 performance at Big Tens, and they come into this NCAA Nationals as the fourth seed, just a quarter of a second behind Stanford.

The University of Tennessee lost Kira Toussaint and Colleen Callahan off this relay this year, but the new team of Micah Bohon, Tjasas Pintar,  Madeline Banic, and Erica Brown have rocketed the Vols up from consolation final to top-five territory. Brown has seen a meteoric rise this year, going from missing individual qualification in 2017 to being our favorite to win the 100 fly in 2018, after becoming the second woman in history to break 50 seconds. At SECs this year, the team put up 1:35.21, with Bohon on back, Pintar swimming breast, Banic on fly, and Brown anchoring. The strength for the Vols is in the back half; Banic split 22.84 and Brown was 20.81 at SECs.

USC was 1:35.36 for third at Pac-12s this year, with Hannah Weiss swimming backstroke (27.47), Riley Scott (27.03) on breast, Louise Hansson (22.38) on fly, and Marta Ciesla (21.48) anchoring.

Texas A&M is right with USC on the psych sheet, but they have some options for their lineup that should result in a move up the ranks, though they are unlikely to defend their NCAA silver. At SECs, the Aggies swam Lisa Bratton (24.14), Jorie Caneta (25.41), Jing Quah (23.15), and Raena Eldridge (21.84) for 1:35.54, but they also have Beryl Gasteldello (back: 23.85, 2017 NCAAs) and Kristin Malone (free: 22.17, 2017 NCAAs) on their roster. Gasteldello missed SECs for undisclosed health issues, but swam College Station Sectionals instead.

NC State has had a rough run so far this year, with Ky-lee Perry out for an dislocated elbow and Courtney Caldwell absent all season but still appearing on the roster. However, the team of Elise Haan, Anna Shumate, Krista Duffield, and Lexie Lupton was still able to put up a 1:36.07 to win the ACC Championship this year and slide into the eighth seed for NCAAs. Wisconsin and Auburn also could be in the fight for the A final.


1 Cal 1:34.13 1st (1:34.10)
2 Indiana 1:34.16 4th (1:35.26) 
3 Stanford 1:34.79 3rd (1:34.90)
4 Minnesota 1:35.06 11th (1:36.12)
5 Texas A&M 1:35.54  2nd (1:34.85)
6 USC 1:35.36  5th (1:35.52)
 7 Tennessee  1:35.21  14th (1:36.75)
8 NC State 1:36.07  7th (1:35.70)

In This Story

Leave a Reply

5 Comments on "2018 W. NCAA Picks: Cal Trying to Hold Off IU, Stanford in 200 Medley"

newest oldest most voted

TN will be faster… Really underestimating them swimswam…

Cal for the win in this!!!! They have a really good chance to win 4/5 relays… if not 5/5 if they step up.

the more of these prediciton articles I read and thinka bout – the more I think the meet is going to be bonkers because so many teams seemingly have not rested.

If Cal could slide Weitzeil to free and put the frosh on the breast leg, that could be the deciding factor. 23.4-26.7-22.6-21.0 seems doable for that foursome with the switch. Also would allow Bilquist to be on the 4 other relays if needed.

About Hannah Hecht

Hannah Hecht

Hannah Hecht grew up in Kansas and spent most of her childhood trying to convince coaches to let her swim backstroke in freestyle sets. She took her passion to Morningside College in Sioux City, Iowa and swam at NAIA Nationals all four years. After graduating in 2015, she moved to …

Read More »