2018 W. NCAA Picks: Tight Pack Trailing Ledecky in 500 Free



There’s no stopping Katie Ledecky, the Stanford sophomore who will be up against her own NCAA, American, and U.S. Open record of 4:24.06 that she set at the 2017 NCAA Championships. She’s been as fast as 4:26.09 this season, a solid 8.9 seconds ahead of the next-fastest swimmer in the NCAA. Nobody is catching her in this race– like usual, it’s going to be Ledecky vs. the clock.

Things get a lot more interesting when looking past Ledecky, where the next sixteen swimmers are between 4:35.0 and 4:37.8. In total, 31 swimmers are entered with times under 4:40, which is notable considering only 17 swimmers actually broke 4:40 at NCAAs last year. Not everyone can match their seeds at NCAAs, but it looks like it will take a faster time to score this year in this event.

Michigan’s Rose Bi sits 2nd in the nation (4:35.02), with her teammate G Ryan at the 10th seed (4:37.37). Both Wolverines placed in the A final last year, along with this year’s 5th-seed, Mallory Comerford. The Louisville star has been 4:35.78 this season, a touch faster than the 4:36.16 she went at last year’s meet to take fourth. Also coming into the meet with A cuts, besides Ledecky, Bi, and Comerford, are Georgia freshman Courtney Harnish (4:35.69) and Texas junior Joanna Evans (4:35.05). Harnish has improved in her first season in Athens, while Evans is also experiencing a nice progression, and is representing a Texas program that has a lot of momentum going into this meet.

Kaersten Meitz 2017 USA Swimming World Team Trials (photo: Mike Lewis)

The Stanford contingent is heavy, with five swimmers in the top 25 besides Ledecky. Lauren Pitzer (4:36.61), Leah Stevens (4:37.44), Katie Drabot (4:37.51), Brooke Forde (4:37.85), and Megan Byrnes (4:39.05) make up the most formidable distance group in the country, and any number of them may well find their way into scoring position.

Purdue’s Kaersten Meitz (4:36.59), Kentucky’s Geena Freriks (4:37.20), and Texas A&M’s Claire Rasmus (4:37.30) are also squeezed into the top 10 at 6th, 8th, and 9th, respectively. Arizona sophomore Kirsten Jacobsen (4:37.47) and Louisville junior Sophie Cattermole (4:37.48) are having standout seasons, and 15th seed Hannah Moore (4:37.51) of NC State will probably move up from her seed and challenge for an A final spot.


1 Katie Ledecky Stanford 4:26.09 4:24.06
2 Rose Bi Michigan 4:35.02 4:34.63
3 Joanna Evans Texas 4:35.05 4:35.05
4 Mallory Comerford Louisville 4:35.78 4:35.78
5 Courtney Harnish Georgia 4:35.69 4:35.69
6 Kaersten Meitz Purdue 4:36.59 4:36.59
7 Hannah Moore NC State 4:37.51 4:36.85
8 Geena Freriks Kentucky 4:37.20 4:37.20

Dark horse: Indiana’s Kennedy Goss. Seeded down at 20th with a 4:38.48, Goss was 4:36.13 at NCAAs last year and took 3rd– another swim matching that time will probably get her into the A final this year.

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Captain Ahab
2 years ago

1st Katie Ledecky
2nd Mallory Comerford
3rd Bi Rose
4th Joanna Evans

2 years ago

Gotta love how Stanford has all those swimmers you mentioned, Katie Ledecky of course, and then still has a swimmer who would be ranked 2nd except isn’t even swimming it…

2 years ago

Joanna Evans is from Texas not Stanford (listed in the top 8 predictions)

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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