2018 W. NCAA Previews: After Fast Rise, Erika Brown Eyeing 100 Fly Gold

2018 WOMEN’S NCAA SWIMMING & DIVING CHAMPIONSHIPS

100 BUTTERFLY

  • NCAA record: Kelsi Worrell (Louisville), 2016, 49.43
  • American record: Kelsi Worrell (Louisville), 2016, 49.43
  • U.S. Open record: Kelsi Worrell (Louisville), 2016, 49.43
  • 2017 NCAA Champion: Farida Osman (Cal), 50.05

Erika Brown (Photo: John Golliher/Tennessee Athletics)

Tennessee’s Erika Brown wasn’t even an individual qualifier for NCAAs last season, but now she’s got her eyes on the 100 fly title. Coming into this season, Brown had a best in the 100 fly of 55.12 in the 100 fly. She only swam the event twice in the 2016-17 NCAA season. Now she’s the favorite to win the title after becoming the 2nd woman ever to break 50 seconds in the event. Brown’s 49.85 at the SEC Championships is the 3rd fastest performance in history. She’s now gunning for the American Record of 49.43 set by U.S. Olympian Kelsi Worrell of Louisville in 2016.

There are a handful of returning finalists set to challenge Brown for the NCAA title, including USC’s Louise Hansson, Stanford’s Janet Hu, Cal’s Noemie Thomas, and Ohio State’s Liz Li. At Pac-12s, Hansson successfully defended her conference title. She’s closing in on the 50-second barrier after putting up a 50.17 in Federal Way. Li will have the home pool advantage and has set herself up well with a Big Ten Record of 50.48 from last month. Thomas and Hu haven’t matched their bests this season, but Thomas has already been in the 50-high range. Hu opted out of this event at Pac-12s, so she hasn’t shown all her cards yet. She’s been as fast as 50.38 before. Though she’ll be doubling up with this event and the 100 back, she’ll be fresher for this race since it’s her first individual event.

Maddie Murphy (Photo: Tim Binning)

Cal has 3 potential finalists with Thomas, Katie McLaughlin, and Maddie Murphy. Like Hu, McLaughlin will be swimming a double on this day, but the 100 fly will be her first of her individual swims. She’s already put up a best time this season, clocking a 51.17 at Pac-12s. That was her first best time in the event since 2015. Murphy placed 10th in this race as a freshman last season. She’s in range of making the A final with a lifetime best 51.15, though she’s seeded with a 52.03.

Aside from the returning finalists, the only other swimmer in the 50-range this season is Auburn’s Haley Black, who threw down a lifetime best 50.68 at SECs. Several swimmers enter with times between 51.1 and 51.3, so it could be a close call as to who makes it into the final. Louisville’s Grace Oglesby (51.11) and Minnesota’s Danielle Nack (51.15) put up best times at their respective conferences to earn top-8 seeds. Indiana’s Christie Jensen (51.28), Auburn’s Aly Tetzloff (51.32), Texas A&M’s Béryl Gastaldello (50.39) have all dipped under 51.4 with best times this year. She’s seeded #17, but Georgia’s Chelsea Britt is a threat also with a lifetime best 50.93 from 2017 SECs.

The biggest darkhorse here is Missouri’s Ann Ochitwa, who’s in her first season with the Tigers after transferring from Arizona. Ochitwa has a lifetime best 51.02 from 2016 NCAAs. If she’s back at her best, she could nab an A final spot. So far this season, she has a best of 51.86 from SECs.

TOP 8 PICKS:

Place Swimmer Season Best Lifetime Best
1 Erika Brown (Tennessee) 49.85 49.85
2 Janet Hu (Stanford) 51.27 50.38
3 Louise Hansson (USC) 50.17 50.17
4 Noemie Thomas (Cal) 50.77 50.44
5 Liz Li (Ohio State) 50.48 50.48
6 Katie McLaughlin (Cal) 51.17 51.17
7 Haley Black (Auburn) 50.68 50.68
8 Grace Oglesby (Louisville) 51.11 51.11

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paloozas

speaking of katie mclaughlin’s double, the 200 free/100 fly double is back to back – do you think this may affect her swim in the 200 free, especially since you guys predicted she would be 4th in it? mclaughlin’s very talented, but doubles are hard.

Taa

100 fly scy on taper is a fun race to swim. If she qualifies 7th or 8th into the finals she may just cruise the race for the points.

Sean

Hansson will win

Swimmer

I’m really rooting for Brown because of her story but I think Hansson will take it

Caleb

you guys are mighy high on McLaughlin this year…

About Lauren Neidigh

Lauren Neidigh

Lauren Neidigh is a former NCAA swimmer at the University of Arizona and the University of Florida. She got her M.S. in Criminology from Florida State and seems exceptionally confused about which team she should cheer for during the college football season. Lauren is currently a coach at Loggerhead Aquatics …

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