2018 W. NCAA Previews: Comerford to Challenge 1:40-Barrier in 200 Free

2018 WOMEN’S NCAA SWIMMING & DIVING CHAMPIONSHIPS

200 FREESTYLE

  • NCAA record: Missy Franklin (Cal), 2015, 1:39.10
  • American record: Missy Franklin (Cal), 2015, 1:39.10
  • U.S. Open record: Missy Franklin (Cal), 2015, 1:39.10
  • 2017 NCAA Champion: Katie Ledecky (Stanford)/Mallory Comerford (Louisville), 1:40.36

Last season, Louisville’s Mallory Comerford brought the thunder in the 200 free. Comerford turned heads in the swimming world as she ran down Olympic champion Katie Ledecky to tie for the NCAA title. We won’t get to see a rematch between them this season, as Ledecky has opted for the 400 IM instead, but Comerford will be back. She’s been putting up fast times since the beginning of the season, and could become the second woman to ever break 1:40. Though Ledecky will be absent this time around, fellow Stanford swimmer Simone Manuel will look to give Comerford a run for her money. Manuel has been battling injury all season long, but that didn’t seem to impact her times at Pac-12s one bit – enough so that she enters as the top seed. Manuel has a reputation as a racer, doing what she needs to do, in the 100 free – but in this 200 last year, she was just 3rd.

The whole dynamic of this race changes, though, without Ledecky lurking. While it’s not actually what happened last year, the expectation is that Ledecky will always close on her competitors in the 200 free – though last year, Comferford actually chased her down on the back-half of the race. If this takes the pressure off to dig hard on the first 50 (where Manuel last year was half-a-second clear), that works to Manuel’s advantage.

Aside from Comerford and Manuel, Michigan’s Siobhan Haughey is the only swimmer in this field to have broken 1:42. Haughey has already been within tenths of her best time this season, and returns after placing 4th in 2017. Last season, she made a big drop from Big Tens to NCAAs, swimming over a second faster in March. She’ll be dangerous if she can make the same drop this time around.

Michigan should be in for a big points haul here if their swimmers can replicate their Big Ten performances. They have Haughey, last season’s 6th place finisher Gabby Deloof, and sister Caitie Deloof all seeded in the top 8. Cal and Stanford each have a strong shot at getting 2 in the final. Manuel and Katie Drabot (who was 14th last season) will be racing for the Cardinal, while the Bears have Katie McLaughlin and standout freshman Robin Neumann. Though this is only her first season in yards, Neumann is a top-8 seed. McLaughlin, who won the B final last season, is seeded #22 coming into the meet, but it’s worth noting she didn’t swim this event at Pac-12s.

Texas A&M’s Claire Rasmus, who won the SEC title in this race, returns after placing 8th last season and should challenge for another finals spot. She’s one of a few swimmers bunched into the 1:43-mid to 1:43-high range this season. Virginia has 2 women looking to crack the top 8 with Megan Moroney (1:43.60) and Jenn Marrkand (1:43.85). Georgia’s Meaghan Raab (1:43.85), who placed 11th last season, is also in the running.

TOP 8 PICKS:

Place Swimmer Season Best Lifetime Best
1 Mallory Comerford (Louisville) 1:41.17 1:40.36
2 Simone Manuel (Stanford) 1:40.78 1:40.37
3 Siobhan Haughey (Michigan) 1:41.66 1:41.21
4 Katie McLaughlin (Cal) 1:44.42 1:43.01
5 Gabby Deloof (Michigan) 1:42.91 1:42.91
6 Katie Drabot (Stanford) 1:43.92 1:43.78
7 Robin Neumann (Cal) 1:43.38 1:43.38
8 Claire Rasmus (Texas A&M) 1:43.62 1:43.62

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dave92029
4 years ago

17yo HS student Taylor Ruck sent Comerford running from Atlanta where Comerford could not finish in the top 3 in her events. Simone will also give Comerford a spanking and send her home without a victory. LOL

IM FAN
4 years ago

Not reallg related too who wins NCAAs this year, but I feel like Comerfords distance venture this year could pay off in the long course pool.

NCAA prediction
1. Comercord 1:40.01
2. Manuel 1:40.28
3. Haugley 1:40.75

Swimmerj
4 years ago

Can we throw it back to last year when Rowdy hyped up the Manuel-Ledecky duel and then stated that NO ONE expected Comerford to do anything after she ties KL and beats Manuel? Just re-hashing my anger and subtly asking if we can have someone announce who expands his focus to include non-Olympic swimmers.

Becky D
4 years ago

What I found most stunning in this article is that Missy’s 1:39 was only 3 years ago. Seems like ages.

Yozhik
Reply to  Becky D
4 years ago

You are not the only one who can’t find the explanation of this cliff like decline. That just one year after this enormous success with improving of her personal bests in one meet in March 2015 ( 46.6 – 100free, 1:39.1 -200 free, 1:52 – 200IM) she stopped competing at all for the reason of being well below of world class standards. Just one year and four months and no more races. That’s why it seems like an ancient history to you because of these three years she doesn’t compete for almost two already.

big man
4 years ago

neither will win on this one im just calling it now
-big man

Andy
4 years ago

I hadn’t really been following NCAA Women this season. Does anyone know why Ledecky dropped the 200?

Admin
Reply to  Andy
4 years ago

Greg Meehan’s explanation was, basically, points. They saw having her swim the 400 IM as the better overall points opportunity for the team.

Ervin
Reply to  Braden Keith
4 years ago

That honestly a lame excuse…unless all their relays DQ theyre gonna win anyway

Hannah
Reply to  Ervin
4 years ago

I agree, besides, the 200 free is more points because Eastin was going to win anyway and there are more Stanford swimmers for Ledecky to knock down a point in the 400 IM than there are in the 200 free.

Yabo
Reply to  Braden Keith
4 years ago

I feel like it’s the same amount of points either way because of Eastin in the 400IM?

ArtVanDeLegh10
Reply to  Braden Keith
4 years ago

Stanford is a lot stronger in the 400 IM than the 200 Free, so his explanation doesn’t really make sense.

Andysup
Reply to  ArtVanDeLegh10
4 years ago

It means they are more confident in ledecky beating pickrem in the 4im than comerford in the 2 free. Stanford swimmers trading positions makes no difference to Stanford points. Pushing down one position will happen to the top swimmers too but matter more if someone else wins the event. Meaning if comerford wins 2free and ledecky enters that race and gets second. She will push Manuel to 3rd or get 3rd (doesn’t matter from team perspective). Vs if she enters the 4im. And beats Easton. Then Easton gets second and she gets first. All Stanford swimmers bellow them are bumped down a spot but so does every other teams swimmers.

Yozhik
Reply to  Braden Keith
4 years ago

Knowing how coach Meehan is nice to seniors at their last meet in college I think it was done for Simone Manuel. And I also think that Katie Ledecky hasn’t objected much having more interesting targets like 400IM and 15 min barrier. Moreover if it would be contest for the best swimmer meet/year then american/NCAA records will be taken under account. There are very remote chances to break record at 200. All other her events are a very good candidates for that. I think that it was mutual decision of coach and swimmer that benefited interest of both sides.

gii
Reply to  Yozhik
4 years ago

If she wanted racing, she should have go for the 200 free.
But as you said, if she’s gunning swimmer of the meet/year(and maybe Tokyo), yah, do the 400 IM.
FYI, I didn’t realise Ledecky care so much of this kind of “swimmer of the meet” title, I thought she was a racer.

Yozhik
Reply to  gii
4 years ago

I don’t know neither. But I also don’t see how it may hurt. What is she swimming in college for but not at LCM? For the scholarship? Or for different type of satisfaction and recognition.

Yozhik
Reply to  gii
4 years ago

Really, GII. What do you think she is doing in SCY. If she is for the kill in racing only then why does she need 500, 1000, 1650? There is no racing in these events. Why not to swim 50 of any strokes, or breaststroke events or something similar. There will be plenty of racing. I guess that besides adrenalin excitation that comes with the racing she like any other human is open for other signs of appreciation. How the title of best college swimmer of the year is worse than best athlete of the year? Why not to target this achievement as well. Missy Franklin did it and it was fine with you. Then why in Ledecky’s case it… Read more »

gii
Reply to  Yozhik
4 years ago

When Ledecky broke her big meet individual winning streak, she said she will come back stronger and the loss will be really good for that event to her in the next couple years. Backing down from a race like this dosen’t get close to both.
Why she is doing the 1650…Yozhik, are you sure you don’t know why? The 15 min barrier of course! Not that I care about it so much though.
Why not to swim 50 of any strokes, or breaststroke – No offence to Ledecky, but she’s not Dressel. She will get her butt kicked in those events.
Long ago, Ledecky was being consider as the closest candidate to break Schmitt’s AR and even… Read more »

Yozhik
Reply to  gii
4 years ago

I got confused by your response because I’m not sure when you are sarcastic or joking. But thank you for answering my question.
Katie Ledecky is very reserved person. She doesn’t share her goals and intentions even with her relatives. She was brought up in the environment where people are very familiar with and well trained in PR. Do you know any other schoolgirl who was invited to reception in the foreign embassy to meet with royalties or a schoolgirl who represented her city at Olympic bid. She knows what and when to say. The independent life in college made her mature and capable of making her own decisions. Nobody knows for sure what she really values in her… Read more »

E+Gamble
Reply to  Yozhik
4 years ago

Yup. It’s about Simone Manuel guys. Meehan is setting her up to possibly win all three of her individual events. It’s still gonna be tough but she won’t have Katie Ledecky….a teammate in the 200 free mix. If you’re a senior….Meehan is gonna set you up to shine in your last NCAA SCY meet.

Jackman
Reply to  Andy
4 years ago

I mean if you look at her times in the two events objectively, she’s better at the 400 IM (the best ever).

IRO
Reply to  Andy
4 years ago

If she’s looking to swim four years of college, could be her way of maintaining (hopefully) a perfect 12 for 12 in individual wins. Easier to win the 400 IM now than the 200 free, though Eastin may prove differently.

Sean Sullivan
4 years ago

The last 2 times Simone has swum this at NCAAs she’s been a little slower than she was at PAC12s. She drops time in her 50 and 100, but that hasn’t translated to the longer race. I’m sure they focus more on the 50 & 100 during her taper, but it will be interesting to see if they can make that adjustment and give Comerford a go.

Yozhik
Reply to  Sean Sullivan
4 years ago

For sure Simone Manuel won’t have an easy meet. The challenge is coming from each conner. Plus the relay duty will require the best of her. I think that finishing her college career as the best sprinter is the most important thing for her legacy and it would be no tragedy if she misses the gold in 200 this season. On the other hand the last year medal ceremony looked not really pleasant to Simone. There was a long tale of those who achieved nothing in this race headed by Manuel, then big empty step serving as separator and then two steps above two smiling winners. I don’t think Simone’s forgotten this.
Should she has this race only I… Read more »

ALEXANDER POP-OFF
4 years ago

This gonna be good. The Fearless One vs The Midas Touchpad.

About Lauren Neidigh

Lauren Neidigh

Lauren Neidigh is a former NCAA swimmer at the University of Arizona (2013-2015) and the University of Florida (2011-2013). While her college swimming career left a bit to be desired, her Snapchat chin selfies and hot takes on Twitter do not disappoint. She's also a high school graduate of The …

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