2018 W. NCAA Previews: Eastin vs. Baker Rematch in 200 IM

2018 WOMEN’S NCAA SWIMMING & DIVING CHAMPIONSHIPS

200 INDIVIDUAL MEDLEY

Last season, Cal’s Kathleen Baker pulled off a mild upset in the 200 IM, dethroning Stanford’s American Record holder Ella Eastin and narrowly missing Eastin’s American Record. That was one of 3 event wins for Baker as she’d go on to take CSCAA Swimmer of the Year honors. After missing that record by just 4 hundredths, Baker is back to give it another go, but Eastin will be there for a rematch. Both swimmers looked good at the Pac-12 Championships last month. Eastin opted out of the 200 IM at conference, but had a strong showing with a lifetime best in the 400 IM, so we know she’s in good form. She also turned heads when she dropped 10 seconds in the 500 free and took down the American and NCAA Records in the 200 fly.

Though swimming fans speculated about whether or not Baker would be on top of her game after seeing some of her in-season times, Baker proved she’s ready to go with her swims at Pac-12s. She earned the Pac-12 title in the 200 IM, going slightly faster than she did at the conference meet last season. She’s also looking strong after putting up the 3rd-fastest 200 back in history.

The biggest competition to Eastin and Baker right now looks to be Texas A&M’s Sydney Pickrem. At the SEC Championships last month, Pickrem won the conference title in a lifetime best, breaking 1:53 for the first time. She and teammate Bethany Galat are both returners from last season’s NCAA final. Other returning finalists include USC’s Louise Hansson and Kentucky’s Asia Seidt, who both made the final as freshmen last season. Though Hansson is seeded just 16th, she dropped nearly 2 seconds in this event from Pac-12s to NCAAs last time around, and should land in the final if she does that again.

Ally Howe (photo: Tim Binning)

Seidt went a best time at SECs, finishing just a hundredth ahead of Tennessee’s Meghan Small. Also a sophomore, Small finished 9th at NCAAs last season and was the 2017 SEC Champion. Both are just hundredths away from dipping into the 1:52-range. Stanford’s Ally Howe and Michigan’s Siobhan Haughey finished behind Small in that consol final last season, but they’re back to challenge for a top-8 spot. Haughey is looking especially dangerous since she started out this season on fire. She knocked a full second off her best time at mid-season. Despite being out with an undisclosed injury for a short time, she was in good form at Big Tens and just a tenth shy off her best.

Speaking of swimmers who have been on fire, Wisconsin’s Beata Nelson is having a great season. Nelson took down the Big Ten Records in both backstrokes last month, scaring the American Record in the 100 back. Throughout the season, she’s dropped nearly 4 seconds from her best time in this event and is now the 7th seed heading into NCAAs.

TOP 8 PREDICTIONS:

Place Swimmer Season Best Lifetime Best
1 Ella Eastin (Stanford) 1:53.24 1:51.65
2 Kathleen Baker (Cal) 1:52.70 1:51.69
3 Sydney Pickrem (Texas A&M) 1:52.69 1:52.69
4 Asia Seidt (Kentucky) 1:53.04 1:53.04
5 Siobhan Haughey (Michigan) 1:53.48 1:53.48
6 Meghan Small (Tennessee) 1:53.05 1:53.05
7 Beata Nelson (Wisconsin) 1:53.85 1:53.85
8 Bethany Galat (Texas A&M) 1:55.16 1:54.16

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cbswims

Will these be on TV or at least streaming?

Hswimmer

Baker will win.

samuel huntington

I think I agree, Baker has looked good this season, but Eastin has looked really good.

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 working on her M.A. in …

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