2018 W. NCAAs Finals Preview: Top Four 100 Back Performers in History to Throw Down


The stage is set for night 3 of the 2018 NCAA D1 Women’s Championships in Columbus, Ohio, and there’s some great racing in store. Tonight, we’ll see swimmers compete individually in the 400 IM, 100 fly, 200 free, 100 breast, and 100 back. We’ll also see finals of the 200 medley relay. Read on for a preview of what to look out for in tonight’s session.

Click here to view the full Friday finals heat sheet.

400 IM – As expected, no one came near Standford’s dynamic duo of Ella Eastin and Katie Ledecky this morning. The pair has traded American records three times in the last year, with Ledecky current holding the mark at 3:56.53. This morning, Eastin was 4:01.49 while Ledecky cruised to a 4:01.72 — no one else was under 4:03. Eastin is coming off her electric 200 IM American record swim yesterday, while Ledecky gained two seconds in her 500; both are undoubtedly hungry for more.

100 fly – This morning, USC’s Louise Hansson became the third woman ever under :50 (49.90), while no one else was under 50.76. However, the 3-seed in finals is Tennessee’s Erika Brown who is fresh off of going 49.85 at the 2018 SEC Championships — the #2 performance of all-time behind Kelsi Worrell’s 49.43 American/NCAA/U.S. Open record. Cal’s Noemie Thomas is the 2-seed heading into finals, and is also a strong candidate to go sub-:50. She went 50.76 in prelims, and her PR is 50.44.

200 free – After tying for first with Katie Ledecky last year, Louisville’s Mallory Comerford is in a good position to defend her title in Ledecky’s absence tonight. She posted a very strong 1:41.61 this morning, and went 1:39.14 on her 800 free relay Wednesday night. Breaking 1:40 seems doable, but she’ll have to go under Missy Franklin‘s 1:39.10 if she wants an American record. In second this morning was Michigan’s Siobhan Haughey in 1:43.04, and Stanford’s Simone Manuel is seeded third in 1:43.08. While Manuel as out with an injury at the beginning of the year, she showed strong at Pac-12s, going 1:40.78, while Haughey was 1:41.66 at Big Tens.

100 breast – Lilly King has been absolutely bringing it in her sprint breaststroke swims so far this week. She was 56.02 in her 400 medley relay split last night, and cruised the first 50 of her individual race this morning for a casual 57.35 (28.03/29.32) this morning. She was also 26.08 on her medley relay split this morning. If we subract her reaction times from her individual PR of 56.30 and her relay PR, the times come out to 55.71 and 55.73, so there’s a decent chance King breaks or comes close to a record tonight. The race for second should also be good: Eastern Michigan’s Delaney Duncan was 58.36 this morning and Minnesota’s Lindsey Kozelsky was 58.41 after going 57.49 on her medley relay.

100 back – This race will feature the top four performers in history: Ally Howe, Beata Nelson, Kathleen Baker, and Janet Hu. Wisconsin’s Nelson (a sophomore, the youngest of the four) led off the 400 medley relay last night in 49.83, the fastest split in the field by half a second. She put down a 50.61 in prelims to take the top spot heading into finals tonight, but right behind her was Stanford’s American record holder Howe in 50.64. NC State’s Elise Haan nabbed 3rd in prelims by matching her best time (50.75) from the 2018 ACC Championships. Baker took 4th with a 50.77, but went 50.66 last night in her relay; she was also 50.13 at Pac-12s. Hu was 5th in 50.82, but went 49.93 at Pac-12s last month.

200 medley relay – Though Indiana was able to nab the top spot this morning in 1:35.12, they did it against Cal and Stanford teams that will substitute their top swimmers in tonight. Cal took second this morning with the team of Kathleen Baker, Abbey Weitzeil, Noemie Thomas, and Amy Bilquist, but will likely sub Ali Harrison in on breast tonight and move Wetizeil to free. Stanford sent out Ally Howe, Grace Zhao, Janet Hu, and Lauren Pitzer, but will likely sub Kim Williams for Zhao and Simone Manuel for Pitzer. While Indiana has the clear breaststroke advantage in Lilly King‘s sub-26 potential, they don’t have a freestyler who will definitely go under 22. Weitzeil and Manuel, conversely, have been 21.01 and 20.89 in relays already this meet.

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6 years ago

Rooting for Comerford in that 200 while i know Simone is capable of anything when she wants it badly ….so great battle to expect

6 years ago

As a Raleigh native, I’d love to see Elise Haan pull off an upset! Good luck tonight ladies!

The Grand inquisitor
6 years ago

Now that 3m board prelims are complete, layer on this: Texas 1/1, Stanford 1/0, and Indiana 1/0.

bobo gigi
6 years ago

Great night of battles in perspective!

400 IM. Ledecky vs Eastin
200 free. Comerford vs Manuel
100 fly. Brown vs Hansson
100 breast. King vs the clock

Reply to  bobo gigi
6 years ago

Also in the 100 breast there is a great battle between Lindsey Kozelsky and Miranda Tucker for second.

Reply to  bobo gigi
6 years ago

400 IM: Ledecky vs. Eastin vs. the clock as well

bobo gigi
6 years ago

And among these 4 girls, only one is a great long course swimmer. The 3 others have monster underwaters. Which can help in SCY.

6 years ago

i could see the scenario identified above in which ali harrison takes over the breaststroke spot in order to move weitzel to anchor Cal’s 2 medley relay tonight, but unless I’m missing something I feel that this morning’s lineup should stay in place

just in my humble swim fan opinion, unless teri & co believe harrison, who is a great breaststroker in her own right, can split something like 26.2 / 26.3 (she was 26.7 at Pac 12s), it should be better to keep weitzel on breaststroke (26.5 at Pac 12s), since amy bilquist’s sprint freestyle is on fire (both bilquist and weitzel were 21.0 in the 2 free relay yesterday)

thoughts? would love to see cal take this one… Read more »

Reply to  monkeyseemonkeydoodoo
6 years ago

it should be a great race but IMHO Indiana has the edge over the Pac-12.

Hint of Lime
6 years ago

Baker isn’t a senior, either; the article states that Beata Nelson is the only non-senior of the 4 sub-50 backstrokers, but Baker is a junior while Nelson is a sophomore.

About Torrey Hart

Torrey Hart

Torrey is from Oakland, CA, and majored in media studies and American studies at Claremont McKenna College, where she swam distance freestyle for the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps team. Outside of SwimSwam, she has bylines at Sports Illustrated, Yahoo Sports, SB Nation, and The Student Life newspaper.

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