2018 Women’s NCAA Championships: Day 2 Finals Live Recap


We’re on to day 2 finals of the 2018 Women’s NCAA Championships in Columbus, Ohio. Tonight, we’ll see swimmers battle for individual titles in the 500 free, 200 IM, and 50 free. The 200 free relay and 400 medley relay will bookend the session, while the women’s 1-meter diving finals will take place between the 50 free and 400 medley relay.

Stanford’s Katie Ledecky is chasing her own NCAA and American Record tonight in the 500 free. After her strong showing in the 800 free relay last night, anchoring in 1:39.87, swimming fans could see the first sub-4:24 tonight. Teammate Ella Eastin is in a similar boat, as she’s chasing her own records in the 200 IM, but she’ll be up against Cal’s reigning NCAA champ Kathleen Baker and Texas A&M’s SEC champ Sydney Pickrem. Another NCAA champ from Stanford, Simone Manuel, looks to defend her title in the 50 free. Manuel, the NCAA Record holder, will be up against American Record holder Abbey Weitzeil of Cal. Tennessee’s Erika Brown could surprise there as well, as she’s been on fire this season, as could local star Liz Li of Ohio State.


  • NCAA Record: Cal, 2017, 1:25.59
  • American Record: Stanford, 2018, 1:25.68
  • Championship Record: Cal, 2017, 1:25.59
  • 2017 Champion: Cal, 1:25.59
  1. GOLD: Stanford, 1:25.43
  2. SILVER: Cal, 1:25.50
  3. BRONZE: Tennessee, 1:27.10

It was a close battle between Cal and Stanford that came down to the last stroke, but the Stanford squad of Janet Hu (leadoff- 21.65), Simone Manuel (20.89), Lauren Pitzer (21.62), and Ally Howe (21.27) combined to take down the NCAA and American Records. That split by Manuel was the 6th fastest in history. She currently holds the fastest ever with a 20.78 from 2017 Pac-12s. Cal was also under the former records to take a narrow 2nd with Maddie Murphy (leadoff- 21.94), Amy Bilquist (21.08), Katie McLaughlin (21.47), and Abbey Weitzeil (21.01).

On the leadoff split, Tennessee’s Erika Brown and Ohio State’s Liz Li tied in 21.61 to give their teams an early edge. The Vols landed 3rd, while Ohio State wound up 7th. Virginia was 4th with a 21.27 anchor split from Caitlin Cooper. Louisville rounded out the top 5 with a 21.04 on the 2nd leg from Mallory Comerford.


  1. GOLD: Katie Ledecky (Stanford), 4:26.57
  2. SILVER: Katie Drabot (Stanford), 4:34.86
  3. BRONZE: Kirsten Jacobsen (Arizona), 4:35.04

Stanford’s Katie Ledecky swam to the 5th fastest time in history, dominating the field in 4:26.57. Leecky gave a huge nod and a fist pump to teammate Katie Drabot, who broke 4:35 for the first time to secure the Cardinal 1-2. Arizona’s Kirsten Jacobsen shaved another second off her time to round out the top 3. After a massive drop in prelims, Virginia’s Jenn Marrkand put up another lifetime best to take 4th in 4:35.21. Purdue’s Kaersten Meitz (4:36.83) was off her time from prelims, but still landed a spot in the top 5.

All-Time Top 10 Performances: Women’s 500 Free

Place Swimmer Time
1 Katie Ledecky 4:24.06
2 Katie Ledecky 4:25.15
3 Katie Ledecky 4:26.09
4 Katie Ledecky 4:26.46
5 Katie Ledecky 4:26.57
6 Katie Ledecky 4:26.58
7 Katie Ledecky 4:27.21
8 Katie Ledecky 4:27.54
9 Katie Ledecky 4:27.84
10 Katie Ledecky 4:27.88

Penn State’s Ally McHugh dropped almost 2 more seconds off her best time, winning the B heat in 4:36.17. Georgia’s Courtney Harnish was also sub-4:37. In her 3rd 500 free of the day, she put up her fastest time of the day in 4:36.91.


  1. GOLD: Ella Eastin (Stanford) 1:50.67
  2. SILVER: Kathleen Baker (Cal), 1:51.25
  3. BRONZE: Sydney Pickrem (Texas A&M), 1:52.35

Stanford’s Ella Eastin completetly blew away the American and NCAA Record to keep the Cardinal winning streak alive in 1:50.67. That took a second off the former record. Stanford has yet to lose a race at this meet.

Cal’s Kathleen Baker rolled to the early lead in 51.56 at the halfway mark, while Eastin trailed by half a second. Baker continued to extend her lead through breaststroke, but Eastin made up a 7-tenths deficit and blew by her on the free leg. Eastin outsplit Baker 26.35 to 27.60 on the free leg. Baker was also under the former American and NCAA Record with a lifetime best for 2nd place.

Texas A&M’s Sydney Pickrem shaved a few tenths from her best to take 3rd. Teammate Bethany Galat dropped a second to take 4th in 1:53.17, holding off Tennessee’s Meghan Small (1:53.18) by a hundredth. Wisconsin’s Beata Nelson dropped a few tenths for 5th in 1:53.54.

Michigan’s Siobhan Haughey was just hundredths shy of her lifetime best, swimming much faster than she did in prelims to win the B final in 1:53.53. That was the 5th fastest time of the night.


  1. GOLD: Simone Manuel (Stanford), 21.18
  2. SILVER: Erika Brown (Tennessee), 21.51
  3. BRONZE: Liz Li (Ohio State), 21.59

The NCAA Record barely survived Simone Manuel‘s finals swim tonight. Manuel was just .01 off her best, putting up the 3rd fastest time in history with a 21.18. She finished well ahead of the field, with Tennessee’s Erika Brown out-touching Ohio State’s Liz Li for 2nd.

All-Time Top 10 Performances: Women’s 50 Free

Place Swimmer Time
1 Abbey Weitzeil 21.12
2 Simone Manuel 21.17
3 Simone Manuel 21.18
4 Simone Manuel 21.20
5 Olivia Smoliga 21.21
6 Lara Jackson 21.27
7 Abbey Weitzeil 21.28 (T-6)
8 Liz Li 21.28 (T-6)
9 Liz Li 21.29 (T-8)
10 Simone Manuel 21.29 (T-8)

Cal’s Abbey Weitzeil, the American Record holder, was 4th in 21.67, followed by Texas A&M’s Béryl Gastaldello (21.74). Auburn’s Aly Tetzloff was the only swimmer in the field to clock a best time, touching in 21.77 to tie Virginia’s Caitlin Cooper for 6th.


  • NCAA Record: Kassidy Krug (Stanford), 2007, 361.55
  • Championship Record: Kassidy Krug (Stanford), 2007, 361.55
  • 2017 Champion: Alison Gibson (Texas), 332.60
  1. GOLD: Sarah Bacon (Minnesota)- 343.50
  2. SILVER: Julia Vincent (South Carolina)- 333.50
  3. BRONZE: Sharae Zheng (Nevada)- 325.25

Minnesota’s Sarah Bacon made her way to the top of the podium tonight, with South Carolina’s Julia Vincent and Nevada’s Sharae Zheng rounding out the top 3. Texas’ Alison Gibson (320.65) took 4th and Tennessee’s Rachel Rubadue (302.30) took 7th to help their teams in the battle for a top 5 spot.


  • NCAA Record: Stanford, 2018, 3:25.15
  • American Record: Stanford, 2018, 3:25.15
  • Championship Record: Stanford, 2016, 3:26.14
  • 2017 Champion: Stanford, 3:26.35
  1. GOLD: Stanford, 3:25.09
  2. SILVER: Indiana, 3:26.09
  3. BRONZE: Cal, 3:26.86

Stanford is still perfect at this meet, picking up their 5th title here. Ally Howe took the early lead in 50.34 ahead of Cal’s Kathleen Baker (50.66). They trailed Indiana after Lilly King‘s 56.02 breast split, but Kim Williams kept the Cardinal in the hunt with a 58.59 split. Janet Hu came through with a 50.36 fly split, but the Cardinal still trailed. Simone Manuel made up the gap, closing in 45.80 to lead them to a convincing victory and a new American and NCAA Record.

Louisville’s Mallory Comerford had the fastest free split fo the night in 45.74 to help her team to 4th. Wisconsin’s Beata Nelson led off in 49.83 in the B heat, marking the 4th fastest 100 back of all time. That was just hundredths shy of her lifetime best 49.78 from Big Tens and the fastest 100 back of the night. USC’s Louise Hansson came up with the 2nd fastest 100 fly split ever, leading with a 49.24 fly split from the B heat.


  1. Stanford                          211   2. California                        147
  3. Texas                             109   4. Tennessee                       108.5
  5. Michigan                          101   6. Louisville                         99
  7. Texas A&M                          89   8. Virginia                           86
  9. Minnesota                          70  10. Indiana                            46
 11. Georgia                            45  11. Arizona                            45
 13. Ohio St                            40  14. Auburn                           34.5
 15. Wisconsin                          33  16. Kentucky                           32
 17. Southern Cal                       30  18. UNC                                25
 19. South Carolina                     23  20. Purdue                             18
 20. NC State                           18  22. University of Nevada               16
 23. Missouri                           15  24. Arizona St                         14
 25. Northwestern                       11  25. Denver                             11
 27. Arkansas                            9  27. Penn St                             9
 29. UCLA                                6  29. Rutgers                             6
 31. Louisiana State University          5  32. Alabama                             4
 32. Florida                             4  32. Virginia Tech                       4
 35. University of Miami                 2

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My Predictions:

200 Freestyle Relay:
1) Stanford 1:25.40 NCAA/AR
2) California 1:25.70
3) Tennessee 1:26.20

500 Freestyle:
1) Ledecky 4:23.40 NCAA/AR
2) Katie Drabot 4:34.70
3) Kaersten Meitz 4:35.45

200 Individual Medley:
1) Eastin 1:51.35 NCAA/AR
2) Baker 1:51.97
3) Pickrem 1:52.67

50 Freestyle:
1) Manuel 21.21
2) Brown 21.35
3) Weitzel 21.39

400 Medley Relay:
1) Stanford 3:24.03 NCAA/AR
2) California 3:25.78
3) Tennessee 3:27.08

Really rooting for Baker in this 200 IM!

wild Bill

B final – 4x 50
Fast swimming!

swim enthusiast

the audio on the live stream sounds terrible

Sean Sullivan

I’d rather have Sam Kendricks sounding scratchy sure to poor audio levels than Rowdy and whatever random person from ESPN they pull in for the next 2 days.


I just talked to my son about that moments ago and fully agree. They are putting up the finish results superimposed on the screen quickly whereas Rowdy would talk and talk and us listeners would have no clue who was 3rd through 8th until much later.

tea rex

Rowdy Gaines is the Plan 9 From Outer Space of announcers. Not for everyone, but I appreciate it.


Stop complaining. Sam is of course great and Rowdy is at the very least entertaining. I’m lucky I got to watch such amazing swimming on a live stream and participate in a website so dedicated to swimming.

David Avery

You have a beautiful name


Sound quality is irritating, but my pet peeve in swimming video is using a close-up shot on one swimmer. I realize Katie Ledecky makes it harder to include other swimmers in the frame, but try to show them. Some people might even say “the race is for second”. But there were extended periods where that “race for second” was not shown. Every swimmer in every heat has somebody who cares about that swimmer. Just keep the same zoom for the entire event, and let me decide what part of the race to watch. That way I won’t have to yell at my screen.

Charlie Hodgson

Agree 1000%. It is super irritating not be able to see all of the swimmers all of the time, especially if one of the other swimmers is someone you are following. Another irritating method is the placement of the heat list over the entire middle of the screen while the swimmers are being announced which means you can’t see the swimmers. Move the heat list over to the right at least.

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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