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


Swimmers are gearing up for the first prelims session of the 2018 Women’s NCAA Championships in Columbus, Ohio. Today’s individual races include the 500 free, 200 IM, and 50 free. The 200 free relay and 400 medley relay will bookend the session. All 3 individual races feature the defending champion. Stanford’s Katie Ledecky (500 free), Simone Manuel (50 free), and Ella Eastin (200 IM) are chasing their own records today as the Cardinal swimmers hold the NCAA Records in all 3 individual races. In the 200 IM, defending NCAA champion Kathleen Baker is there to challenge. Cal’s Abbey Weitzeil, the American record holder, will dive in for the 50 free.

Click here to view the Thursday prelims heat sheet.


  • NCAA Record: Cal, 2017, 1:25.59
  • American Record: Cal, 2018, 1:25.87
  • Championship Record: Cal, 2017, 1:25.59
  • 2017 Champion: Cal, 1:25.59

Top 8 Qualifiers:

  1. Stanford- 1:25.68
  2. Tennessee- 1:26.85
  3. Cal- 1:26.93
  4. Louisville- 1:27.11
  5. Ohio State- 1:27.38
  6. Virginia- 1:27.60
  7. Michigan- 1:27.87
  8. Texas- 1:28.03

In the first heat of the day, Stanford charged to a new American Record time of 1:25.68, narrowly missing the NCAA Record set by Cal. The team of Janet Hu (leadoff- 21.74), Simone Manuel (21.42), Lauren Pitzer (21.45), and Ally Howe (21.07) got the job done this morning.

Tennessee was 2nd through prelims, with Bailey Grinter (21.59) and Erika Brown (21.42) putting up 21-mids through the back half. Abbey Weitzeil led off in 21.54 and Katie McLaughlin anchored in 21.67 to help the Bears to 3rd seed. Louisville’s Mallory Comerford put up a quick 21.11 on the 2nd leg, but Ohio State’s Liz Li had the fastest split overall in 21.00. Virginia got one of the fastest splits this morning from Caitlin Cooper‘s 21.29 anchor.

NC State was just outside of the top 8, finishing 9th. Ky-Lee Perry was back in action for the Wolfpack, leading off in 22.23.


Top 8 Qualifiers:

  1. Katie Ledecky (Stanford)- 4:29.73
  2. Jenn Marrkand (Virginia)- 4:35.53
  3. Kaersten Meitz (Purdue)- 4:35.82
  4. Kirsten Jacobsen (Arizona)- 4:36.07
  5. G Ryan (Michigan)- 4:36.42
  6. Katie Drabot (Stanford)- 4:36.68
  7. Evie Pfeifer (Texas)- 4:37.12
  8. Hannah Moore (NC State)- 4:37.25

As usual, Katie Ledecky was body lengths ahead of the field as she won the final heat in 4:29.73. She’ll be joined in tonight’s final by teammate Katie Drabot. The fastest swimmer behind Ledecky this morning was Virginia’s Jenn Marrkand, who dropped 4 seconds to get into the 4:35-range. Purdue’s Kaersten Meitz was a few tenths back, knocking over half a second from her time to hold off Arizona’s Kirsten Jacobsen in the first circle seeded heat. Jacobsen knocked nearly a second and a half from her time, while NC State’s Hannah Moore came in behind her to sneak into the final at 8th.

Michigan’s Rose Bi, who finaled in this race last year, is out of the top 8 at 11th, but the Wolverines will still be represented by returning finalist G Ryan in the championship heat. Ryan made a late charge to finish 2nd in the final heat this morning, moving ahead of Texas’ Evie Pfeifer, who will represent the Horns in the final as a freshman. Fellow Longhorn distance standout Joanna Evans was absent from last night’s relay and didn’t swim her individual races at Big 12s. She landed 35th this morning in 4:42.98.

Narrowly shy of the final was Stanford freshman Brooke Forde (4:37.40). Penn State’s Ally McHugh (4:37.80) and Michigan’s Bi (4:37.94) were also in the 4:37-range.

Louisville’s Mallory Comerford, who put up a blistering 1:39.14 split in last night’s 800 free relay, is out of the final. She placed 7th in the penultimate heat with a 4:41.24. That swim came shortly after her quick 21.11 split on the 200 free relay.

Early Heats- Virginia’s Jenn Marrkand had a big swim from heat 6, dropping a 4:35.53 to lead the way into the circle seeded heats. That was a 4-second drop for her. Stanford’s Megan Byrnes was also sub-4:40 there in 4:38.87. NC State’s Tamila Holub made a big drop to win heat 2, knocking 3.5 seconds off her time to win it in 4:40.22. Teammate Anna Jahns dropped about 3 seconds in 4:40.99. Minnesota’s Chantal Nack dropped over a second in 4:40.47.

*We have a TIE for 16th at 4:38.87 between Georgia’s Courtney Harnish and Stanford’s Megan Byrnes*


Top 8 Qualifiers:

  1. Sydney Pickrem (Texas A&M)- 1:53.48
  2. Ella Eastin (Stanford)- 1:53.74
  3. Beata Nelson (Wisconsin)- 1:53.82
  4. Meghan Small (Tennessee)- 1:54.04
  5. Bethany Galat (Texas A&M)- 1:54.20
  6. Kathleen Baker (Cal)- 1:54.22
  7. Bailey Andison (Denver)- 1:54.44
  8. Asia Seidt (Kentucky)- 1:54.78

Wisconsin’s Beata Nelson shot off to the early lead in the final heat, but Texas A&M’s Sydney Pickrem chased her down on the back half to take top seed for finals. That time for Nelson clipped her former best by a few hundredths. Tennessee’s Meghan Small and Texas A&M’s Bethany Galat also landed in the top 8.

Defending champ Kathleen Baker of Cal and NCAA Record holder Ella Eastin of Stanford battled in heat 8. Texas A&M’s Lisa Bratton (1:55.20) took the early lead in that heat, but fell back on the breast leg. Baker and Eastin pushed ahead, with Eastin outsplitting Baker on the free to win it 1:53.78 to 1:54.22. Denver’s Bailey Andison came through on the back half to take 3rd there in 1:54.44.

In heat 7, Kentucky’s Asia Seidt held a convincing lead going into the free leg. Michigan’s Siobhan Haughey started to reel her in down the stretch, but Seidt still took the win in 1:54.78 to Haughey’s 1:55.01. Stanford’s Ally Howe (1:55.54) was 3rd there. Cal freshman Sarah Darcel touched 4th in 1:55.75.

Early Heats- Indiana’s Lilly King (1:56.13) leads heading into the circle seeded heats, holding off Virginia freshman Abby Richter (1:56.18) into the finish.


Top 8 Qualifiers:

  1. Liz Li (Ohio State)- 21.46
  2. Abbey Weitzeil (Cal)- 21.49
  3. (T-3) Simone Manuel (Stanford)- 21.60
  4. (T-3) Erika Brown (Tennessee)- 21.60
  5. Beryl Gastaldello (texas A&M)- 21.63
  6. Carolina Baldwin (UNC)- 21.80
  7. Aly Tetzloff (Auburn)- 21.85
  8. Caitlin Cooper (Virginia)- 21.95

Ohio State’s Liz Li put on a show for the home crowd this morning, turning in a 21.46 to take top seed. Cal’s Abbey Weitzeil was just a few hundredth back, winning the final heat in 21.49 as she out-touched Stanford’s Simone Manuel (21.60). Tennessee’s Erika Brown is tied with Manuel for 3rd seed after winning the first circle seeded heat.

Texas A&M’s Béryl Gastaldello clipped her best time to take 3rd behind Weitzeil and Manuel in the final heat. Auburn’s Aly Tetzloff was a nail off her best to qualify 7th. UNC’s Caroline Baldwin swam to 6th seed, while Virginia’s Caitlin Cooper nabbed a finals spot at 8th.

Just out of making the final were Cal’s Maddie Murphy (21.96) and Amy Bilquist (21.97).

Early Heats- Virginia’s Morgan Hill picked up the heat 5 win in 22.15 over Arizona’s Katrina Konopka (22.20).


WINNER: Courtney Harnish (Georgia)- 4:45.33

Stanford’s Megan Byrnes and Georgia’s Courtney Harnish were neck-and-neck through the 300. Byrnes started to make a move, taking a slight lead, but Harnish fought back with 100 yards to go. She took over the lead heading into the final 50, but Byrnes pulled back up down the final stretch. It was a close call at the finish, but Harnish held off Byrnes by a nail to win 4:45.33 to 4:45.38.


  • 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

Top 8 Qualifiers:

  1. Stanford- 3:27.58
  2. Indiana- 3:28.19
  3. Tennessee- 3:28.49
  4. Louisville- 3:28.50
  5. Minnesota- 3:28.81
  6. Texas A&M- 3:28.92
  7. Cal- 3:30.25
  8. Texas- 3:30.60

Stanford swam to a new Pool Record with Janet Hu (back- 51.21), Grace Zhao (breast- 58.69), Lindsey Engel (fly- 50.98), and Simone Manuel (free- 46.70). Indiana was the 2nd fastest this morning, with Lilly King putting up the fastest breast split of the field in 56.59. Louisville’s Mallory Comerford bounced back, anchoring for the Cardinals in 46.13 to give them the fastest anchor split this morning. The fastest fly split this morning came from USC’s Louise Hansson in 49.63.


Top 16

1. Sarah Bacon (Minnesota)- 339.75
2. Julia Vincent (South Carolina)- 320.25
3. Alison Gibson (Texas)- 319.95
4. Frida Kaellgren (ASU)- 309.15
5. Sharae Zheng (Nevada)- 308.25
6. Olivia Rosendahl (Texas)- 305.80
7. Rachel Rubadue (Tennessee)- 300.10
8. Delaney Schnell (Arizona)- 295.55
9. Brooke Schultz (Arkansas)- 295.20
T-10. Addison Walkowiak (Rutgers)- 294.60
T-10. Brooke Madden (Florida)- 294.60
12. Jessica Parrato (Indiana)- 291.60
13. Samantha Reese (Purdue)- 290.10
14. Elizabeth Cui (LSU)- 287.00
15. Wally Layland (Miami)- 286.90
16. Morgan Meixner (Purdue)- 285.45

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5 years ago

Thoughts on the 50:
Manual’s start was insane.
Erika Brown’s ascension is awesome but really confuses me.
Weitzel looked devastated on the podium. . . hope she can bounce back for the relay tonight.
Happy for Bilquist and Murphey going 1-2 in the B-final. It sucks that they missed the A-final by .02 and .01

5 years ago

Baker had an amazing swim but eastin’s last two underwaters were just too good….

5 years ago

First time I’ve ever rooted for an announcer to never shut up

5 years ago

Two more big finals for Texas in diving.
The race for 3rd, 4th, and 5th gets even better.

5 years ago

Diving results?

5 years ago

well Florida won’t replicate their scoreless year, they had a diver scores spot in the consolation final

5 years ago

How come FSU and UNC were not dq’ed in the 400 medley relay for early takeoffs? FSU Lexi Smith was -.01 and UNC Caroline Hauder was -.03?

Reply to  Curious
5 years ago

You can’t call a DQ exclusively based upon touchpad reaction times. Official must call. Then if called and swimmer is within -.03, they are considered ‘legal’

Reply to  person
5 years ago

Person – not sure what rule you are looking at.

If the electronic relay takeoff equipment detects an exchange differential
(takeoff pad time minus finish pad time) of –0.09 through +0.09 second
inclusive from the manufacturer’s starting point, the decision(s) of the
human judge(s) shall not be considered. The determination of the electronic
relay takeoff equipment shall be official, with exchange differential of –0.09
through –0.01 second from the manufacturer’s starting point indicating
a rules violation and values of 0.00 through +0.09 second indicating a
legitimate relay exchange.

Reply to  person
5 years ago

OSU in the 200 free relay seeded 5th also had an early take off r:-0.01 *Liz Li

as did FSU

r:-0.03 Elise Olsen FR

Reply to  Curious
5 years ago

You’re allowed -0.03 anything earlier is a dq

5 years ago

The racing is stellar! All these athletes have worked very hard all season and have made sacrifices for their sport. This is going to be a fast and and thrilling meet. Enjoy!

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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