2019 WOMEN’S NCAA SWIMMING & DIVING CHAMPIONSHIPS
- Wednesday, March 30- Saturday, March 23
- Lee & Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Center, Austin, Texas
- Defending champion: Stanford (2x) (2018 results)
- Psych Sheet
- Championship Central
The past two years, 1-meter has been a thriller. Minnesota sophomore Sarah Bacon won last year, topping a pair of seniors by 10 points, with Texas sophomore Alison Gibson fourth and 23 points back. That’s an ongoing rivalry, as the two dueled as freshmen for the 1-meter title in 2017, with Gibson winning narrowly, 332.60 to 326.50.
In addition, that 2017 meet featured UCLA’s Maria Polyakova in third, just 0.7 points back of Bacon. Polyakova took a medical redshirt last year, but returns for her senior season this year. Expect these three to renew their battle for the NCAA crown this year.
Behind them, Arizona’s Delaney Schnell and Northwestern’s Olivia Rosendahl return from last year’s top 8. Two of the A finalists last year were seniors and two underclassmen didn’t qualify for NCAAs this year, opening up several new spots.
Two freshmen to watch are Stanford’s Daria Lenz and Carolina Sculti. They were 4th and 5th in Zone E behind Polyakova, Schnell and UCLA’s Eloise Belanger, a B finalist in 2017 who narrowly missed scoring last year. Sculti won the Ohio State Invite at midseason with Lenz second, and the two should be point-scorers this year, if not A finalists.
Arkansas’ Brooke Schultz won the B final on 1-meter last year, then came right back to win the national title on 3-meter. She was runner-up to Bacon in Zone D on 1-meter and it’s probably fair to say her missing the A final on 1-meter last year had more to do with being a freshman than it did with being much better on 3-meter than 1.
Other top B finalists from last year are Indiana’s Jessica Parratto, LSU’s Elizabeth Cui (who was 5th overall in this event in 2017) and Florida’s Brooke Madden.
Top 8 Picks:
Arkansas freshman Brooke Schultz won the national title here last year by five points, and with the second-through-fifth-place finishers graduating, she’s in good shape to repeat.
Maybe the top threat will be NCAA newcomer Vicky Xu out of Kansas. Xu beat returning NCAA finalist Samantha Bromberg and a tough Texas crew at Big 12s, and notably beat Schultz head-to-head in an Arkansas-Nebraska dual meet this February. Those two look like the top threats, and once again, UCLA’s Maria Polyakova returns after a redshirt season. She was 5th in this event in 2017.
Three more return from last year’s A final. Bromberg was 6th last year, Indiana’s Jessica Parratto 7th and Minnesota’s Sarah Bacon 8th. Parratto beat Bacon by 3 at Big Tens. Meanwhile Bacon had the highest score of the bunch in prelims at NCAAs last year – in fact, she was second overall coming out of prelims – but faded in the final to 8th. We’ll bet on Bacon ironing out her balance between prelims and finals, but it’s a toss-up between these three.
There’s a host of threats for the remaining A final spots. UNC freshman Emily Grund looked great in winning the Zone B title. That’s not necessarily the most competitive zone, but Grund is a pretty accomplished junior diver who should be in the scoring hunt. Other highly-rated freshmen include Stanford’s duo of Lenz and Sculti.
Northwestern’s Olivia Rosendahl was 9th last year and had a huge score from the B final – but she failed to qualify in this event and won’t be competing on 3-meter at NCAAs. That leaves UCLA’s Eloise Belanger as the top returner from the B final, followed by Texas’s Alison Gibson. Also keep an eye on Minnesota’s Kristen Hayden and Texas’s Meghan O’Brien, who both placed in a tough Zone D field.
Top 8 Picks:
Northwestern’s Olivia Rosendahl is looking to win her third-straight NCAA title on platform. But she’s going to have to get by rival Jessica Parratto of Indiana, who has had Rosendahl’s number this year.
Parratto beat Rosendahl head-to-head for the Big Ten title by a whopping 30 points, and also topped Rosendahl at the Zone C Championships by 60, beating the entire field by 43. On the other hand, Parratto beat Rosendahl at Big Tens in 2017 and 2018 as well, but Rosendahl did return to win the NCAA title a month later.
Last year, Parratto was just 7th at NCAAs. Texas’s Samantha Bromberg was the closest to Rosendahl, finishing second by about 11 points. She returns, as does third-place Eloise Belanger of UCLA.
The newcomer to watch is Florida International’s Maha Gouda. The Egyptian Olympian is now an FIU freshman, and blew out the field at the Mizzou Invite mid-season by about 32 points. Gouda also won Zone B on platform, and figures to be somewhere between an A final threat and a national title contender – it’s tough to pin down, since she hasn’t really faced any of the top contenders head-to-head yet this season.
Ohio State’s Lara Tarvit was fifth last year and returns out of Zone C. Meanwhile Nebraska’s Abigail Knapton was an A finalist in 2017 and 2018, finishing as high as 4th in 2017 but slipping to 8th last year. One to watch out for: Purdue’s Emily Meaney was 7th as a freshman in 2017, but slid all the way to 27th last season. She looks to be back, though, after taking 3rd behind Parratto and Rosendahl at Big Tens and qualifying out of the tough Zone C with a second-place performance, ahead of Rosendahl.
Top 8 Picks:
|4||Maha Gouda||Florida International||—|
|7||Lara Tarvit||Ohio State||5th|