2020 W. NCAA Previews: Weitzeil Aiming for 2nd Sub-21 to Defend 50 Free Title

2020 NCAA DIVISION I WOMEN’S SWIMMING & DIVING CHAMPIONSHIPS

50 FREESTYLE

Cal’s Abbey Weitzeil, the reigning NCAA Champion, made history this season as the first woman to break 21 in the 50 free. Weitzeil turned in a 20.90 at the Minnesota Invite, breaking the American and NCAA Record. At the 2020 Pac-12 Championships, Weitzeil took down the Pac-12 Meet Record in 21.03, but hyper-extended her arm on the finish, causing her to scratch the rest of the meet. She suffered a similar injury at last season’s NCAAs, and had to swim the final day with a taped up arm.

Tennessee’s Erika Brown won the SEC title for the 3rd-straight season, putting up the 3rd fastest time in history with her 21.03. She’s the 2nd fastest performer in history and is looking for her first NCAA title. SEC runner-up Anna Hopkin put up a 21.19 at midseason and remains the 4th fastest performer ever. She was off her time at SECs, but swam a blistering 20.27 split on the 200 free relay anchor for the fastest in history. Michigan’s Maggie MacNeil is another title threat after becoming the 8th fastest woman in history with her 21.30 at Big Tens.

A handful of teams have multiple potential finalists. Auburn’s sprint group had a strong showing at SECs. Julie Meynen swam a lifetime best 21.54 at SECs, just ahead of Claire Fisch with a lifetime best 21.60. NC State has 2017 ACC Champion Ky-Lee Perry, whose season best is a 21.78 but she’s been as fast as a 21.57 from last season’s NCAAs. Teammate Kylee Alons is the 2020 ACC Champion with a lifetime best 21.63. In additional to MacNeil, Michigan has a top-8 threat in Daria Pyshnenko, who set a lifetime best 21.82 at Big Tens.

There are quite a few of the top-ranked swimmers in this event from the ACC. Virginia’s Kate Douglass, the 5th fastest in the event this season, has opted for the 200 IM instead. Teammate Morgan Hill, the ACC runner-up and 2019 ACC Champion, comes in at the 9th seed in 21.76. Her best is a 21.68 from last season’s ACC meet. Duke’s Alyssa Marsh is the 11th seed after clocking a 21.78 at ACCs.

The 12th-19th seeds are bunched into the 21-high range. If they have a good morning swim, they could end up in the final. Ohio State’s Freya Rayner comes in with a 21.85, her lifetime best from Big Tens. Aside from Weitzeil, USC’s Marta Ciesla (21.86) and Stanford’s Anya Goeders (21.91) are the top swimmers coming in from the Pac-12.

TOP 8 PICKS:

Place Swimmer Season Best Lifetime Best
1 Abbey Weitzeil (Cal) 20.90 20.90
2 Erika Brown (Tennessee) 21.03 21.03
3 Maggie MacNeil (Michigan) 21.30 21.30
4 Anna Hopkin (Arkansas) 21.19 21.19
5 Ky-Lee Perry (NC State) 21.78 21.57
6 Julie Meynen (Auburn) 21.54 21.54
7 Kylee Alons (NC State) 21.63 21.63
8 Sarah Thompson (Missouri) 21.53 21.53

Darkhorse: Maddie Murphy (Cal) – Murphy is ranked just 30th with her season-best 22.14. However, her best is a 21.76 from her freshman season NCAAs (2017). Murphy won the B final in 2019. She’s been a staple relay sprinter for Cal. Last season, she led off their record-smashing 200 free relay in 21.82.

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Swimdood
6 months ago

Good luck to all. Brown is looking too good to not win!

IM FAN
6 months ago

I’m worried about her arm injury. It might not effect her too much, but Brown is close enough that that minuscule effect could cost her. I’m taking Brown.

Andy
6 months ago

Lauren, any word on Weitzel’s injury?

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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