2021 NCAA Division II Women’s Swimming & Diving Championships – Fan Guide

2021 NCAA Division II Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships

The 2021 NCAA Division II Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships kick off Wednesday, March 17 in Birmingham, Alabama. The five-time defending champions, Queens University of Charlotte, will be hoping to extend their winning streak to six years in a row (with the caveat that there was no national champion in 2020*). The Royals come into the meet heavily favored with 13 swimmers, 11 of whom are projected to score top-8 in 26 swims.

(*The 2020 Division II national championship meet was stopped between prelims and finals on Day 2 amid growing concerns about the COVID pandemic. Divisions I and III, scheduled to begin a week later in mid-March 2020, were canceled altogether.)

Drury University, who ruled the pool from 2005 to 2014 winning ten straight national titles, has qualified 12 swimmers this year. The Panthers are projected to finish second in the swimming events but might face a strong challenge from University of Indianapolis, with 10 swimmers and 1 diver, and Lindenwood University, with 9 swimmers and 4 divers.

Other teams whose swimming projections stand to be augmented by their divers include Grand Valley State University (6 divers pre-qualified); St. Cloud State University (5); University of West Florida (5); Lindenwood University (4); Colorado Mesa University (4); and Davenport University (3). NOTE: the divers have not yet completed the prequalifying event, so we don’t yet know who will in fact compete for the 310 diving points.

Stars

Diving

In 2020, the women were able to complete the 3-meter diving event before the meet was shut down. Wayne State senior Amanda Hurchalla is the highest-scoring diver back again this year; she was third in 3-meter in 2020. Sophomores Mandy Baird (Northern Michigan) and Kelsey DeJesus (West Florida) and senior Madison Brinkman (St. Cloud State) were also top-8 scorers in the event last year.

Five of the eight B finalists from 2020’s 3-meter final are back this year: sophomore Meredith Matchinsky (St. Cloud State); juniors Elle Christie (Lindenwood), Allyson Schafer (Grand Valley), and Ali Lange (Colorado Mesa); and senior Alyssa Doherty (St. Cloud State).

Freestyle

With the exception of the 1000 free, where Drury junior Allison Weber (9:57.33) and sophomore Marina Amorim (9:58.06) come in with the two fastest times, Queens has at least two of the top-8 seeds in each event. Weber is the highest-scoring returner in this event; she placed 5th in 2020. Weber and Amorim are respectively seeded 2nd (16:37.22) and 6th (16:51.72) in the mile and 5th (4:52.45) and 4th (4:52.39) in the 500, as well. Wingate’s Kaitlyn Agger, a junior, finished 6th last year and is seeded with the 5th time (10:02.79) in the 1000 free. She is also 4th in the 1650 free (16:45.37), and 10th in the 500 free (4:54.68).

Queens senior Francesca Bains, the #3 seed in the 1000 free (9:59.80), has the top time in the 1650 free (16:35.74) and is #2 in the 500 free (4:50.67). Her teammate sophomore Giulia Grasso is the fastest entrant in the 200 free (1:47.68) and 500 free (4:50.44), while freshman Sophia Lange (16.40.77) is 3rd in the mile. Bains was runner-up in the 1000 and 1650 at the 2019 NCAA D2 Championships; she was also 4th in the 500 free. Last year she was 13th in the 1000 on Day 1 and had qualified 2nd for the 400 IM final on Day 2 before they canceled the meet. On the sprint side, Queens sophomore Danielle Melilli tops the field in the 50 free (22.93) and 100 free (49.22). She placed 3rd in the 50 free final last year on Day 1.

Drury sophomore Katarzyna Rogowska is the only other sub-23 entrant in the 50 free; she is seeded second with 22.95. UIndy junior Johanna Buys (23.06) and sophomore Leticia Vaselli (23.21) and 3rd and 4th. West Florida junior Ester Rizzeto is the #2 seed in the 100 free with 49.71. Vaselli (9th) and Rizzeto (12th) were consolation finalists in the 50 in 2020. Rizzeto finished 8th in 2019. Buys is seeded 6th in the 100 free (50.15).

Backstroke

Drury junior Laura Pareja comes to Birmingham with the fastest seed times in the 100 back (52.91) and the 200 back (1:55.66). Those are big improvements over her seed times from last year’s meet (53.90/1:58.19). Queens senior Rachel Massaro (53.69/1:57.80) is seeded 2nd and 3rd in the respective backstroke events. Her teammate junior Bobbie Gichard has the #2 seed time in the 200 back (1:57.50). Massaro and Gichard placed 2nd and 3rd in the 100 back at the 2019 NCAA Championships. Gichard won the 200 back as a freshman that year; Massaro was runner-up.

Lindenwood sophomore Stephanie Marks (53.90) and UIndy junior Katie McCoy (53.95) are seeded 3rd and 4th in the 100 back. Katelyn Thomas, Concordia Irvine’s only entrant in the meet, is seeded 5th (54.48). Concordia moved from NAIA to NCAA Division II, official joining the latter after a three-year transition period, in November 2017.

UIndy freshman Mia Krstevska brings the #4 time in the 200 back (1:58.41). West Chester senior Savannah Tice (1:58.52) and UIndy’s McCoy (1:58.68) are seeded 5th and 6th.

With the graduation of NCAA record-holder Bailee Nunn of Drury, the breaststroke field has opened up for 2021. Queens sophomore Melilli (1:01.80) and Colorado Mesa junior Lily Borgenheimer (2:09.67) top the respective fields on the 100 breast and 200 breast psych sheets. Lindenwood sophomore Beata Maruszczyk (1:01.93/2:12.94) is seeded second in both distances. Kailee Morgan, a sophomore from Carson-Newman, ranks 3rd in the 100 breast with a seed time of 1:02.02, while junior Bec Cross of Drury (2:14.03).

Three more are seeded in the top-8 of both the 100 breast and 200 breast: Nova S’eastern junior Savanna Best (5th/6th), Wingate senior Anne-Sofie Nissen (6th/5th), and IUP senior Claire Mikesell (8th/4th). In 2019, Mikesell placed 7th in the 200 breast while Nissen was a B-finalist in both distances.

Butterfly

Delta State senior Lucia Martelli tops the entrants in the 100 fly with 54.34. Juniors Kayla Tennant of Queens (54.37) and Paige Mikesell of IUP (54.45) rank 2nd and 3rd. Martelli won the 100 fly consolation final in 2019 and posted the 12th-fastest time in prelims last year. Mikesell and Tennant qualified top-8 last year.

Paige Mikesell is the #1 seed in the 200 fly this year with 1:59.65. UIndy senior Marizel Van Jaarsveld (1:59.86) and Queens freshman Lange (1:59.97) are the only other sub-2:00 entrants. Tennant of Queens and Delta State’s Martelli are seeded 6th (2:00.50) and 7th (2:02.17).

Individual Medley

Drury’s Bec Cross is seeded first in both the 200 IM and 400 IM. In 2020, she finished 3rd in the final of the 200 and swam the fastest time in morning heats of the 400 IM on Day 2 before the meet was stopped. In 2019, she finished 4th in the 200 IM final and 3rd in the 400 IM final as a freshman.

UIndy junior McCoy (2:00.03/4:15.48) and senior Van Jaarsveld (2:00.92/4:15.87) are seeded second and third in both distances.

Carson-Newman junior Meredith Ginn (2:01.18) and Queens’ Bains (4:17.39) come in with the 4th times in the 200 and 400 IMs, respectively.

Team Race

The top women’s ten teams from the psych sheet, including distance events and relays, but excluding diving, are as follows:

  1. Queens (NC) – 645.5
  2. Drury – 466
  3. UIndy – 414
  4. Lindenwood – 336
  5. Wingate – 255.5
  6. Delta State – 203
  7. Carson-Newman – 177
  8. Tampa – 159
  9. Nova S’eastern – 154
  10. Colorado Mesa – 137.5

Projected Scorers – Top 10 Individuals, Swimming Only

  1. Bec Cross, Drury – 72
  2. Francesca Bains, Queens (NC) – 68
  3. Beata Maruszczyk, Lindenwood – 64
  4. Marizel Van Jaarsveld, UIndy – 63
  5. Katie McCoy, UIndy / Danielle Melilli, Queens (NC) – 62 (tie)
  6. Sophie Lange, Queens (NC) – 57
  7. Ester Rizzetto, West Florida – 54.5
  8. Lexie Baker, Queens (NC) – 53
  9. Allison Weber, Drury – 52

4-Day Schedule – Finals

Wednesday, March 17

  • 1000-yard freestyle
  • 200-yard individual medley
  • 50-yard freestyle
  • 200-yard medley relay

Thursday, March 18

  • 200-yard freestyle relay
  • 400-yard individual medley
  • 100-yard butterfly
  • 200-yard freestyle
  • 1-meter diving (W)
  • 400-yard medley relay

Friday, March 19

  • 500-yard freestyle
  • 100-yard backstroke
  • 100-yard breaststroke
  • 200-yard butterfly
  • 800-yard freestyle relay

Saturday, March 20

  • 1650-yard freestyle
  • 100-yard freestyle
  • 200-yard backstroke
  • 200-yard breaststroke
  • 3-meter diving (W)
  • 400-yard freestyle relay

 

 

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About Anne Lepesant

Anne Lepesant

Anne Lepesant is the mother of four daughters, all of whom swam in college. With an undergraduate degree from Princeton (where she was an all-Ivy tennis player) and an MBA from INSEAD, she worked for many years in the financial industry, both in France and the U.S. Anne is currently …

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