2021 NCAA Women’s Championships: Day 2 Finals Live Recap


Update: A Tornado Warning in Greensboro has delayed the start of finals until 6:30 Eastern.

This morning, we saw Virginia hold on to top seeds in all three individual events. Kate Douglass snapped the ACC record and Greensboro Aquatic Center pool record in the 50 free, while Paige Madden and freshman Alex Walsh looked smooth in the 500 free and 200 IM, respectively.

In the team race, UVA is set-up to extend their lead, while NC State and Cal each had strong mornings, too. Minnesota’s Sarah Bacon looks primed to defend her 2019 NCAA title in this event, while the 200 free relay and 400 medley relay timed finals will also run tonight. These are not prelims-finals relays, as COVID-19 changes have led to all five relays running in timed finals format at night.


  • NCAA Record: Cal (Murphy, McLaughlin, Bilquist, Weitzeil), 1:24.55 — 2019
  • American Record: Cal (Murphy, McLaughlin, Bilquist, Weitzeil), 1:24.55 — 2019
  • US Open Record: Cal (Murphy, McLaughlin, Bilquist, Weitzeil), 1:24.55 — 2019
  • Meet Record: Cal (Murphy, McLaughlin, Bilquist, Weitzeil), 1:24.55 — 2019
  • 2019 Champion: Cal (Murphy, McLaughlin, Bilquist, Weitzeil), 1:24.55
  • 2020 Top Performer: Auburn (Meynen, Fisch, Kutsch, Clevenger), 1:25.41

Top 3

  1. Cal – 1:25.78
  2. Virginia – 1:25.97
  3. NC State – 1:26.27

The final heat saw Kate Douglass clock a 21.09 to become the #3 performer in history leading off the Cavaliers, though NC State and Cal caught up over the third leg. Cal came back, though, and Isabel Ivey anchored them to the win at 1:25.78 ahead of Virginia’s 1:25.97.

We’d talked about Virginia potentially making a run at all five relays, but Cal was really impressive tonight. Ivey was 21.22 to lead Cal, but what really gave them that winning speed were middle legs Emily Gantriis and Elise Garcia. The freshman Gantriis was 21.23, giving it over to Garcia in 21.24. Eloise Riley, meanwhile, was 22.09 leading off.

Cal has now claimed five of the last six NCAA titles in the 200 free relay.

After Douglass’s lead-off, UVA still got three 21s, as Lexi Cuomo followed in 21.63, Kyla Valls was 21.97 and Alex Walsh anchored in 21.28, not quite able to withstand Cal’s three hammer legs.

NC State was third in the final heat, also getting 21s across the board: Katharine Berkoff was 21.81 leading off, followed by Kylee Alons (21.27), Sirena Rowe (21.47) and Sophie Hansson (21.72).

In heat four, Mizzou ran away with it, getting a 21.2 split from Sarah Thompson. The Tigers dropped three-tenths from seed, going 1:27.01 to take over the top time of the night from UNC with one heat remaining. Their time wold hold up for fourth overall.

Tennessee came from behind to win the third heat, clocking a 1:28.70, the entire heat adding time. They had 21.9 splits from Natalie Ungaretti and Bailey Grinter.

The heat two win went to North Carolina at 1:28.08, a triumphant season-best for them after COVID-19 positive tests significantly affected their ACC roster. Grace Countie led off in 21.81, a new best for her, while Heidi Lowe and Sophie Lindner both split 21.9s. Their time made it through to seventh once all the results were in.

In heat one, Northwestern picked up the win, anchored to a top finish by Maddie Smith‘s 21.76. The Wildcats clocked a 1:28.90, their first time under 1:29 this season, and it’s also a school record. Since there are only 18 teams racing, and they beat two teams, they’ll pick up at least two points.


  • NCAA Record: Katie Ledecky (Stanford), 4:24.06 – 2017
  • American Record: Katie Ledecky (Stanford), 4:24.06 – 2017
  • U.S. Open Record: Katie Ledecky (Stanford), 4:24.06 – 2017
  • Meet Record: Katie Ledecky (Stanford), 4:24.06 – 2017
  • 2019 Champion: Brooke Forde (Stanford), 4:31.34
  • 2020 Top Performer: Emma Nordin (Arizona State), 4:33.74

Top 3

  1. Paige Madden (Virginia) – 4:33.61
  2. Evie Pfeifer (Texas) – 4:35.02
  3. Brooke Forde (Stanford) – 4:35.22

Paige Madden of Virginia jumped out to the early lead, flipping at 1:47.44, with Texas’s Evie Pfeifer and Stanford’s Brooke Forde in tow as the rest of the field faded out.

Madden made her move at the halfway point, going from 27.8 to 27.5, 27.4, 27.5, then fell off the pace a bit on the final 100. She still took the win by over a second, going 4:33.61. Pfeifer fought hard to edge Forde for second, 4:35.02 to 4:35.22.

Madden was 51st in this event as a freshman, so it’s been an impressive journey to the top for the senior.

Michigan’s Sierra Schmidt was fourth in 4:39.30, ahead of Cal’s Ayla Spitz (4:39.70)and NC State’s Kate Moore (4:39.71). Schmidt’s ascension has been duly noted– she was seeded last in prelims, jumped into the A-final at fourth and held her seed tonight in the final. The top seven women here also improved from prelims.

In the B-final, Tennessee sophomore Kristen Stege dropped from 4:41 down to 4:39.89 to win the heat, claiming nine points for the Lady Vols. Alabama junior Kensey McMahon dropped two seconds to grab second (4:39.98), and Florida’s Tylor Mathieu also dropped time, going 4:40.34 for third.


Top 3

  1. Alex Walsh (Virginia) – 1:51.87
  2. Zoie Hartman (Georgia) – 1:53.34
  3. Alicia Wilson (Cal) – 1:54.51

Virginia’s Alex Walsh built a lead going into the midway point, going out in 24.7/27.5 for a 52.3 first 100, and split a 32.5 on the breast leg to go into the free leg with a huge lead. Walsh brought it home in 27.0, posting a 1:51.87, a few tenths off of the time she went to beat Kate Douglass at ACCs.

Walsh was fastest in the field in all splits except for the fly.

Georgia sophomore Zoie Hartman was second in 1:53.34, utilizing a 32.33 to pull past Cal’s Alicia Wilson. The Golden Bear was third in 1:54.51, just able to hold off Wisconsin freshman Phoebe Bacon (1:54.55) and Virginia sophomore Ella Nelson (1:54.74).

Bacon was out very hard, going 52.60 to challenge Walsh on the front-half, and while she fell off on breast (34.5), she was still 27.39 to close hard and nearly snag third.

Virginia opens up a 20-plus-point lead now, while Cal is also well ahead of the rest of the field.

The B-final went to Abby Hay of Louisville, who clocked a new best of 1:56.02 with a great final underwater.


  • NCAA Record: Abbey Weitzeil (Cal), 20.90 – 2019
  • American Record: Abbey Weitzeil (Cal), 20.90 – 2019
  • U.S. Open Record: Abbey Weitzeil (Cal), 20.90 – 2019
  • Meet Record: Abbey Weitzeil (Cal), 21.02 – 2019
  • 2019 Champion: Abbey Weitzeil (Cal), 21.02
  • 2020 Top Performer: Abbey Weitzeil (Cal), 20.90

Top 3

  1. Kate Douglass (Virginia) – 21.13
  2. Maggie MacNeil (Michigan) – 21.17
  3. Sarah Thompson (Mizzou) – 21.42

After her 21.09 200 free relay lead-off earlier tonight, Virginia’s Kate Douglass mowed down the field with a 21.13, just off of her best from an hour or so ago. Michigan’s Maggie MacNeil had a huge swim for second, though, making this closer than expected.

MacNeil went 21.17, a lifetime best for her, and just .04 off of her split on Michigan’s 200 free relay with a flying start.

Mizzou’s Sarah Thompson broke 21.50 for third, clocking a new best 21.42, while NC State’s Kylee Alons nabbed fourth in 21.51.

After UNC was gutted by COVID positives right before ACC Championships, Grace Countie had a massive swim to take fifth in 21.60. Countie hadn’t been under 22 seconds until this morning’s 21.92, which was followed by her 21.81 relay lead-off earlier tonight.

Megan Keil of Mizzou wins the B-final in 21.87, ahead of Cal’s Emily Gantriis (21.90). USC freshman Kaitlyn Dobler broke 22 for the first time at 21.92, while Maxine Parker of Georgia was 21.96 and Emma Wheal of Stanford 21.96, all five dropping over .15 from prelims.


  • Meet Record: 363.20, Sarah Bacon (Minnesota) – 2019
  • 2019 Champion: Sarah Bacon (Minnesota), 363.20

Top 3

  1. Sarah Bacon (Minnesota) – 357.20
  2. Aranza Vazquez-Montano (UNC) – 348.45
  3. Brooke Schultz (Arkansas) – 335.85

Minnesota gets some points on the board here with Sarah Bacon defending her 2019 crown, scoring 357.20. Bacon won silver in this event at 2019 Worlds and won the Pan Am gold.


  • NCAA Record: Stanford (Howe, Williams, Hu, Manuel), 3:25.09 – 2018
  • American Record: Stanford (Howe, Williams, Hu, Manuel), 3:25.09 – 2018
  • U.S. Open Record: Stanford (Howe, Williams, Hu, Manuel), 3:25.09 – 2018
  • Meet Record: Stanford (Howe, Williams, Hu, Manuel), 3:25.09 – 2018
  • 2019 Champion: Cal (Bilquist, Raijc, McLaughlin, Weitzeil), 3:25.24
  • 2020 Top Performer: NC State (Berkoff, Hansson, Alons, Perry), 3:27.22

Top 3

  1. NC State – 3:24.59 – NCAA/U.S. OPEN RECORD
  2. Virginia – 3:25.13
  3. Texas – 3:27.83

Katharine Berkoff clocked a 50.07 to give NC State the lead off of the first 100, while Virginia freshman Reilly Tiltmann, who graduated high school early to join the ‘Hoo’s mid-season, was 50.42 for a huge lead-off for them, as they left off Alex Walsh.

But the Wolfpack continued to pour it on, as Sophie Hansson was 57.01, giving way to a massive 49.29 split from Kylee Alons. Senior Julia Poole, not primarily a sprint freestyler, brought it home in 48.22, enough to give NC State the title and a new NCAA and U.S. Open record of 3:24.59.

Virginia got a 57.71 from Alexis Wenger on brast and a 50.62 from Lexi Cuomo, and Kate Douglass pushed with a 46.31 anchor, not quite able to reclaim the lead. UVA still came .04 off of the old NCAA and U.S. Open record, as well as the American record (NC State didn’t get it since Hansson is Swedish).

Texas was third in the heat as freshmen Anna Elendt (58.05) and Olivia Bray (50.43) were big on the middle legs, while Cal was DQ’d here for an early take-off from their anchor leg after Isabel Ivey logged a 49.9 fly split.

Ohio State took heat four at 3:30.22, though they wouldn’t displace Michigan, Tennessee and Louisville who led after four heats.

Maggie MacNeil shot out to the lead for Michigan in heat three, going 49.76 to become the seventh woman under 50 seconds ever in the 100 back. The Wolverines, despite being out an anchor leg with Daria Pyshnenko retiring just before NCAAs, held on for the heat win at 3:29.75, just .06 ahead of Tennessee.

In heat two, Louisville had a dominant swim, clocking a 3:29.91 and dropping over two seconds from their seed.

Heat one saw North Carolina hold off Florida for the win, going 3:32.49.


  1. Virginia 184
  2. NC State 124
  3. Texas 119
  4. California 114
  5. Ohio St 101.5
  6. Alabama 90
  7. Georgia 85
  8. Stanford 84
  9. Michigan 78
  10. Kentucky 65
  11. Louisville 62
  12. UNC 61
  13. Mizzou 55
  14. Florida 53.5
  15. Tennessee 51
  16. Indiana/Texas A&M 30
  17. Northwestern 28
  18. Wisconsin 23
  19. USC 21
  20. Minnesota/Miami 20
  21. Arkansas 16
  22. Arizona 15
  23. Virginia Tech 11
  24. Nebraska/Akron 3
  25. Duke 2
  26. Houston 1

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1 year ago

Any stats on the greatest number of comments on a SwimSwam post?

Reply to  GoWP
1 year ago

We have them somewhere. This isn’t even close. We’ve gotten into the thousands.

1 year ago

So Regan Smith was just in time in breaking 50 in the 100 fly, If she had done it a week later the honor of being the first to break both 50s would have gone to macneil.

Reply to  Waader
1 year ago

Crazy to think how Natalie Coughlin almost did it and that was like 15+ years ago

1 year ago

Just watched the 200IM final and Alex Walsh has a consistent downward dolphin kick at the end of every breaststroke kick. It’s not an undulation… It’s cheating. Check it out on You Tube.

Reply to  Joy
1 year ago


Reply to  Aquaman
1 year ago

Yup. Watch again. Unmistakable.

Reply to  Joy
1 year ago

She really doesnt

Reply to  Joy
1 year ago

it is what they do now and judges allow it, is nice or in the essence of the rule not but money talks and new records are needed.

Reply to  Joy
1 year ago

If you consider that a dolphin kick I’d love to see you swim 100 fly with that as your kick and see if you get anywhere

Reply to  lightning
1 year ago

In the spirit of the rules, it’s a dolphin kick and her stroke wouldn’t be the same without it. Not saying she wouldn’t be elite or that she wouldn’t win this final, I’m saying it’s an illegal movement.

That said, check out the coaching forums on Facebook. Today, there is a lively discussion about this illegal kick with many coaches saying it’s a movement that both she and her coach are aware of.

From the middle of the pool, however, a sideline judge can’t see to call. Interesting in the video that she even pulls down air on of the kicks which is an obvious dolphin kick. C’est la vie.

1 year ago

I’m definitely more into the swimming, but the NCAA has decided to keep swimming and diving as one sport and the divers work very hard too and we should respect them.

Reply to  Swammer222
1 year ago

None? If they held a balance beam competition in the painful 20 minute break between races, I wouldn’t hate it.

1 year ago

Stanford has gotten 8th in all the relays so far and barely at that…they tied for 8th in the 200 free and in the medley they had all the teams in the heat after them gain time…and then Cal dq’d the heat after. Lucking out

Reply to  Ervin
1 year ago

We noticed you haven’t placed higher than 8th at NCAAs very much either.

Reply to  Ervin
1 year ago

At least they didn’t bagel the 800FR

Beth Mahoney
1 year ago

I thought Virginia was supposed to win every event wtf I want my money back crackstream dot com!

1 year ago

Petition to have a tornado before every session, that was FAST

1 year ago


Should be another good day tomorrow, if not even better.

Last edited 1 year ago by PsychoDad

About Karl Ortegon

Karl Ortegon

Karl Ortegon studied sociology at Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT, graduating in May of 2018. He began swimming on a club team in first grade and swam four years for Wesleyan.

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