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

2021 NCAA WOMEN’S SWIMMING & DIVING CHAMPIONSHIPS

Virginia looked great last night, taking a commanding victory in the 800 free relay, the program’s first NCAA relay title ever. This morning, they could clinch top spots in all three individual events for finals: Paige Madden in the 500 free, Alex Walsh in the 200 IM and Kate Douglass in the 50 free.

Stanford’s Brooke Forde looks to be the main challenger for Madden in the 500 and Michigan’s Maggie MacNeil a major threat in the 50 to Douglass, while Walsh is the top seed in the 200 IM by over a full second.

With three events running this morning, it’s time to start paying close attention to ups/downs, as the team race will pan out during tonight’s finals session, which consists of two relays in addition to the below three individual events.

500 FREE PRELIMS

  • 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 8

  1. Paige Madden (Virginia) – 4:35.07
  2. Brooke Forde (Stanford) – 4:37.49
  3. Evie Pfeifer (Texas) – 4:38.18
  4. Sierra Schmidt (Michigan) – 4:40.00
  5. Kate Moore (NC State) – 4:40.13
  6. Ayla Spitz (Cal) – 4:40.15
  7. Sally Tafuto (Ohio State) – 4:40.70
  8. Courtney Harnish (Georgia) – 4:40.72

This was an incredibly pedestrian prelim, with swimmers making it into the A-final without breaking 4:40. In 2019, it took a 4:39.1 to make the B-final.

Virginia’s Paige Madden cruised ahead of the field in the final heat, hitting the top time of the morning by a longshot with a 4:35.07. She finished ahead of Stanford’s Brooke Forde, who will take the #2 time going into the A-final tonight. Cal sophomore Ayla Spitz was third in the heat at 4:40.15 to sneak into the A-final.

Texas’s Evie Pfeifer made it happen in heat five of seven, the first woman to break 4:40 today with a 4:38.18 ahead of Kate Moore (NC State), who was 4:40.13.

In heat six, Courtney Harnish of Georgia and Kristen Stege of Tennessee battled it out, with Ohio State’s Sally Tafuto and Virginia Tech’s Reka Gyorgy right behind. Tafuto pulled out the win, though, upsetting the field with a 4:40.70, as Harnish was second in 4:40.72 and Stege third in 4:41.40.

Out of heat one, Michigan senior Sierra Schmidt dropped seven seconds from seed to win in 4:40.00. That’s still almost three seconds off of her lifetime best from 2020 Big Tens, but it’s a sign the Michigan women might be sharper after they had an untimely COVID-related training pause a few weeks before Big Tens. In 2019, she was 16th in prelims with a 4:39.1, and she’s now going to get an A-final swim.

Schmidt was the 56th seed out of 56 swimmers in the 500 free.

200 IM PRELIMS

Top 8

  1. Alex Walsh (Virginia) – 1:54.62
  2. Alicia Wilson (Cal) – 1:54.97
  3. Ella Nelson (Virginia) – 1:55.00
  4. Zoie Hartman (Georgia) – 1:55.03
  5. Kelly Pash (Texas) – 1:55.55
  6. Phoebe Bacon (Wisconsin) – 1:55.58
  7. Julia Poole (NC State) – 1:55.70
  8. Kristen Romano (Ohio State) – 1:56.12

The last heat went to Virginia’s Alex Walsh, who posted a 1:54.62 to easily take it, the only swimmers in the final heat under 1:56. OSU’s Kristen Romano was 1:56.12 in that heat to get into the A-final at eighth.

Cal’s Alicia Wilson won heat eight in 1:54.97, just ahead of Texas’s Kelly Pash at 1:55.55 and Wisconsin’s Phoebe Bacon at 1:55.58.

In heat seven, Georgia’s Zoie Hartman and Virginia’s Ella Nelson battled to the wall, as Nelson took the win at the wall. She clocked a 1:55.00 ahead of Hartman’s 1:55.03. Louisville’s Abby Hay touched third in 1:56.53 after leading at the mid-point.

In heat five, Ioanna Sacha had an upset win, the Houston standout clocking a 1:56.79 for her first time under 1:57. Another big early heat swim came out of heat two, as Akron standout Sarah Watson crushed a 1:56.85. That’s her first time under 1:57. Those two mid-major stars led the prelims until heat six, and they both got into the B-final, two of just four women in the top 16 to drop from seed.

50 FREE PRELIMS

  • 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 8

  1. Kate Douglass (Virginia) – 21.21
  2. Kylee Alons (NC State) – 21.50
  3. Maggie MacNeil (Michigan) – 21.58
  4. Sarah Thompson (Mizzou) – 21.61
  5. Kalia Antoniou (Alabama) – 21.73
  6. Grace Countie (UNC) – 21.92
  7. Katharine Berkoff (NC State) – 21.98
  8. Maddie Smith (Northwestern) – 22.03

The final heat was all Kate Douglass, the Virginia sophomore dominating with a 21.21. With all the heats completed, she’s the top seed by almost three-tenths for tonight’s final. Her time this morning is a best by two-tenths, and she takes down Simone Manuel’s pool record in the process.

Kylee Alons of NC State swam big in heat seven, going 21.50 to take down Michigan’s Maggie MacNeil (21.58).

In heat six, Mizzou’s Sarah Thompson dominated, going 21.61 for the first sub-22 of the morning, with NC State’s Katharine Berkoff also going under 22 for second (21.98).

Kalia Antoniou of Alabama, Grace Countie of UNC and Katharine Berkoff of NC State were all under 22 seconds, too, as Countie broke 22 for the first time this season. UNC had a bunch of positive COVID-19 tests which significantly cut down their roster for ACCs, but Countie was one of their ACC swimmers nonetheless.

Meanwhile, at her first NCAAs as an individual swimmer, Northwestern’s Maddie Smith makes the A-final with a 22.03.

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Steve Nolan
1 month ago

Oh this is a forgotten feeling.

Coach Mike 1952
Reply to  Steve Nolan
1 month ago

But fortunately not long forgotten, thank goodness. The memories kick back in quickly.

Hswimmer
1 month ago

GO HOOS

Coach Rob
1 month ago

I needed this in my life!

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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