2021 NCAA Women’s Championships: Day 3 Prelims Live Recap


After last night’s fireworks, Virginia claimed all three individual events in the pool, while the relays saw two big upsets.

Cal looked fiery on the 200 free relay, making their presence known, but they were then DQ’d on the 400 medley relay for a tough close to the night. Meanwhile, NC State claimed the team’s first-ever NCAA relay title with an NCAA and U.S. Open record in the 400 medley relay, the second time Virginia was upset at the wall on a relay.

Michigan’s Maggie MacNeil became the second woman to break 50 seconds in the 100 fly and 100 back with her 49.76 400 medley relay lead-off last night, while Kylee Alons split a 49.29 on the NC State fly leg and Sophie Hansson was 57.01 on the Wolfpack breast leg. Watch for them to swim those events in individuals (though MacNeil will be doing the 100 fly only today).


  • NCAA Record: Ella Eastin (Stanford), 3:54.60 – 2018
  • American Record: Ella Eastin (Stanford), 3:54.60 – 2018
  • U.S. Open Record: Ella Eastin (Stanford), 3:54.60 – 2018
  • Meet Record: Ella Eastin (Stanford), 3:54.60 – 2018
  • 2019 Champion: Ella Eastin (Stanford), 3:57.03
  • 2020 Top Performer: Brooke Forde (Stanford) – 4:01.53

Top 8 

  1. Ella Nelson (Virginia) – 4:04.47
  2. Lauren Poole (Kentucky) – 4:04.54
  3. Brooke Forde (Stanford) – 4:04.92
  4. Josie Grote (Indiana) – 4:05.33
  5. Katie Trace (Ohio State) – 4:06.20
  6. Evie Pfeifer (Texas) – 4:06.29
  7. Reka Gyorgy (Virginia Tech) – 4:06.77
  8. Kathryn Ackerman (Michigan) – 4:07.35

Brooke Forde of Stanford dominated the final heat, building through the breaststroke and cruising through the free leg. She posted a 4:04.92, not looking to have pushed too hard, and will sit third in tonight’s final. Katie Trace of Ohio State swam a huge race for second in the heat, going 4:06.20 for a spot in the A-final and dropping almost two seconds.

In heat five, Ella Nelson of Virginia swam to a lead on the breast leg, able to take over as the prelims leader with a 4:04.47, about 1.8 seconds off of her season best. Indiana senior Josie Grote had a great swim, dropping 2.6 from seed to take second in the heat (4:05.33) ahead of Texas senior Evie Pfeifer (4:06.29).

There were no sub-4:10 swims until heat four of six, where there were several. Kentucky’s Lauren Poole surged into the lead on the backstroke leg, building up her lead even more on breast. Poole absolutely ran away with it, going just her third sub-4:10 swim ever at 4:04.54, just a half-second off of her lifetime best.

In heat four, Michigan freshman Kathryn Ackerman fought back with a strong free leg to take second in the heat at 4:07.35 ahead of Kentucky’s Bailey Bonnett (4:08.26). Ackerman squeezes into the A-final at eighth, the only freshman in the A-final tonight.

The Wildcats were big in the 400 IM today, with one A-finalist and three B-finalists tonight in this event.


  • NCAA Record: Louise Hansson (USC)/Maggie MacNeil (Michigan), 49.26 — 2019
  • American Record: Erika Brown (Tennessee), 49.38 — 2020
  • US Open Record: Louise Hansson (USC)/Maggie MacNeil (Michigan), 49.26 — 2019
  • Meet Record: Louise Hansson (USC), 49.26 — 2019
  • 2019 Champion: Louise Hansson (USC), 49.26
  • 2020 Top Performer: Maggie MacNeil (Michigan), 49.26

Top 8

  1. Kate Douglass (Virginia) – 49.94
  2. Maggie MacNeil (Michigan) – 50.23
  3. Isabel Ivey (Cal)/Rhyan White (Alabama) – 50.75 *TIE*
  4. Kylee Alons (NC State) – 50.86
  5. Olivia Carter (Michigan) – 51.29
  6. Olivia Bray (Texas) – 51.44
  7. Lexi Cuomo (Virginia) – 51.49

Virginia’s Lexi Cuomo was out in 23.66 to lead the final heat at the 50 mark, but Michigan’s Maggie MacNeil went hard on the back-half, going 50.23 for the heat win ahead of Alabama’s Rhyan White (50.75). Cuomo faded to 51.49, but she still gets into the A-final at eighth.

In heat six, Kate Douglass of Virginia clocked a 49.94 for the win, getting ahead of NC State’s Kylee Alons (50.86) and Michigan’s Olivia Carter (51.29).

Virginia and Michigan had big swims here, with both teams getting two swimmers into the A-final. The ‘Hoo’s also got two swimmers into the B-final with Abby Harter in tenth at 51.82 and Jessica Nava in 16th at 52.13.

Cal’s Isabel Ivey looked lethal in heat five, dropping a 50.75 for the first sub-51 of the morning. She’d end up tied with White for third.

Notre Dame’s Coleen Gillilan (51.60) and Northwestern’s Miriam Guevara (51.90) were 1-2 in heat four, the first two women under 52 seconds. They both made the B-final.


  • NCAA Record: Missy Franklin (Cal), 2015 – 1:39.10
  • American Record: Missy Franklin (Cal), 2015 – 1:39.10
  • U.S. Open Record: Missy Franklin (Cal), 2015 – 1:39.10
  • Meet Record: Missy Franklin (Cal), 2015 – 1:39.10
  • 2019 Champion: Mallory Comerford (Louisville), 1:40.26
  • 2020 Top Performer: Erika Brown (Tennessee), 1:41.66

Top 8

  1. Paige Madden (Virginia) – 1:43.03
  2. Talia Bates (Florida) – 1:43.28
  3. Kelly Pash (Texas) – 1:43.45
  4. Alex Walsh (Virginia) – 1:43.61
  5. Robin Neumann (Cal) – 1:43.73
  6. Riley Gaines (Kentucky) – 1:44.06
  7. Chloe Stepanek (Texas A&M) – 1:44.23
  8. Courtney Harnish (Georgia) – 1:44.32

Virginia’s Paige Madden looked powerful in the final heat, going 1:43.03 for the top time of the morning. Florida sophomore Talia Bates was impressive, though, making it a race and touching second at 1:43.28 for the two-seed tonight in the A-final.

In heat five, Cal’s Robin Neumann shot out to the early lead, and Kentucky’s Riley Gaines charged over the back-half. Neumann held strong, though, going 1:43.73 to beat her 800 free relay lead-off ahead of Gaines (1:44.06).

Kelly Pash of Texas got it done in heat four, turning in a 1:43.45 ahead of Texas A&M freshman Chloe Stepanek (1:44.23). Pash will sit #3 in tonight’s A-final.

Seeded with a dual meet time, Virginia freshman Alex Walsh erupted for a 1:43.61 to claim heat three of six. While she’s split 1:43-low before, this was her first time under 1:45 from a flat start.


  • NCAA Record: Lilly King (Indiana), 55.73 — 2019
  • American Record: Lilly King (Indiana), 55.73 — 2019
  • US Open Record: Lilly King (Indiana), 55.73 — 2019
  • Meet Record: Lilly King (Indiana), 55.73 — 2019
  • 2019 Champion: Lilly King (Indiana), 55.73
  • 2020 Top Performer: Sophie Hansson (NC State), 57.74

Top 8

  1. Sophie Hansson (NC State) – 57.67
  2. Mona McSharry (Tennessee) – 58.16
  3. Hannah Bach (Ohio State) – 58.21
  4. Kaitlyn Dobler (USC) – 58.22
  5. Alexis Wenger (Virginia) – 58.33
  6. Zoie Hartman (Georgia) – 58.49
  7. Andrea Podmanikova (NC State)/Sophie Angus (Northwestern) – 58.59 *TIE*

In the last heat, Kaitlyn Dobler of USC topped the field with a 58.22, good for fourth in tonight’s A-final. Georgia’s Zoie Hartman was 58.49, gaining a second from her SEC time, while Andrea Podmanikova of NC State tied with Northwestern’s Sophie Angus at 58.59 for the final spot int the A-final.

Angus and her sophomore teammate Hannah Brunzell (58.63) both hit lifetime bests and were both under Angus’s old school record of 58.89. Brunzell was just off of the A-final, finishing ninth in prelims.

Three big swims came in heat five, led by NC State’s Sophie Hansson at 57.67. Mona McSharry of Tennessee was second in 58.16, ahead of OSU’s Hannah Bach (58.21). That’s a new best for Bach, shaving .08 off of her old one.

Virginia’s Alexis Wenger looked solid in heat four, clocking a 58.33 for the first sub-59 of the morning. Anna Elendt of Texas was also under 59 (58.88), as was Cal’s Ema Rajic (58.96).

In heat one, late scratch call-up Donna Depolo of Nevada had a great swim, clocking a 59.69 for her first-ever sub-1:00 swim. Depolo wasn’t invited to the meet on the first psychs but was later invited due to scratches, making the most of her opportunity here.


  • NCAA Record: Beata Nelson (Wisconsin), 2019 – 49.18
  • American Record: Regan Smith, 2021 – 49.16
  • U.S. Open Record: Regan Smith, 2021 – 49.16
  • Meet Record: Beata Nelson (Wisconsin), 2019 – 49.18
  • 2019 Champion: Beata Nelson (Wisconsin) – 49.18
  • 2020 Top Performer: Beata Nelson (Wisconsin), 49.70

Top 8

  1. Katharine Berkoff (NC State)/Rhyan White (Alabama) – 50.16
  2. Phoebe Bacon (Wisconsin) – 50.58
  3. Isabel Ivey (Cal) – 51.09
  4. Isabelle Stadden (Cal) – 51.18
  5. Julia Cook (Texas) – 51.19
  6. Grace Countie (UNC) – 51.42
  7. Caroline Gmelich (Virginia) – 51.43

In the final heat, Rhyan White of Alabama tied Berkoff’s time with another 50.16. White has hit a bunch of 50-lows, as has Berkoff, so tonight we could see them both under 50 seconds.

Katharine Berkoff of NC State swam a 50.16 to win heat seven, just off of her personal best. Second in the heat went to Wisconsin freshman Phoebe Bacon at 50.58.

Cal’s Isabel Ivey nearly got under 51 seconds, going 51.09 for fourth overall.

Cal’s Isabelle Stadden clocked a 51.18 to come-from-behind in heat six, edging out Texas’s Julia Cook (51.19).

UNC had a couple of great swims, with Grace Countie in the A-final at 51.42 ahead of Virginia’s Caroline Gmelich (51.43), while Countie’s teammate Sophie Lindner will lead the B-final with her 51.56.

Gmelich getting into the A-final is big, though their 50.4 medley lead-off, freshman Reilly Tiltmann, was off at 52.08. Tiltmann still got a spot in the B-final, though.

Duke sophomore Emma Shuppert had a breakout swim in heat five, going 51.89 to beat her old best of 52.34.

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Sun Yangs Hammer
26 days ago

Are we yelling about clouds again today? Will Sun Yang clinch the 2021 Womens NCAA title? Can Dressel ever unlock the stall door and will Rowdy remember where he is? Find out on the next episode of DragonBall Z

Reply to  Sun Yangs Hammer
26 days ago

Without Rowdy who is the punching bag then?

Reply to  Sun Yangs Hammer
26 days ago

This day is awesome. Will go from prelims streaming right into basketball at 12 noon EST and then both swimming and basketball at the same time this evening. This is the March I love and missed.

Reply to  200 SIDESTROKE B CUT
26 days ago

When we used to be able to go to the NCAA Championships, all of the SIDs sent there to cover swimming would be sitting in press row watching basketball the whole time. They’d spend the whole meet talking about basketball. Then they’d try to pick fights with us claiming that they called “seat check” on spots with the swim meet.

There are a few really good SIDs around who obviously care about the swimming & diving programs. But, it’s not a surprise that it’s so hard to get responses from so many of them – very few got into that business with the dream of fielding interview requests and answering questions about the swimming & diving program.

Reply to  Braden Keith
26 days ago

Excuse my ignorance, but what’s an SID?

James Beam
Reply to  bobthebuilderrocks
26 days ago

not a sexually transmitted disease but sports information director!

Huddie Murray
Reply to  bobthebuilderrocks
26 days ago

Sports information director, I believe.

Sun Yangs Hammer
Reply to  bobthebuilderrocks
26 days ago

Sports information director. Braden knows more but iirc they work for the Uni and provide PR, Media stats stuff

Reply to  Sun Yangs Hammer
26 days ago

Yes, sorry. “Media coordinators,” “Media relations,” etc.

Reply to  bobthebuilderrocks
26 days ago

My internet search indicates that SID is sports information director.

Steve Nolan
Reply to  TAK
25 days ago

Mine told me it was shaken baby syndrome.

tea rex
Reply to  Steve Nolan
25 days ago

I was always disappointed by those infants’ knowledge of swimming.

flex tape cant fix that
Reply to  bobthebuilderrocks
25 days ago

I looked it up and it is Sid the Science Kid

Reply to  Braden Keith
25 days ago

Dude, I really hated them when they stole your seat. But, in all fairness, I’d pull up the NCAA tourney during diving prelims every time.

26 days ago

Funny when you look starting list, how much difference there is on seniors on different disciplines, 400 IM top 25 has so many seniors but 100 fly not….

Last edited 26 days ago by samulih
Honest Observer
26 days ago

Geek time: One of the more interesting comparisons in swimming has always been the men’s SCM WRs vs. the women’s US Open yards records. They’re consistently close, with the men having a little bit more of an edge in the shorter events than the longer. The men’s records are listed first:

50 free      20.16 vs. 20.90
100 free    44.94 vs. 45.56
200 free    1:39.37 vs. 1:39.10

100 back   48.58 vs. 49.16
200 back    1:45.63 vs. 1:47.16

100 breast    55.34 vs. 55.73
200 breast    2:00.16 vs. 2:02.60

100 fly    47.78 vs. 49.26
200 fly    1:48.24 vs. 1:49.51

200 IM    1:49.63 vs. 1:50.67
400 IM    3:54.81 vs. 3:54.60

All records are of course, by definition, incredible. But looking at these comparisons gives a little sense of which… Read more »

Right Dude Here
Reply to  Honest Observer
26 days ago

Quality analysis. thank you.

Monday Morning Grind
Reply to  Honest Observer
25 days ago

Mitch Larkin’s 1:45. Holy Cow

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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