2021 NCAA Women’s Championships: Day 4 Finals Live Recap


The Virginia Cavaliers are on the brink of their first-ever NCAA title, getting six swimmers into A-finals tonight (not including a possible title for Paige Madden in the mile). This would also be the first win for an ACC school in NCAA history.

Meanwhile, NC State looks like they could clinch the second-place trophy, which would also make history. In addition to having no NCAA titles, the ACC has also never had a team finish as high as second, either. Further, if NC State does clinch second, it’ll be the first time since 2010 that Georgia, Cal and Stanford have all finished lower than second.

But the Wolfpack faces Texas, whose women are having the best NCAA showing in recent memory. They haven’t been quite as on-fire as NC State, but they have 500 free runner-up Evie Pfeifer in the mile, while the Wolfpack have Yara Hierath seeded 16th. Further, Texas’s diving group finished 6-9-10 in the platform prelims, with one diver slated for the final appearance tonight.

All told, aside from diving and the mile, NC State is 5/1 for A/B finals tonight, while Texas is at 3/2, so the Longhorns will have to lean heavily into their diving/mile athletes.

Round three of Kate Douglass v. Maggie MacNeil will run tonight in the 100 free, too, as Douglass was much better this morning (46.54 to 47.34). But, of course, we know what MacNeil is capable of after she became the first woman under 49 in the 100 fly last night.



  • NCAA Record: Katie Ledecky (Stanford), 15:03.31 – 2017
  • American Record: Katie Ledecky (Stanford), 15:03.31 – 2017
  • U.S. Open Record: Katie Ledecky (Stanford), 15:03.31 – 2017
  • Meet Record: Katie Ledecky (Stanford), 15:07.57 – 2018
  • 2019 Champion: Ally McHugh (Penn State), 15:39.22
  • 2020 Top Performer: Molly Kowal (Ohio State), 15:43.17

Top 8 (final)

  1. Paige Madden (Virginia) – 15:41.86
  2. Evie Pfeifer (Texas) – 15:46.41
  3. Sierra Schmidt (Michigan) – 15:51.09
  4. Kristen Stege (Tennessee) – 15:52.07
  5. Kaitlynn Sims (Michigan) – 15:57.80
  6. Kensey McMahon (Alabama) – 16:00.62
  7. Camryn Toney (Texas A&M) – 16:04.02
  8. Lola Mull (Northwestern) – 16:04.11

Virginia’s Paige Madden let the field jump out over the first 500, but by the 1000 mark, the senior had moved into the lead. Madden kept pouring it on, though, and she made it home in 15:41.86, dropping over three seconds from her seed.

That’s Madden’s third win of the meet, and she looks favored to win swimmer of the meet, the only swimmer to claim three victories.

In big points for Texas on their hunt for second, Evie Pfeifer went 15:46.41 for second, while Michigan’s Sierra Schmidt claimed third at 15:51.09, an all-senior podium.

Early leader Kristen Stege of Tennessee held on for fourth at 15:52.07, while Michigan had another top-eight finisher with Kaitlynn Sims at 15:57.80. In sixth was Alabama’s Kensey McMahon of Alabama, while two swimmers from early heats made it into the top-eight.

In the first four heats, Texas A&M’s Camryn Toney dropped two seconds from seed in heat four, going 16:04.02 to challenge for a top-eight finish with only the finals heat to go. Northwestern freshman Lola Mull dropped four seconds off of her old best to finish first in heat three at 16:04.11, while Ohio State’s Sally Tafuto and Maya Geringer both dropped from seed, too.


  • NCAA Record: Beata Nelson (Wisconsin), 1:47.24 – 2019
  • American Record: Regan Smith, 1:47.16 – 2019
  • U.S. Open Record: Regan Smith, 1:47.16 – 2019
  • Meet Record: Beata Nelson (Wisconsin), 1:47.24 – 2019
  • 2019 Champion: Beata Nelson (Wisconsin), 1:47.24
  • 2020 Top Performer: Rhyan White (Alabama), 1:48.06

Top 3

  1. Phoebe Bacon (Wisconsin) – 1:48.32
  2. Rhyan White (Alabama) – 1:48.99
  3. Isabelle Stadden (Cal) – 1:49.66

This was a fantastic race, as Katharine Berkoff of NC State, Rhyan White of Alabama and Phoebe Bacon of Wisconsin all took it out within tenths of each other.

Pushing into the third 50, though, Bacon really charged, and she was able to hold onto that pace through the exciting final 50. Bacon hits her first sub-1:50 ever, becoming the third-best NCAA freshman ever at 1:48.32. That keeps the Wisconsin 200 back streak alive after Beata Nelson won in 2019.

White was also under 1:49, hitting a 1:48.99, not quite able to come back on Bacon but picking up big points for Alabama before their huge 100 free.

Cal freshman Isabelle Stadden was third in 1:49.66, while youth continued to reign; Virginia Tech freshman Emma Atkinson was fourth in 1:50.43 ahead of Virginia freshman Reilly Tiltmann (1:50.66).

In the B-final, Kate Moore of NC State edged out Texas’s Julia Cook, 1:51.61 to 1:51.81 as both swimmers move up from seed to help their teams’ race for second.


  • NCAA Record: Simone Manuel (Stanford), 45.56 – 2017
  • American Record: Simone Manuel (Stanford), 45.56 – 2017
  • U.S. Open Record: Simone Manuel (Stanford), 45.56 – 2017
  • Meet Record: Simone Manuel (Stanford), 45.56 – 2017
  • 2019 Champion: Mallory Comerford (Louisville), 46.24
  • 2020 Top Performer: Erika Brown (Tennessee), 45.83

Top 3

  1. Maggie MacNeil (Michigan) – 46.02
  2. Kate Douglass (Virginia) – 46.30
  3. Isabel Ivey (Cal) – 46.95

The final individual showdown between Kate Douglass of Virginia and Maggie MacNeil of Michigan did not disappoint.

Douglass was out faster, both out in 22-low, but MacNeil was relentless on her underwaters over the back-half, hitting a lifetime best 46.02 to tie for the fourth-fastest time in history. Douglass, at 46.30, again set a new personal best, not quite able to withstand MacNeil’s back-half.

In third, Cal’s Isabel Ivey dropped a 46.95 to claim bronze for the Golden Bears. Meanwhile, Alabama touched 4-5-7, led by junior Morgan Scott at 47.48.

In the B-final, UNC’s Grace Countie broke 48 for the first time to win at 47.84.


  • NCAA Record: Lilly King (Indiana), 2:02.60 – 2018
  • American Record: Lilly King (Indiana), 2:02.60 – 2018
  • US Open Record: Lilly King (Indiana), 2:02.60 – 2018
  • Meet Record: Lilly King (Indiana), 2:02.60 – 2018
  • 2019 Champion: Lilly King (Indiana), 2:02.90
  • 2020 Top Performer: Sophie Hansson (NC State) – 2:05.59

Top 3

  1. Sophie Hansson (NC State) – 2:03.86
  2. Ella Nelson (Virginia) – 2:04.35
  3. Mona McSharry (Tennessee) – 2:05.01

Sophie Hansson of NC State blazed out to the lead at 59.44, but five swimmers broke a minute on the first 100.

Hansson held strong, though, pushing her lead and pulling out the win at 2:03.86, her best time by a second to move into the top 10 all-time. Ella Nelson of UVA dropped under 2:05 for the first time for second, going 2:04.35, while Tennessee freshman Mona McSharry broke her new school record by over a second with a huge 2:05.01 for bronze.

NC State’s Andrea Podmanikova vaulted from seventh to fourth, claiming fourth at 2:05.51 out of lane one.

The B-final went to Anna Elendt of Texas, a huge swim for the freshman at 2:06.10. These are key points for the Longhorns. In second was Northwestern’s Hannah Brunzell at 2:06.60, obliterating the 2:08 barrier for the first time.


  • NCAA Record: Ella Eastin (Stanford), 2018, 1:49.51
  • American Record: Ella Eastin (Stanford), 2018, 1:49.51
  • U.S. Open Record: Ella Eastin (Stanford), 2018, 1:49.51
  • Meet Record: Ella Eastin (Stanford), 2018, 1:50.01
  • 2019 Champion: Louise Hansson (USC), 1:50.28
  • 2020 Top Performer: Louise Hansson (USC), 1:51.26

Top 3

  1. Olivia Carter (Michigan) – 1:51.33
  2. Olivia Bray (Texas) – 1:52.87
  3. Dakota Luther (Georgia) – 1:53.01

Texas was out 1-2-3 in the first 50, gunning for top finishes in the overarching team race.

But Olivia Carter of Michigan, tactical as she is, blew away the field on the back-half. Carter was 28.3 for a huge third 50 then came home in 29.3, getting to the wall at 1:51.33 to win by over a full second.

For Carter, it’s a home win– the Greensboro native, after transferring from Georgia to Michigan, wins it and wins big.

For Texas, Olivia Bray did her job, dropping a second from prelims to take silver at 1:52.87 ahead of Georgia’s Dakota Luther (1:53.01). Texas was also fourth and seventh, as Kelly Pash was just off of the podium at 1:53.42 in a tie with Texas A&M’s Taylor Pike, while Emma Sticklen finished seventh at 1:54.09.

In sixth, Virginia freshman Abby Harter dropped .04 to hit a 1:53.86.

Rachel Klinker of Cal crushed the B-final, clocking a 1:53.19, a time that would’ve tied for first in prelims.


  • Meet Record: Haley Ishimatsu (USC), 396.75 – 2013
  • 2019 Champion: Murphy Bromberg (Texas), 391.60

Top 3

  1. Tarrin Gilliland (Indiana) – 338.40
  2. Delaney Schnell (Arizona) – 331.80
  3. Maycey Vieta (Purdue) – 316.80

Coming back from injury a year ago, Indiana freshman Tarrin Gilliland clinched the platform title with a score of 338.40.


  • NCAA Record: Cal, 2019, 3:06.96
  • American Record: Stanford, 2017, 3:07.61
  • U.S. Open Record: Cal, 2019, 3:06.96
  • Meet Record: Cal, 2019, 3:06.96
  • 2019 Champion: Cal, 3:06.96
  • 2020 Top Performer: Auburn, 3:09.18

Top 3

  1. Alabama – 3:09.78
  2. Virginia – 3:10.45
  3. Cal – 3:10.64

Kate Douglass goes 46.76 to just beat Maggie MacNeil (46.94) on the lead-off here, but with 47s and a 46.90 anchor from Cora Dupre, Alabama claims the big 400 free relay win here at 3:09.78, breaking the school record and bringing it under 3:10 for the first time ever.

Morgan Scott was 47.78 leading off, followed by Kalia Antoniou (47.16), Flora Molnar (47.94) and Dupre. It’s a huge moment for the Crimson Tide, who have had a tough year with a midseason coaching change to go on top of the pandemic. That’s the only Alabama NCAA title ever besides the 50 breast in 1983, when Angelika Knipping won.

Virginia hung on for second at 3:10.45, just ahead of Cal’s 3:10.64, with Isabel Ivey anchoring in a mighty 46.10 for the Golden Bears.

In heat four, it’s Tennessee with the win at 3:12.66 to pull into second overall. Texas falls to fourth in the heat, and it’s NC State second, Texas third in the team race. This marks history– it’s the first time an ACC team has finished in the top two in the team race at this meet, and Virginia and NC State BOTH do that with their 1-2 team finish.

NC State blows away heat three, going 3:11.25 for the fastest time by over two seconds. Texas up next in heat four, and they’ll need to go a 3:11 or faster to hold on to second. Their seed is a 3:13.3.

Heat two went to Louisville at 3:13.84, just ahead of Stanford’s 3:14.20.

In heat one, Virginia Tech goes 3:14.07 ahead of Indiana’s 3:15.20.


  1. Virginia 491
  2. NC State 354
  3. Texas 344.5
  4. California 290
  5. Alabama 266
  6. Michigan 224.5
  7. Ohio State 215.5
  8. Georgia 181
  9. Stanford 159
  10. Tennessee 153
  11. Kentucky 152
  12. UNC 144
  13. Louisville 108
  14. Texas A&M 107.5
  15. Indiana 102
  16. Northwestern 96
  17. Florida 84.5
  18. Missouri 79
  19. Wisconsin 61
  20. Purdue 56
  21. Virginia Tech 55
  22. USC 51
  23. Miami 42
  24. Minnesota 40
  25. Arizona 34.5
  26. Nebraska 33
  27. Arkansas 26
  28. Georgia Tech 24
  29. Notre Dame 12
  30. LSU/Houston 9
  31. San Diego State/FGCU 6
  32. Duke 5
  33. Wyoming 4
  34. Akron 3
  35. Oakland/Navy 1

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Lauren Suggs
3 years ago

If anyone wants mimosas out of Todd’s ears tomorrow morning, come to Charlottesville! ❤️

3 years ago

Would someone be able to explain where most of Cal/Stanford’s team is? Why are some swimmers there from Stanford and others not?

3 years ago

UVA’s 15 minutes of celebration just got muted by basketball’s upset loss to #13 Ohio U.

… don’t shoot the messenger.

Reply to  200 SIDESTROKE B CUT
3 years ago

we love to see it

Reply to  200 SIDESTROKE B CUT
3 years ago

Is it really an upset if every pundit on TV picked Ohio though?

Reply to  200 SIDESTROKE B CUT
3 years ago

No’ glad I had the swimming to enjoy!

3 years ago

I think somebody has to eat their googles now

Reply to  USA
3 years ago

Todd Desorbo?

3 years ago

Anyone know why Cal’s 2019 400 Free relay isn’t also the American record (on Live Results, anyway). I thought all 4 were American (Ivey, McLaughlin, Bilquist, Weitzeil)?

Reply to  bodybyfood
3 years ago

Wetizel’s elbow was taped, which made it ineligible for American record

3 years ago

NC State snubbing the 800 FR was not such a bad move after all. Congratulations to the Pack!!!

Reply to  Swimmer
3 years ago

Brilliant coaching.

Reply to  Swimmer
3 years ago

Not exactly. They probably lost points on that gamble because they were seeded 4th in the 800 FR and they probably would’ve finished 2, 3, or 4 in that relay with Berkoff and Alons and they got 4th in the 400 FR tonight and they probably would’ve finished lower but still gotten enough points to be top 8 I’d say especially adding Hansson in since she was not in the 400 FR at ACCs and she swam a 47 split tonight. Thus the supposed 4th in the 800 FR + even a lower place in the 400 FR would have netted them *more* total points.

Reply to  lightning
3 years ago

Further clarification on NC State’s “brilliant coaching” (spoiler alert: it wasn’t) …

800 FR – 0 pts (17th)
400 FR – 30 pts (4th)
total – 30 pts

800 FR – 30 pts (4th)
400 FR – 12 pts (11th) … and with Hansson’s faster split they likely would have placed higher
total – 42 pts (or more)

42 > 30

Last edited 3 years ago by lightning
Reply to  lightning
3 years ago

If everything played out like it was supposed to then yes State could have gotten more points swimming the relay however swimming that relay may have hurt them in other races. Look how many marquee teams didn’t swim close to their seed times. I would rather have 2nd with several national titles than 2nd by more points and potentially fewer national titles.

Reply to  Swimmer
3 years ago

It’s not worth arguing but I just don’t understand your logic. Swimming an extra 100 yards of freestyle on a Wednesday night before any individual races are even held until the next day would not tire them out for the rest of the meet. Swimming the 800 free relay and the 400 free relay with a lineup similar to ACCs would not have affected any of their titles. It would not have affected their medley relay titles or their individual titles. The only thing this gamble did was potentially put them at risk of losing the runner up position to Texas. If they had lost to Texas by 11 or 12 points you can damn well guarantee that’s all people… Read more »

Last edited 3 years ago by lightning
Reply to  lightning
3 years ago

It’s not swimming an extra 100 yards it’s an extra 200 yards and at ACCs they swam two relays on Wednesday night The event lineup was not the same. Swimming is as much mental as it is physical so you never know how it would have played out. If they put extra effort and energy into winning the 800 and fall flat then they may have been mentally flat the rest of the meet. I agree that hindsight is 20/20 and it’s always easy to second guess decisions. Fortunately for State it worked out and Braden had to make a decision on what he thought was best knowing his team the way he does.

Joel Lin
3 years ago

Virginia had an A finalist in every single individual event.

Madden graduates, but their recruiting class has 2 certain multiple A finalists & a few more potentials.

Nothing is a given, but this UVa team is a prohibitive favorite to take it next year. And the next year too. This is the beginning of a dynasty.

Reply to  Joel Lin
3 years ago

I would imagine Madden takes advantage of that extra year.

Reply to  Riccardo
3 years ago

I don’t know. I think she could go pro and start making $ with ISL would be the smart move.

Reply to  Hswimmer
3 years ago

ISL format gives advantage to pure sprinters which Madden, as good as she is, is not

Reply to  Tomek
3 years ago

Hali Flickinger made quite a bit of money this year.

Reply to  Hswimmer
3 years ago

If NCAA permits NIL payments’ she might be better off doing one more year and getting a year of grad school paid for plus earn NIL income. Can’t imagine that ISL for distance swimmers other than Ledecky yields that much earnings – ISL is a sprinters league.

Reply to  Wahooswimfan
3 years ago

FWIW – while we haven’t begun the process of answering who’s going to use the 5th year and not (which is going to be terrible), early indications are that far fewer swimmers (especially on the women’s side) are going to take advantage than I think most people might expect.

Reply to  Braden Keith
3 years ago

That rule is trash anyway, especially if it was not offered to last years Seniors who had their championships cancelled

Reply to  Braden Keith
3 years ago

FWIW, uva doesn’t give any athletes an extra semester or 5th year to get degree. You graduate in 4 years or pay ! I doubt they will do the extra year! This is unusual for most programs!

Reply to  Wahooswimfan
3 years ago

She has a good 200 free LC I imagine it would be very well SCM too. She would be used on relays also and 400. I could see her doing well, don’t forget about her 200 back either

Reply to  Joel Lin
3 years ago

I think you are serious underestimating how much Stanford gets back next year.

Reply to  Joel Lin
3 years ago

I’m wondering if that has happened with some of the other teams that have won resoundingly in past years. Would be nice to see a stat on that.

3 years ago

Isabel Ivey putting her entire team on her back

Reply to  swamfan
3 years ago

And terri too

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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