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

In This Story

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Coach Rob
1 month ago

This has been a long meet, I’m sure these ladies have homework assignments piling up. At my club, we never participate in meets longer than 2 days. Not convinced this is a good strategy? Then ask me how my team has a 3.69 GPA average. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

Reply to  Coach Rob
1 month ago

I’m sorry what

Reply to  Coach Rob
1 month ago

Bro stop trolling lol

Reply to  FLSwimmer
1 month ago

Seriously, is there a report button we can use?

Reply to  Yup
1 month ago

Or maybe comment folding so we can just minimize these?

Reply to  Coach Rob
1 month ago

In 2018 CSCAA listed 176 Division 1 women’s swim teams with an average GPA of 3.45. I do not think long meets are the problem you imagine them to be. My old school was listed with a GPA of 3.80.

Loyola Lion
Reply to  Coach Rob
1 month ago

I maintained a 3.3-3.9 from 8th grade through college and swimming was my life. My major was accounting…

cynthia curran
Reply to  Loyola Lion
1 month ago

Some swimmers were not great students as kids. I remember hat Amanda Beard had mild dyslexia and another swimmer that medaled in 1992 as a breastsroker the Olympics also had dyslexia. even though he went to Harvard I believe. The most famous swimmer Michael Phelps had ADHD and reading the article about Michael I wondered if he had a mild form of Asperger’s since he could not look people in the eye. That has not been proven that he had any Asperger’s, but certainly he does have ADHD. This can also messed your early schooling,ADHD since you pay less attention to things or are sometimes obeseed with a certain subject or activity In Michael’s case swimming.https://www.understood.org/en/learning-thinking-differences/personal-stories/famous-people/celebrity-spotlight-how-michael-phelps-adhd-helped-him-make-olympic-history

Reply to  cynthia curran
1 month ago

Actually, not being able to look people in the eye is pretty common among ADHDers, myself included! 🙂

Loyola Lion
Reply to  cynthia curran
1 month ago

I too have mild dyslexia…does that make you feel better about my comment? Am I now disabled enough for my GPA to support why I shouldn’t have been at meets more than 2 days long in order to get my homework done? Please. Sit down.

Reply to  Coach Rob
1 month ago

We did 5 day meets consistently. Team GPA 3.75. You must not be doing YOUR job.

Reply to  Coach Rob
1 month ago

I’m with Coach Rob but for other reasons. As a coach after a few days these meets start to get tiring. Who cares about the kids I need to get my naps in.

We can at least cancel distance swimming so I can have some me time in the middle of the day.

Reply to  Coach Rob
1 month ago

I can’t wait for your men’s NCAA comments

Steve Nolan
Reply to  Math
1 month ago

Same. These have been gold.

Reply to  Coach Rob
1 month ago

Guys, he’s quite obviously a troll, 3.69? Cmon he had to find a way to sneak the devil’s number in there

Steve Nolan
Reply to  PVSFree
1 month ago

Hoping he can sock it to me one more time

Captain Ahab
Reply to  Coach Rob
1 month ago

Your team has a 3.69 gpa because of blackboard, zoom, and online classes. It makes college easy.

Reply to  Coach Rob
1 month ago

what you have just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it.

Loyola Lion
Reply to  I_Said_It
1 month ago

A simple no would have sufficed.

Reply to  I_Said_It
1 month ago

may god have mercy on your soul

Troll Longhorn
Reply to  Coach Rob
1 month ago

Hahaha, a masterful troll and you have my respect.

1 month ago

I flippantly said in the comments of one of the preview articles that I’d “eat my goggles” if Kate Douglass wasn’t on a winning relay at NCAAs this year, and now I’m getting a little nervous…

Last edited 1 month ago by Willswim
Reply to  Willswim
1 month ago

I’d probably go with sous vide, if I had to choose how to eat goggles.

Reply to  Willswim
1 month ago

I say grind them up very finely, and blend them into a smoothie.

Reply to  Willswim
1 month ago

I’d make an edible pair of googles like cake or chocolate ones. There’s no restriction on what the goggles are made of! Good luck 😆

Reply to  Kelsey
1 month ago

HOWEVER they do have to be transparent and “keep stuff away from your eyes.” So that adds some layer of challenge.

Reply to  Braden Keith
1 month ago

True but where there’s a will there’s a way (no pun actually intended).

Reply to  Kelsey
1 month ago

I can’t see a pun…

Reply to  Swimmer
1 month ago

The original guys name is willswim

Reply to  Braden Keith
30 days ago

I was thinking melting clear candies or something into a goggle shaped mold (obtain or make one in some way)? Don’t know if that could stay on your face properly…

Reply to  Kelsey
1 month ago

everything is cake

Reply to  Willswim
1 month ago

If they are speedo fastskin they will go down smoother!

Reply to  Willswim
1 month ago

Guess it’s goggle eating time.

Reply to  Willswim
1 month ago

Well. This is gonna be fun.

Please submit video evidence to share.com. Thanks!

Reply to  Braden Keith
1 month ago

Braden have I ever told you how much I love you

Reply to  Braden Keith
1 month ago

Ahhhhhhh why am I so bad at life?!?! I was wrong, so I’ll be a man of my word and figure out a way to do this. I’m actually more mad about having to replace the goggles lol. It might take me a bit to get you the video but I don’t want my bad karma to affect Kate in Omaha (she’s a star and I’m an idiot) so I’ll do my best to pay my debt to hubris before then.

Thanks to all the swimmers and coaches for a great season. Your hard work has been a fun distraction during a difficult year.

Reply to  Willswim
1 month ago

Better start figuring out how you’re gonna eat those goggles!

Reply to  Willswim
1 month ago

Who ordered the googles medium rare with a side of fava beans and nice Chianti?

Reply to  Willswim
1 month ago

are you mentally prepared? I want a video

Reply to  Willswim
1 month ago

Dude. That’s going to hurt come backside.

Honest Observer
1 month ago

The great thing about this NCAAs is that there have been so many good dogfights. Away from the MacNeil/Douglass duels, there haven’t been any individual records threatened, so maybe it’s not quite as exciting from that standpoint. But there have been a lot of races whose outcomes were up for grabs, and that makes for suspense of a different sort. (When Ledecky was swimming, it wasn’t as if anyone was on the edge of their seat wondering who’d win the 500.)

Today is a case in point. The spread from 1st to 8th this morning among the 200 fly finalists was 0.71 seconds. The top four qualifiers in the 200 back are separated by 0.15. And the eight A finalists in the… Read more »

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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