2021 NCAA WOMEN’S SWIMMING & DIVING CHAMPIONSHIPS
- When: Wednesday, March 17 – Saturday, March 20, 2021
- Where: Greensboro Aquatic Center / Greensboro, NC (Eastern Time Zone)
- Prelims 10 AM / Finals 6 PM (Local Time)
- Short course yards (SCY) format
- Defending champion: Stanford (3x) – 2019 results
- Championship Central
- Psych Sheets
- Live Results
Alabama junior Rhyan White is firing on all backstroke cylinders this year as is the frontrunner going into the 100 backstroke at next week’s NCAA Championships. White recently won both the 100 and 200 backstrokes at SEC Championships and also threw down the 2nd fastest 50 backstroke time on record in the 4×50 medley relay (23.35).
White won the 100 back by nearly a second, hitting a 50.36 to Missouri senior Sarah Thompson‘s 51.27 and Caitlin Brooks’s 51.63. While that swim was enough for White to win the final, she was actually faster in the prelims, swimming a 50.20 which would go on to earn her the top seed for NCAAs.
White had quite a breakout performance last year as a sophomore, ending the 2019-2020 season as #2 in the event with a 50.02, behind Beata Nelson’s 49.70. With Nelson out of the way this year, White is on her way to her first-ever national title and as explored in the 200 backstroke preview, sits atop our predicted rankings in both of the backstroke events next week.
Ranked number 2 going into NCAAs in the 100 backstroke is NC State’s Katharine Berkoff with a 50.40 from December. Despite the fact that only 0.20 seconds separate the two, White was quicker at conference, hitting 50.20/50.33/50.36 swims in her three swims at SECs while Berkoff trailed a bit with swims of 50.45/50.53/50.56.
Those performances were both season and lifetime bests, Stadden’s coming from a second place performance at Pac-12s and Bray’s from a prelim swim at Texas vs. TCU back in December. Bray decided not to swim the event at Big 12s last month meaning she hasn’t yet had a chance to contest the event in 2021. After cracking 52 for the first ever in her freshman year, it will take a lot for her to get under 51 next week giving her the time it’ll take to reach the podium.
Another freshman who will be in the mix here is Phoebe Bacon who’s going in with an 8th seeded 51.32 which she swam at Big 10s to win the event. Bacon’s time guaranteed her an invite to the Championships but she was still a bit off her proven potential, trailing her PB of 50.70 by around half a second. Bacon swam that time in her senior year of high school but hasn’t yet matched it.
Bacon has also shown that she can perform under pressure, having won the 100 back title at the 2018 Junior Pan Pacific Championships (59.72). She also contributed to a gold there in the 4×100 medley relay with a 1:00.49. The next year, Bacon won the exact same medals at the 2019 Pan American Games, swimming a 59.47 in the individual event and a 59.02 on the relay.
Considering her history, Bacon has what it takes to out-swim fellow freshmen Stadden and Bray and we wouldn’t be too shocked if she managed to pass Berkoff while she’s at it.
Another swimmer who has been under 51 in the 100 back before but hasn’t gotten there this season is Isabel Ivey. Ivey swam a 50.42 to earn herself a 4th place finish at NCAAs in 2019, behind Beata Nelson (49.18), Amy Bilquist (50.05), and Taylor Ruck (50.34). Ivey is the only A finalist from 2019 to return to the field this year.
Ivey’s season best this year is a 51.12 for fifth seed which is actually faster than what she had going into 2019 NCAAs where she dropped her 50.42. Going to that meet, she had a season-best of 51.73. Assuming she has done a full taper for this meet, Ivey could certainly be adding her name to the list of those fighting for the crown. Given her experience in the NCAA final; a unique asset compared to the field, we’ll give Ivey the third place spot in our predicted rankings.
The final two swimmers in the top 8 are Taxas junior Julia Cook with a 51.14 for 6th and Sarah Thompson with a 51.27 for 7th. Julia Cook raced to 15th place at NCAAs in 2019 with a 51.98 and ended last season in 11th place with a 51.27. Thompson on the other hand was 45th in 2018 (53.71), 30th in 2019 (52.54), and ended the 2019-2020 season in 9th with a 51.07. While both Cook and Thompson have improved impressively over the year’s, they will need to pull out all the stops to threaten the group of entrants who have been under 51.
TOP 8 PREDICTIONS
|PLACE||SWIMMER||TEAM||SEASON BEST||LIFETIME BEST|
|4||Katharine Berkoff||NC State||50.40||50.40|