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

2021 ACC WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIPS

Following an explosive start to the 2021 Women’s ACC Swimming & Diving Championships on Wednesday, including the UVA women setting a new NCAA and American Record in the 200 medley relay, the first of three preliminary sessions goes off this morning with the 500 free, 200 IM and 50 free.

Virginia sophomore Kate Douglass, who entered as the top seed in both the 200 IM and 50 free, has opted for the former today, as she looks to repeat her 2020 title and possibly take a crack at Ella Eastin‘s American Record of 1:50.67. Douglass swam an ACC Record of 1:50.92 back in November.

NC State’s Katharine Berkoff has dropped the 200 IM in favor of the 50 free, where she comes in as the second seed behind teammate and defending champion Kylee Alons.

UVA senior Paige Madden, who won a staggering five ACC titles last season, enters the 500 free as the favorite to defend, owning the nation’s top time this season at 4:33.09. On last night’s 800 free relay, Madden had the fastest split in the field at 1:42.96 as the Cavaliers won by over four seconds in a new meet record of 6:54.31.

Women’s 500 Free Prelims

  • ACC Record: 4:28.90, Leah Smith (UVA), 2017
  • ACC Meet Record: 4:30.74, Leah Smith (UVA), 2016
  • NCAA ‘A’ Cut: 4:35.76
  • 2020 Champion: Paige Madden (UVA), 4:36.19
  1. Paige Madden (Virginia), 4:38.58
  2. Kate Moore (NC State), 4:43.33
  3. Reka Gyorgy (Virginia Tech), 4:44.14
  4. Madelyn Donohoe (Virginia), 4:44.72
  5. Chase Travis (Virginia Tech), 4:45.07
  6. Luciana Thomas (Notre Dame), 4:45.47
  7. Yara Hierath (NC State), 4:45.55
  8. Madeline Laporte (Notre Dame), 4:46.26

Defending champion Paige Madden wasted no time in asserting herself as the one to beat in the 500 freestyle, blasting out to a big lead in the final heat with a quick 1:48.75 split at the 200. The senior cruised into the finish in a time of 4:38.58, earning her the top seed for tonight by almost five seconds.

Madden, who owns a best time of 4:32.98 from the 2019 NCAAs, was over two seconds quicker than in last year’s prelims (4:40.93).

Virginia Tech freshman Chase Travis was the only other swimmer to advance to the ‘A’ final out of the last heat, putting up the fifth-fastest time overall in 4:45.07. Travis owns a PB of 4:41.71 from March of 2020.

NC State’s Kate Moore, the 2020 runner-up, paced the penultimate heat in 4:43.33, edging out VT senior Reka Gyorgy (4:44.14) over the last 50. Gyorgy led a strong showing for the Hokies, who put two swimmers in the ‘A’ final and three in the ‘B’.

Third last year, Virginia sophomore Madelyn Donohoe topped Heat 5 in 4:44.72 for fourth overall.

Notre Dame junior Madeline Laporte, who won last year’s ‘C’ final, qualified eighth in 4:46.26, just off her best of 4:45.87. The time required to make the championship final was only slightly slower than last season (4:46.02).

In Heat 3, Louisville freshman Liberty Williams dominated out of Lane 8 in a time of 4:46.47, ultimately placing 10th. Despite being seeded with a 4:58.13, Williams has been as fast as 4:44.38 this season. Her teammate Maria Sumida, who clocked 4:41.63 at the same meet Williams went 4:44, finished 19th this morning in 4:48.91.

Women’s 200 IM Prelims

  1. Kate Douglass (Virginia), 1:52.71
  2. Alex Walsh (Virginia), 1:54.41
  3. Julia Poole (NC State), 1:56.01
  4. Ella Nelson (Virginia), 1:56.07
  5. Emma Muzzy (NC State), 1:56.17
  6. Abby Hay (Louisville), 1:56.60
  7. Abby Harter (Virginia), 1:57.82
  8. Abby Arens (NC State), 1:57.83

Not surprisingly, the Cavaliers put on a very strong showing in the 200 IM and will occupy half of tonight’s ‘A’ final, led by defending champion Kate Douglass who easily claimed the top seed in 1:52.71.

The sophomore was miles ahead of the field on the fly leg alone, splitting a blistering 23.56, and she also had the fastest back split of the bunch in 28.36 before cruising home. Over a second faster than she was in last year’s heats (1:53.90), Douglass appears on form to take a run at the American Record tonight (Ella Eastin, 1:50.67).

2020 runner-up Julia Poole was a distant second to Douglass in the final heat, clocking 1:56.01 to go under her season-best set in December (1:56.19).

UVA first-year Alex Walsh also dipped under her season-best by a few tenths to win the penultimate heat and qualify second in 1:54.41, producing the fastest breast split of all ‘A’ finalists in 32.82. Walsh set her lifetime best back in December of 2018 in 1:53.69.

Fellow Cavalier Ella Nelson won the other circle-seeded heat for fourth overall in 1:56.07, just ahead of Wolfpack junior Emma Muzzy (1:56.17).

A trio of Abbys – Hay, Harter and Arens – round out the top eight.

Women’s 50 Free Prelims

  • ACC Record: 21.42, Kate Douglass (UVA), 2020
  • ACC Meet Record: 21.54, Caitlin Cooper (UVA), 2018
  • NCAA ‘A’ Cut: 21.66
  • 2020 Champion: Kylee Alons (NCS), 21.63
  1. Kylee Alons (NC State), 21.70
  2. Katharine Berkoff (NC State), 22.06
  3. Gabi Albiero (Louisville), 22.13
  4. Grace Countie (UNC), 22.20
  5. Christiana Regenauer (Louisville), 22.34
  6. Heather Maccausland (NC State), 22.36
  7. Rebecca Moynihan (Florida State), 22.45
  8. Alexa Cuomo (Virginia), 22.46

Reigning champion Kylee Alons scorched a 21.70 to lead the 50 free prelims by over three-tenths, marking both the second-fastest swim of her career and making her the #2 ranked swimmer in the NCAA this season.

Alons, a junior at NC State, holds a best of 21.63 from last season’s ACCs, and now trails only Kate Douglass (21.42) in the national rankings. One year ago, Alons swam a 21.85 in the heats en route to winning the conference title.

Her teammate Katharine Berkoff won Heat 8 in 22.06 to chop nearly two-tenths off her PB (22.25) and qualify second overall, just ahead of Louisville freshman Gabi Albiero (22.13) who had a similar drop for third. Albiero’s previous best time was a 22.36 from last February, and had been 22.38 earlier this season.

Another swimmer for the Cardinals, Christiana Regenauer, is the only swimmer other than Alons to make a second straight ‘A’ final in the event after placing fifth last season as a freshman.

UNC’s Grace Countie missed qualifying for the ‘A’ final last season by .04, but gets through today with a solid 22.20 for fourth.

Among the notable misses was Virginia Tech senior Joelle Vereb, who placed sixth in 2020 but was back in a tie for 20th this morning in 22.84.

OFFICIAL SCORES (DAY 1 ONLY)

  1. Virginia, 165.0
  2. Duke / Notre Dame, 144.0
  3. NC State, 142.0
  4. Virginia Tech, 137.0
  5. Georgia Tech / Louisville / Miami, 124.0
  6. North Carolina, 112.0
  7. Florida State, 96.0
  8. Pittsburgh, 90.0
  9. Boston College, 60.0

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50M Pools Rule
1 year ago

Abby, Abby, Abby.

lightning
Reply to  50M Pools Rule
1 year ago

Abby/Abby/Abby is the new Kylie/Kylee/Ky-Lee

Marklewis
1 year ago

Kate Douglass was ahead of Eastin’s record through the fly and back. She has a strong breast and free, so the record is definitely in play.

Easton closed in a 26.35, so Kate will need her strong kick down the stretch to get the NCAA and American record.

swimfan1
Reply to  Marklewis
1 year ago

Kate goes 1:49 tonight.

Marklewis
Reply to  swimfan1
1 year ago

Eastin was pushed by Kathleen Baker in the race that produced the record.

Alex Walsh and Kate Douglass are another good matchup.

It’s always a thrill to watch a new record being set.

leisurely1:29
Reply to  Marklewis
1 year ago

…or she will just need a 50-point opening 100 and she won’t need to worry about “Easton”‘s last 50 split.

Marklewis
Reply to  leisurely1:29
1 year ago

That’s what Kathleen Baker did in that record setting race. She swam an aggressive pace and was leading and then tightened up on the final lap.

Eastin executed an astounding final turn and underwater to pass her. She paced it perfectly for the win and the record.

It was one of the best races I can recall watching at an NCAA meet. Eastin broke the record by a whole second.

swimgeek
1 year ago

When you look at the 50 free/ 2IM results, it’s pretty obvious that Kate Douglass would have been more helpful to UVA in the 50. But I think UVA has the luxury for her to go after the Am Record. That said, UVA didn’t have the greatest morning. 3 no-scores in the 500; 1 in the 50.

lightning
Reply to  swimgeek
1 year ago

It may have actually helped UVA because if she had entered the 50 she would’ve knocked UVA’s only finalist out of the final (Cuomo seeded 8th would move to 9th)

Swimfan
Reply to  lightning
1 year ago

UVA is going to win the meet but they aren’t light years ahead like I thought they would be. I continue to be impressed by how Braden (and the staff that he continually has to replenish) gets so much out of these kids. They don’t get the big recruits as much but everyone who goes there improves so much.

swimapologist
Reply to  Swimfan
1 year ago

I know it’s popular for teams to manufacture bulletin-board material like this, but their last two classes have been ranked #9 and #4 in the country, with top 10 recruits in each.

The year before (current juniors) they also had a top 10 athlete (Muzzy) and an HM (Alons) and were ranked #5.

The year before (current seniors) they were #10.

So I mean, over the last 4 years, their recruiting classes were ranked on average #7 in the country? I’d say right now they’re maybe 6th or 7th best team in the country?

So I mean yeah, the staff is doing a nice job and coaching them up. But…I don’t really think there’s an ‘underdog’ story here. If… Read more »

Swimfan
Reply to  swimapologist
1 year ago

That’s fair. I guess I just get blasted more on Instagram by uva posts. I didn’t really know ncs classes were ranked that high.

swimgeek
Reply to  Swimfan
1 year ago

Yeah, who’s ever heard of that Berkoff kid? 😉

swimgeek
Reply to  lightning
1 year ago

I noticed that too. But there’s a points premium for first 1st place. UVA was going to win the 2IM with A. Walsh anyway. Walsh would score 4 points more, and the other 3 A-finalists would all score another point too. In the 50, Douglass would only be knocking one teammate back in the A final, and more importantly, she would be depriving NCST of a 1-2 finish.

lightning
Reply to  swimgeek
1 year ago

I see your point and either scenario is a bit of a “6 of one, half dozen of another” situation but I’ll leave you with this- if Cuomo was brought down to the B final her potential to slip/miss a turn/etc could cause a point slide down to 11 pts (16th place) whereas in the A final the worst she could do is 22 pts. That’s how you have to analyze it.

lightning
Reply to  swimgeek
1 year ago

Also, that’s what I love about championship season for these top teams. ACC champs strategy is often different than NCAA champs strategy. It just shows that swimming is more than just people diving in, swimming back-and-forth in a lane, and trying to get the best time.

Taa
Reply to  swimgeek
1 year ago

If you are Virginia and you are #1 in the nation by a large margin and you are worrying about a few points at the conference meet I think that sends the wrong message to your team.

swimfast
Reply to  Taa
1 year ago

This^ … having an American record holder on your team sends a stronger signal to other teams nationally than does winning your conference by 10-15 points more . And I’m sure UVA is most focused on winning NC’s

tea rex
Reply to  swimgeek
1 year ago

I think the biggest consideration is now Douglass gets to swim 200 IM AND 50 free, at a championship meet, before NCAAs. Chances of the meet being decided by 10 points or less are pretty slim.

Captain Ahab
1 year ago

Who is coaching the distance swimmers at Notre Dame University?

SwimFan
Reply to  Captain Ahab
1 year ago

Hahaha you mean who coaches the group that provides maybe 80% of the points ND scores at ACCs/NCAAs every year? Aaron Bell. With all the love certain coaches get on these boards you’d think he’d get more credit for helping the ND S/D program stay relevant through recruiting and developing the athletes…if they counted on their sprinting they’d be fighting with Boston College or Miami for the basement of the ACC

No need to be nasty
Reply to  SwimFan
1 year ago

@SwimFan easy to be nasty when you cower behind anonymity.

SwimFan
Reply to  No need to be nasty
1 year ago

What specifically is nasty? No coaches or athletes were negatively called out by name, which is actually uncommon for these comment boards. Only “nasty” aspect of my comment was needlessly throwing BC/Miami under the bus, so my apologies to those programs. It is a fact that the distance swimmers at ND have produced a disproportionate amount of points relative to their mid/sprint counterparts. Would love to see data that proves otherwise though!

Also – cowering behind anonymity….clearly something the two of us (and many others on here) do very well 😉

Hswimmer
1 year ago

Guess we can’t watch 50s

Snarky
1 year ago

Woah. Margaret Nelson clearly moved prior to the start. Will the officials call it?

All The Remote ACC Fans
1 year ago

ACCNX/ESPN seems to have adjusted to better video coverage of the pool. More full-pool shots, less unnecessary zooming-in. Keep it up guys!

Hswimmer
1 year ago

Is there no way to show all splits?? Sec does that..

Huh
Reply to  Hswimmer
1 year ago

I can see all the splits on the 500 on the live results.

Hswimmer
Reply to  Huh
1 year ago

I’m saying during the races

Huh
Reply to  Hswimmer
1 year ago

Oh. Well the ACCN production is definitely sub par, I can’t expect them to do anything like that.

NC Fan
Reply to  Hswimmer
1 year ago

The National Federation of High schools (NFHS) had the names over the lanes and full split information during all races for high school streaming coverage so it can’t be that hard. Come on ESPN, do better with the ACCNx.

Breezeway
Reply to  NC Fan
1 year ago

NFHS also had a lot of video quality issues too. ESPN is only going to give you the split of the leader

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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