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


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.


  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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NC Swammer
3 months ago

Any word on the status of prelims/finals for the next 2 days? Ice storm rolling through GSO and temps not expected to warm up until tomorrow late afternoon..

Reply to  NC Swammer
3 months ago

Haven’t heard anything, but will ask around.

Reply to  Braden Keith
3 months ago

Conference says they’re monitoring, current plan is to proceed as originally scheduled.

(This is what PR people always say, because there’s no upside to an org to proposing a cancellation/change of plans until the actual cancellation/change of plans is announced, so take it for what it’s worth).

Reply to  Braden Keith
3 months ago

Does the GAC facility have back up generation?

Swimmer Mike
3 months ago

Where is richter from VA? She swam well last ACCs

Reply to  Swimmer Mike
3 months ago

No longer on the team.

Swimmer Mike
Reply to  Braden Keith
3 months ago

Interesting.. didn’t she swim at the dual meets at the end of January?

Reply to  Swimmer Mike
3 months ago

I think she quit the team/retired months ago. There was discussion in the comment section of an article awhile back.

Reply to  Swimmer Mike
3 months ago

She did not.

Swimmer Mike
Reply to  Braden Keith
3 months ago

Confused… was she suspended or something or did she quit?

Last edited 3 months ago by Swimmer Mike
Reply to  Swimmer Mike
3 months ago

Nobody is saying on the record.

Swimmer Mike
Reply to  Braden Keith
3 months ago

Interesting… okay. Seems fishy

Reply to  Swimmer Mike
3 months ago

No. She retired before the season. I’m not sure if she ever swam again after the Covid shutdown.

Reply to  Braden Keith
3 months ago

Wait what happened?

Reply to  Swimmer Mike
3 months ago

What about Anna Pang?

3 months ago

Omg they cut away to diving during the middle of a race…go back!!!

Reply to  Ervin
3 months ago

I may or may not be yelling at the tv at the moment…there we go…back to swimming…

Last edited 3 months ago by Robert Gibbs

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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