2022 W. NCAA Previews: Faster than 1:50 to Win the 200 Butterfly?


  • When: Wednesday, March 16 – Saturday, March 19, 2021
  • Where: McAuley Aquatics Center / Georgia Tech / Atlanta, GA (Eastern Time Zone)
  • Short course yards (SCY) format
  • Defending champion: Virginia (1x) – Meet Results
  • Psych Sheets


  • NCAA: 1:49.51 2/24/2018 Ella Eastin Stanford
  • Meet: 1:50.01 3/17/2018 Ella Eastin Stanford
  • American: 1:49.51 2/24/2018 Ella Eastin Stanford
  • US Open: 1:49.51 2/24/2018 Ella Eastin Stanford

Last year’s final of the 200 butterfly only featured one senior, and all seven returning swimmers are entered into the event this year. Interestingly enough, though, in spite of that returning depth, both of the top two seeds were not in the A final last year. 

Highlighting as an addition to the meet is Stanford freshman Regan Smith. Smith won silver in the long course version of the event at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. She is the top seed in the event after swimming a time of 1:50.99 to win Pac-12s. The biggest difference between Pac-12s and NCAAs will be that she is taking on the 200 backstroke and 200 butterfly double. Both occur on the last day, and the butterfly is after the backstroke. 

Making huge moves from last year is Kentucky senior Riley Gaines who finished 22nd in the event last year with a time of 1:56.21. This year, Gaines has already been much faster as she is seeded with a time of 1:51.51 which she swam to win SECs. Gaines has already been a successful 200 freestyler as she was sixth in the event at NCAAs last year, so this the 200 butterfly is a new breakout event for her.

Defending champion Olivia Carter of Michigan has been one of the big names in the event over the last couple of years. In her freshman year at Georgia she was seventh in the event, she was seeded seventh in 2020 before the meet was canceled due to COVID-19, and then won the event last year as a junior. At this year’s B1G’s, she was faster than she was at the meet a year ago, which may be able to put her slightly faster than she was at NCAAs last year as well. 

Georgia’s Dakota Luther has been a consistent butterfly force in her time at Georgia. She was ninth as a freshman in 2019 and third as a junior in 2021. That trend is promising for her as well as her trend in SEC time as that time has gotten faster each year. 

Virginia’s Alex Walsh enters the mix this year after not swimming the event at all in her freshman year. She has already dropped over six seconds from her previous best of 1:58.10 from 2019 to be seeded fifth with a time of 1:51.83 which she swam at midseason. She did not swim the event at ACCs so she might have the possibility to swim much faster. 

Last year’s runner up Olivia Bray of Texas did not race the event at conferences so she may also have a little bit more in the tank than her seed time of 1:52.14. Last year she was second in a 1:52.87. 

Teammate Emma Sticklen won the event at conferences in a 1:52.82 but was just off of her best time of 1:52.47 which she swam at midseason. These times are all under her previous bests as she hadn’t been under 1:53 prior to this season. 

Megan Van Berkom of Minnesota has already made huge drops this season going from a 1:58.13 last season to a 1:53.89 this season. She competed in the event last year as a freshman so she has some experience under her belt. The way she improved from last season to this season, she has the potential to make the A final here.

Place Swimmer School Season Best Lifetime Best
1 Alex Walsh Virginia 1:51.83 1:51.83
2 Olivia Carter Michigan 1:51.62 1:51.33
3 Riley Gaines Kentucky 1:51.51 1:51.51
4 Regan Smith Stanford 1:50.99 1:49.78
5 Dakota Luther Georgia 1:51.65 1:51.65
6 Olivia Bray Texas 1:52.14 1:52.03
7 Emma Sticklen Texas 1:52.47 1:52.47
8 Megan Van Berkom Minnesota 1:53.89 1:53.89

Darkhorse- Sydney Harrington (Navy) Harrington was seeded ninth going into last year’s meet with a 1:53.74 and finished 16th with a time of 1:57.04 in finals. Her 1:53.74 was from a dual meet against Loyola-MD at the end of February 2021 as the Patriot League did not have a championship meet last year due to COVID-19. She could make some waves if she is able to replicate or surpass that dual meet time.

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go gators
1 year ago

the lack of UF reporting is showing!!!

1 year ago

no Amanda Ray? Her time improvement over the past few years proves she always swims at the level provided for her. I think she could be a sleeper agent who surprises us all to make a crazy appearance in the A final. 200 fly is her bread and butter.

Reply to  confused
1 year ago

Anything is possible! But swimmers who go PBs at last chance meets don’t usually drop another second at NCAAs. I think next year might be her year.

go gators
Reply to  Braden Keith
1 year ago

Totally see where you’re coming from, but her resilience this season has been unreal. Truly believe she could be our dark horse. no doubt this comment section will fire her up!

Say's Phoebe
1 year ago

The fastest ever swimmer in the 200 yd butterfly is Ella Eastin at 1:49.51

The 2nd fastest ever is Regan Smith at 1:49.78 (March 2021).

Smith went 1:50.99 at PAC-12s.

Smith went 1:51.24 in Dec 2018 when she was 16.

It’s absurd to think that Smith isn’t ready to race; she went 50.32 fly, 49.87 fly, 49.76 back, 49.50 back, and 49.23 back all in the same day at Pac-12s. That’s 4 49’s in stroke on the same day.

If Brendan Burns chose the 2back/2fly double at NCAAs it wouldn’t be a sure thing to make the A final in both swims. Burns would have to race really hard in the morning. Smith doesn’t have this problem; she can… Read more »

Just Sayin’
1 year ago

I don’t understand why people freak out about double events. When these athletes were age-groupers they would swim double or triple of what they swim today. If you can’t do anything hard for less than 2mins get out. Regan gunna say bye Feliciaaaa

Reply to  Just Sayin’
1 year ago

I freak out because my old ass can barely handle two 50’s at the same Master’s meet, it’s mind boggling to me that a woman can possibly go two 1:49’s in a 200 back/200 fly within 20 minutes of each other

Gen D
Reply to  PVSFree
1 year ago

My Masters coach was really into winning meets so he made most people swim the max number of events and would put you on all relays if you didn’t advise him to do otherwise. Once that resulted in 16 swims for me over 3 days (incl. 7 swims on the Saturday). The only thing that saved me was the consumption of ridiculous amounts of carbs throughout the weekend haha. It was insane!

Ol' Longhorn
Reply to  Gen D
1 year ago

Same happened to me. Then decided to go the unattached route.

Reply to  Gen D
1 year ago

Why would anyone let a masters coach dictate what events you swim?

Negative Nora (they/them)
1 year ago

1) Smith 1:50.52
2) Walsh 1:50.58
3) Carter 1:51.06

1 year ago

1. Alex Walsh 1:49.79
2. Regan Smith 1:49.87
3. Olivia Carter 1:50.56

Reply to  Melanie
1 year ago

It will be close but I think Regan has this one!

1 year ago

Go Dakota

1 year ago

Interesting to not include Kelly Pash on here. She was top 8 last year and has been 1:52

About Anya Pelshaw

Anya Pelshaw

Anya has been with SwimSwam since June 2021 as both a writer and social media coordinator. She was in attendance at the 2022 and 2023 Women's NCAA Championships writing and doing social media for SwimSwam. Currently, Anya is pursuing her B.A. in Economics and a minor in Government & Law at …

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