2023 NCAA Division I Women’s Championship: Day 2 Prelims Live Recap



It’s the first full day of swimming at the 2023 NCAA Women’s Division I Swimming and Diving Championships. This session, we’ll see heats of the 500 freestyle, 200 IM, and 50 freestyle. At the end of the session are the prelims for 1-meter diving.

In the 500 free, Texas’ Erica Sullivan is the top seed with a 4:35.88. Behind her the Stege sisters–Rachel Stege and Kristen Stege–are separated by just four-hundredths after their duel at the SEC Championships. Sullivan’s teammate Olivia Bray holds down the fourth seed after only swimming the 500 free a handful of times in her collegiate career.

During prelims of the 200 IM, Alex Walsh and Kate Douglass will set up for what should be a sensational race in finals. Walsh is the defending champion and the American record holder, but Douglass came just seven-hundredths from that record at ACCs. We won’t see the fireworks go off until finals, but both need a safe and solid swim here to make it through.

Their teammate Gretchen Walsh holds down the top seed in the final event of the session, the 50 freestyle. Walsh finished second to Douglass in this event last year and at ACCs, took down her teammate’s NCAA and American records with a 20.83. Meanwhile, LSU’s Maggie MacNeil is aiming at upsetting the new NCAA record holder–she’s also been under 21 seconds this season in a lifetime best 20.98.


  • NCAA Record: 4:24.06, Katie Ledecky (Stanford) 4:24.06 — 2017
  • Meet Record: 4:24.06, Katie Ledecky (Stanford) — 2017
  • American Record: 4:24.06, Katie Ledecky (Stanford) — 2017
  • US Open Record: 4:24.06, Katie Ledecky (Stanford) — 2017
  • Pool Record: 4:33.09, Paige Madden (Virginia) — 2020
  • 2022 Champion: Lia Thomas (Penn) — 4:33.24

Top 16:

  1. Erica Sullivan (Texas) – 4:36.51
  2. Abby Carlson (Wisconsin) – 4:37.56
  3. Rachel Stege (Georgia) – 4:37.72
  4. Kensey McMahon (Alabama) – 4:37.81
  5. Olivia Bray (Texas) – 4:38.48
  6. Dune Coetzee (Georgia) – 4:38.54
  7. Ching Hwee Gan (Indiana) – 4:39.21
  8. Emma Weyant (Florida) – 4:39.51
  9. Maddie Donohoe (Virginia) – 4:39.58
  10. Kate McCarville (Tennessee) – 4:40.43
  11. Julia Mrozinski (Tennesee) – 4:40.53
  12. Mabel Zavaros (Florida) – 4:40.54
  13. Natalie Mannion (Stanford) – 4:40.54
  14. Tylor Mathieu (Florida) – 4:40.62
  15. Mia Motekaitis (Cal) – 4:40.80
  16. Lindsay Looney (ASU) – 4:40.81

The 500s were relatively quiet this morning, with Erica Sullivan posting the fastest time of the morning in 4:36.51, which is about six-tenths slower than her entry time. Sullivan held off a late charge from Abby Carlson, a Wisconsin sophomore, to take the win in the final heat. Carlson made her move with about 75 yards to go, passing Sullivan’s teammate Olivia Bray to touch in 4:37.56, a new personal best. Bray took third in the heat with a 4:38.48, good for fifth seed.

Out of heat 5, a non-circle seeded heat, Georgia’s Dune Coetzee had a great swim, leading almost from the start of the race. She touched in 4:38.54 which shaves a few tenths off her previous personal best, which she swam in the ‘B’ final at this meet last year. Now, she finds herself in the ‘A’ final as the time held up as the sixth fastest overall.

Last year’s runner-up Emma Weyant snuck into the ‘A’ final in eighth. She swam 4:39.51, adding 1.55 seconds from her seed time.

There were nine swimmers who hit a 4:40 this morning, meaning that it was an extremely tight race for the ‘B’ final. Tennessee’s Kate McCarville was the fastest of the 4:40s, grabbing tenth in 4:40.43. Maddie Donohoe is the ninth seed in 4:39.58, and Virginia’s only finalist in the event.

Stanford also only got one finalist (and in the ‘B’ final), Natalie Mannion. The freshman had a big swim out of heat 3, dropping 2.41 seconds for a new lifetime best of 4:40.54 and grabbing 13th.

PAC-12 champion Lindsay Looney rounds out the finalists in 16th, with a 4:40.81, which is 2.52 seconds off what she went to win her title. It was just enough to earn her a second swim though, as she finished just a hundredths ahead of the 17th place finisher, Paige McKenna.


  • NCAA Record: 1:50.08, Alex Walsh (Virginia) — 2022
  • Meet Record: 1:50.08, Alex Walsh (Virginia) — 2022
  • American Record: 1:50.08, Alex Walsh (Virginia) — 2022
  • US Open Record: 1:50.08, Alex Walsh (Virginia) — 2022
  • Pool Record: 1:50.92, Kate Douglass (Virginia) — 2020
  • 2022 Champion: Alex Walsh (Virginia) — 1:50.08

Top 16:

  1. Kate Douglass (Virginia) – 1:51.81
  2. Torri Huske (Stanford) – 1:52.38
  3. Alex Walsh (Virginia) – 1:52.89
  4. Abby Hay (Louisville) – 1:54.03
  5. Ella Nelson (Virginia) – 1:54.06
  6. Emma Sticklen (Texas) – 1:54.18
  7. Sarah Foley (Duke) – 1:54.35
  8. Phoebe Bacon (Wisconsin) – 1:54.43
  9. Josephine Fuller (Tennessee) – 1:54.61
  10. Zoie Hartman (Georgia)/Kelly Pash (Texas) – 1:54.63
  11. (tie)
  12. Lucy Bell (Stanford) – 1:54.89
  13. Leah Polonsky (Cal) – 1:55.01
  14. Noelle Peplowski (Indiana) – 1:55.37
  15. Abby Arens (NC State) – 1:55.41
  16. Kennedy Noble (NC State) – 1:55.48

Top seed Kate Douglass cruised to the fastest time of the morning in 1:51.18. In the final heat, she took over the lead on the breaststroke leg after Texas’ Emma Sticklen–who swam the 50 free at NCAAs last year–got out to a fast start through the butterfly/backstroke legs. She held on for second in the heat, holding off Zoie Hartman. Sticken qualified for the ‘A’ final in sixth, while Hartman tied for 10th and will swim in the ‘B’ final.

It was a similar story for defending champion and American record holder Alex Walsh in heat 8. Like her teammate, Walsh built her way into the race, taking over the lead on the breaststroke leg from Phoebe Bacon, clocking 1:52.89 for third seed overall. Senior Ella Nelson made her move on the breaststroke leg as well, passing Bacon to finish second in the heat and qualify fifth. Nelson finished eighth in this event in 2022 and now with Douglass swimming, the Cavaliers have three athletes through to the ‘A’ final. Bacon clocked 1:54.43, a season best which is just four-hundredth from her personal best.

Stanford’s Torri Huske dropped almost a second from her season best to grab lane 5 in the final with a 1:52.38. She was the 2022 runner-up and this is much faster than she went in the prelims last year (1:54.05).

Though Texas got Sticklen into the ‘A’ final, last year’s fifth place finisher Kelly Pash tied with Hartman for tenth in 1:54.63, missing the ‘A’ final.

Continuing the session’s trend of the Stanford freshmen swimming well, Lucy Bell swam a personal best by .32 seconds, clocking 1:54.89 to make the ‘B’ final. Also making the ‘B’ final was NC State’s duo of junior Abby Arens and freshman Kennedy Noble, who qualified 15th and 16th.

Cal’s Isabelle Stadden was disqualified for swimming “more than a quarter of the race on her back.”


Top 16:

  1. Gretchen Walsh (Virginia) – 21.00
  2. Maggie MacNeil (LSU) – 21.38
  3. Gabi Albiero (Louisville) – 21.46
  4. Grace Countie (UNC-Chapel Hill) – 21.51
  5. Lexi Cuomo (Virginia) – 21.61
  6. Christina Regenauer (Louisville)/Katharine Berkoff (NC State) – 21.68
  7. (tie)
  8. Teresa Ivan (Ohio State) – 21.71
  9. Julia Dennis (Louisville) – 21.73
  10. Kalia Antoniou (Alabama) – 21.82
  11. Eboni McCarty (Georgia) – 21.86
  12. Amy Fulmer (Ohio State) – 21.87
  13. Mona McSharry (Tennessee) – 21.89
  14. Ashley Turak (Indiana) – 21.90
  15. Maxine Parker (Virginia) – 21.92
  16. Kristina Paegle (Indiana) – 21.98

The new NCAA and American record holder Gretchen Walsh easily clocked the fastest time of the morning in the 50 freestyle. The sophomore swam 21.00, stopping the clock .38 seconds faster than the second fastest qualifier, LSU’s Maggie MacNeil. As the only two in the field who have been under 21 seconds before, they are the two favorites for the final and Walsh has made it clear that she is the one to beat.

Walsh’s teammate Lexi Cuomo had a big swim out of heat 6, dropping a personal best of 21.61. Her old fastest mark was 21.80 from this meet last year.

Louisville had a strong display here in the final event of the session. In addition to putting two swimmers, Gabi Albiero (21.46) and Christina Regenauer (21.68) into the ‘A’ final, freshman Julia Dennis leads the ‘B’ final as the 9th overall qualifier (21.73). Dennis shaved a tenth off the personal best that she’d swum last month at ACCs. Both Albiero and Regenauer added a tenth from their seeds, but are solidly positioned as the third and sixth seeds.

2022 ‘A’ finalists Grace Countie and Katharine Berkoff both made it back for the championship heat this year. Countie dropped a season-best 21.51 for fourth seed while Berkoff added two-hundredths from her seed to tie for sixth with Regenauer. Rounding out the ‘A’ finalists is Ohio State’s Teresa Ivan, who shaved .07 off her personal best with a 21.71.

After finishing 28th in this event last year, Eboni McCarty swam a new personal best of 21.86, qualifying for the ‘B’ final as the 11th seed. Also posting a lifetime best was Indiana’s Ashley Turak, who lowered her mark from 21.99 in 2021 to 21.90. She made it back for a second swim as the 14th seed.

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Electro Wizard
1 year ago

Lol. Sandpipers laughing at the 500, Claire Weinstein (class of ’25) would’ve won this morning session by 3 seconds

Jimmy Johns
1 year ago

The consistency of the Tennessee flop at NCAAs is unreal. Kredich is a master of the flop

Reply to  Jimmy Johns
1 year ago

This is BS. Stege was the only one who was off today. We were projected to have four scorers today and we have four scorers. McCarville and Mrozinski improved their seed. Fuller fell from 8th to 9th. McSharry fell from 8th to 13th with a .1 add. This is not a flop.

Douthwright and Breslin both went best times and improved on their seeds by a lot. Ngyuen and Stotler were solid as well.

This narrative has had some validity in past years. Through two sessions, that’s not the case this year and you’re just being a hater.

Reply to  VFL
1 year ago

I wouldn’t call it a flop just yet esp since they improved on their seed by 1 place in the 4×200 and held seed in the medley relay but going from 3 A-finals, one of which was in contention for the title, to 0 A-finals has got to sting

pete kennedy
1 year ago

Unfortunately, it appears the Big10 left their best times behind.
Maybe Friday and Saturday will awaken the 10.

1 year ago

Also MacNeil has been quite consistent from prelims to finals in the 50- she dropped 0.44 at 2021 B10s, 0.41 at 2021 NCAAs, and 0.43 at 2023 SECs (she was off of this last year, with 0.28 at B10s and 0.15 at NCAAs but I’m chalking that up to being a bad year for her).

Gretchen was 0.18 at 2023 ACCs, 0.14 at 2022 NCAAs, and 0.21 at 2022 ACCs.

On paper this puts Gretchen’s finals time to be somewhere in the 20.79 to 20.86 range and MacNeil’s in the 20.94 to 20.97 range. Ofc the race isn’t decided yet but I think Maggie has her work cut out for her. I’m predicting a 20.8low for Walsh and… Read more »

Last edited 1 year ago by jeff
1 year ago

meanwhile, 4:33 placed 4th at junior nationals west

1 year ago

sub 1:51 Huske?? She dropped 2.2 seconds last year from prelims to finals and I’m not expecting that much of a drop but even half of that puts her in the 1:51 high/1:50 low range

1 year ago

Arthur Albiero really has something working down there, and you heard it here first, Alex Shackell is going to commit there

Samuel Huntington
1 year ago

I have the Pac-12 as a whole going 1 up, 5 down this morning. Yikes.

About Sophie Kaufman

Sophie Kaufman

Sophie grew up in Boston, Massachusetts, which means yes, she does root for the Bruins, but try not to hold that against her. At 9, she joined her local club team because her best friend convinced her it would be fun. Shoulder surgery ended her competitive swimming days long ago, …

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