2023 Swammy Awards: NCAA Division I Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships

2023 NCAA WOMEN’S SWIMMING AND DIVING CHAMPIONSHIPS

Check out the full box score here.

Virginia’s three-peat is complete.

The Cavaliers came home from Knoxville with their third national championship in as many years after breaking six NCAA records at the 2023 NCAA Championships hosted by the University of Tennessee. LSU fifth year Maggie MacNeil also added a seventh NCAA record in the 50 free (20.79).

FINAL FULL STANDINGS

  1. Virginia – 541.5
  2. Texas – 414.5
  3. Stanford – 333
  4. Louisville – 288
  5. NC State – 263
  6. Ohio State – 223
  7. Indiana – 219
  8. Tennessee – 214
  9. Florida – 179
  10. UNC-Chapel Hill – 152
  11. Cal – 137
  12. USC – 125
  13. LSU – 112
  14. Alabama – 111
  15. Wisconsin – 100
  16. Georgia – 90.5
  17. Minnesota – 53
  18. Arizona – 52
  19. Kentucky – 49
  20. Virginia Tech – 46
  21. Duke – 42
  22. Miami (FL) – 36
  23. Michigan – 33
  24. Purdue – 32
  25. Texas A&M – 26
  26. South Carolina – 25
  27. Arizona State – 19
  28. Northwestern/Arkansas – 18
  29. (tie)
  30. Auburn – 14
  31. Hawaii – 11.5
  32. Florida State – 11
  33. Miami (OH) – 9
  34. UCLA – 8
  35. Penn – 7
  36. Akron/Nevada – 5
  37. (tie)
  38. FIU – 4
  39. Georgia Tech/Utah – 2

Swimmer of the Year: Kate Douglass, Virginia

Virginia senior Kate Douglass won this award last year after breaking two NCAA records and an American record in the 50 free, 200 breast, and 100 fly, and she somehow still managed to outdo herself this year at her final NCAAs.

The 21-year-old star shattered NCAA, American, and U.S. Open records in all her three of her individual events, earning victories in the 200 IM (1:48.37), 100 fly (48.46), and 200 breast (2:01.29). In those first two races, Douglass had to out-duel stacked fields where other competitors (Huske, Alex Walsh, and MacNeil) were also under the previous records.

“I think I’ve kind of left myself a little speechless,” Douglass said. “I was very shocked with last year’s performance. Coming into this season, I was kind of just like, ‘I have no idea how I can be better than that.’ So to see myself outdo my performance from last year is pretty crazy. I’m pretty speechless.”

As for her future plans, Douglass confirmed after the meet that she will be staying at Virginia to train while she pursues a master’s degree. After raising the bar every season of her collegiate career, we can’t wait to see what’s next in store for the most versatile American swimmer at the moment.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Gretchen Walsh, Virginia – After losing the 50 free title just .06 seconds behind LSU fifth year Maggie MacNeil on Thursday night, Virginia sophomore Gretchen Walsh bounced back to finish her second NCAAs on an absolute tear. Gretchen’s elite underwaters separated her from the competition the rest of the meet as she won her last two individual events, clocking an NCAA-record 48.26 in the 100 back and a 45.61 in the 100 free that missed the NCAA record by just .05 seconds.
  • Maggie MacNeil, LSU – The grad transfer from Michigan kicked off her last collegiate meet with NCAA and U.S. Open records in the 50 free on Thursday night, just barely out-touching Gretchen Walsh (20.85) with a 20.79. Her reaction time (.64 compared to Gretchen Walsh‘s .74) proved to be the difference in sneaking past the top seed. On Friday night, MacNeil followed up her performance with another swim under the previous NCAA record in the 100 fly (48.51), but Douglass managed to get her hand on the wall just .05 seconds sooner. MacNeil capped her meet with a third-place finish in the 100 free (46.58) behind Stanford sophomore Torri Huske (46.46) and Gretchen Walsh (45.61).

Coach of the Year: Todd DeSorbo, Virginia

Virginia scored 10 less points than last year, but that’s hardly a knock on the Cavs after they were responsible for taking down six of the seven NCAA records that fell this week en route to their third national crown in a row.

Head coach Todd DeSorbo‘s group is the first since Stanford (2017-19) to pull off a three-peat, joining an exclusive class of three-peat winners along with Texas, Stanford, Georgia, and Auburn. Virginia is only the fourth program ever to win all five relays at NCAAs.

Not only did the Cavs get huge performances out of their “Big 3” — Douglass and the Walsh sisters — but they also received valuable contributions from freshman Aimee Canny, junior Maxine Parker, senior Ella Nelson, and senior Lexi Cuomo. Overall, Virginia had the most points above the psych sheet projections according to SwimSwam’s final scoring analysis.

Honorable Mentions: 

  • Rick Bishop, LSU – Thanks to the arrival of MacNeil and the emergence of two divers, the Tigers enjoyed a massive jump in the standings from 32nd to 13th — their highest team finish since 1993. On top of MacNeil’s 53 points from her podium finishes in the 50 free, 100 fly, and 100 free, LSU added 31 diving points courtesy of junior Montserrat Lavenant (17 points) and sophomore Chiara Pellacani (14 points). MacNeil and Lavenant combined for four medals, lifting the Tigers to a total of 112 points to cap Bishop’s second season in Baton Rouge. After the meet, the program got another boost when MacNeil announced she’ll be staying at LSU to train with Bishop & Co. through the Paris 2024 Olympics next summer.
  • Ray Looze, Indiana – The Hoosiers’ sophomores stepped up on the big stage, with Ching Hwee Gan leading the way as an A-finalist in both distance free events. Fellow second-year Indiana swimmer Anna Peplowski also impressed with a sixth-place finish in the 200 free (1:43.57) and a 9th-place showing in the 200 back (1:51.84). Overall, the Hoosiers outperformed psych sheet expectations this week more than any other team besides Virginia. Expected to finish 8th, Indiana ended up placing 7th and tying its program record for the highest finish at NCAAs.

New-Hires Coach of the Year: Mike Stephens, Hawaii

During his first year at Hawaii, former Boston College head coach Mike Stephens worked with USC grad transfer Laticia Transom to support her comeback this season. After being cleared to swim in September following health issues, Transom tied for 7th in the 100 free (47.50) to improve on her 26th-place finish from last year’s NCAAs. She was Hawaii’s first A-finalist since 2019.

More impressively, though, Stephens also helped the Rainbow Wahine qualify their first NCAA relay since 2005. The quartet of Laticia Transom, Anna Friedrich, Gabby Scudamore, and Holly Nelson came up just short of the ‘A’ cut during last month’s MPSF Championships before deciding to pursue an automatic NCAA bid at Georgia’s Last Chance meet the next week in Athens.

After two failed attempts, the group finally crushed its previous-best time by nearly two seconds with a 3:12.76, the 9th-fastest time in the country this season and a full 1.34 seconds under the ‘A’ cut. Each member of the relay posted a personal-best split between Nelson’s 49.07 leadoff, Transom’s 46.66, Friedrich’s 48.55, and Scudamore’s 48.48. Team members credited their improvement this season to Stephens’ infectious positivity that fuels their confidence.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Doak Finch, Duke – Finch may not technically be a new hire — at least not yet — but the interim head coach took over a tough situation in Durham following former coach Dan Colella‘s death in December. Freshman Kaelyn Gridley and junior Sarah Foley (20 points apiece) became the first pair of Blue Devils to earn All-America honors. They reached the wall close behind each other in the 200 breast, with Gridley touching 6th (2:06.26) and Foley winning the B-final (2:06.58). As a team, Duke’s 21st-place finish is the best since 2011, when the Blue Devils placed 19th.
  • Dave Durden, Cal – During his first season as head coach of both the men’s and women’s swimming programs at Cal, Durden led the Bears to an 11th-place finish in the team standings. While the result is a three-place drop from last year, it’s still impressive considering everything the program went through this season in the wake of former coach Teri McKeever‘s paid administrative leave, investigation, and dismissal in late January. The Bears were projected to finish 12th this year, and they outperformed expectations with an 11th-place showing, scoring eight more points than the psych sheet indicated amid the outside noise surrounding the program.

Breakout Swimmer of the Year: Josephine Fuller, Tennessee

After going slightly off her best time from last month in the 200 IM and missing the A-final on Thursday night, Tennessee sophomore Josephine Fuller bounced back with a 7th-place finish in the 100 back (51.518) and a 4th-place finish in the 200 back (1:50.22) on Saturday night. Her two-second drop in the 200 back at NCAAs this year is even more significant given the fact that she added a second at last year’s meet. She finished with 33 points, tying with junior Mona McSharry for the most on the Volunteers’ roster. As a program, Tennessee seems to have its NCAA taper figured out.

Honorable Mentions: 

  • Rachel Stege, Georgia – The Georgia sophomore was an A-finalist in both the 500 free (5th place, 4:37.32) and 1650 free (8th-place, 15:54.55), leading the Bulldogs with 25 points. Stege’s new lifetime best in the mile now ranks fifth in program history. She accelerated over the final two lengths of the pool, posting a 25.89 split late that ranked as the fastest in the field.
  • Ching Hwee Gan, Indiana – Gan lowered her personal best in the mile by nearly seven seconds with a 15:46.28, the fastest swim by a Hoosier since Lindsay Vrooman (15:44.45) in 2014. She led Indiana with 29 points, earning a runner-up finish in the mile and adding a 7th-place showing in the 500 free (4:38.91).

Freshman of the Year: Claire Curzan, Stanford

Curzan ended her first NCAAs on a high note with a dominant performance in the 200 back, clocking a 1:47.64 that came just four-tenths shy of the NCAA record set by Wisconsin’s Beata Nelson in 2019. The top recruit in her class, Curzan lived up to the hype by totaling 51 points, one more than fellow Tokyo Olympic silver medalist Torri Huske. Curzan also placed 4th in the 100 fly (50.09) and 3rd in the 100 back (50.08).

Honorable Mentions:

  • Lydia Jacoby, Texas – The reigning Olympic gold medalist in the 100 breast started off her meet in epic fashion on night 3, claiming her “first big win since the Olympics” with a 57.03 to hold off Tennessee’s Mona McSharry (57.16) and junior teammate Anna Elendt (57.29). She finished sixth on the Longhorns in terms of scoring with 26 points after missing the A-final of the 200 breast with an 11th-place finish (2:06.66).
  • Kaelyn Gridley, Duke – NC State freshman Kennedy Noble totaled more points than Gridley (23 vs. 20), but Gridley gets the nod here for registering lifetime bests in both of her main events. Gridley first placed 10th in the 100 breast with a 58.76, missing the A final by just a couple tenths, before earning a 6th-place finish in the 200 breast with a personal-best 2:06.26, taking nearly half a second off her previous best from last month’s ACC Championships (2:06.74).

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Bucky Badger
2 months ago

Big improvement for Abby Carlson…last swimmer invited last year into the meet finishing 25th in the 500 free and moved up to 2nd. Was 38th in the 200 free last year and 14th this year.

Yup
2 months ago

Curzan “lived up to the hype” by swimming slower than she did in high school?

The worm
Reply to  Yup
2 months ago

Kinda cringe bro. She scored 51 points (5th most only behind Douglass, MacNeil, and the Walsh’s) and won an event…

VFL
2 months ago

Love the Fuller shout-out! One to watch in the long pool. UWs are much improved but man is she special on top of the water.

Worth repeating how special this sophomore class is at Tennessee. If Ellen and Summer are back. Along with Rathwell and our freshman class—Tennessee could crack the top 3 next year.

Joe S
2 months ago

I would like to put Augie Busch in the running, for lasting the longest in a head coaching role while taking down programs. Virginia men and women could not be happier with his exit and what they have accomplished since he left. Always an under-performer.

However, The award for for his performance this year truly shows his success! Bringing fewer swimmer than divers, one of which was inherited and scored all the points for the Arizona team. Congrats, busch Lite… you must be proud.

2Fat4Speed
2 months ago

These awards are important now that they are starting to be written into coaches contracts!

Chris
2 months ago

What about Abby Hay?

Yup
Reply to  Chris
2 months ago

What about her?

Sherry Smit
2 months ago

Paige McKenna should be included somewhere in here. Took 4 months off of swimming for a surgery and came back, a little off her PB but still managed to get 3rd at 15:48 in the 1650.

Chris
Reply to  Sherry Smit
2 months ago

it was impressive but i think they want to include swimmers that win their events at a minimum. Nonetheless, she was great.

Lab Counter
2 months ago

Most impressive thing about Stege was her overcoming some injuries and being patient about it all.

About Riley Overend

Riley is an associate editor interested in the stories taking place outside of the pool just as much as the drama between the lane lines. A 2019 graduate of Boston College, he arrived at SwimSwam in April of 2022 after three years as a sports reporter and sports editor at newspapers …

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