2024 Women’s Division I NCAA Championships: Day 1 Finals Live Recap

2024 WOMEN’S NCAA SWIMMING AND DIVING CHAMPIONSHIPS

Day 1 Finals Heat Sheets

Folks, we’ve made it: the 2024 Women’s NCAA Championships start tonight. The 200 medley relay and 800 freestyle relay kick things off in Athens, Georgia and even though it’s only two events on day one of four , there’s plenty of exciting swimming in store for this session.

Last year, Virginia won both the day 1 relays and went on to sweep all five relays, a feat which hadn’t been accomplished since 2018. The Cavaliers have not lost an NCAA Championship relay since the opening night of the 2022 NCAAs when they placed 2nd to Stanford in the 800 free relay.

The big choice the Cavaliers have ahead of them is how to use Gretchen Walsh this session. At ACCs, she skipped her usual 200 medley relay in favor of leading off the 800 freestyle relay, where she fired off a 1:40.23 for the third-fastest swim all-time. The relay was only .37 second off Stanford’s NCAA record and breaking that would give them all five NCAA relay records. Will Walsh make the same choice here at NCAAs, or maybe even race both relays and forgo one of the later ones?

That decision dictates how the session goes. If she swims both, then Virginia will dominate day 1. Leaving her off either relay opens the door–maybe only slightly–for another program to play upset. Ohio State had a great 200 medley relay at conferences and are the top seed. If they recapture that could make a run at the title. Similarly, Florida could spoil the Cavaliers’ dreams of another relay sweep in the 800 freestyle relay. The Gators set an SEC record of 6:49.65 at their conference championships as Bella Sims led off in a 200 free SEC record of 1:40.90.

Women’s 200 Medley Relay

  • NCAA Record: 1:31.51 – Virginia (G. Walsh, A. Walsh, L. Cuomo, K. Douglass), 2023
  • Meet Record: 1:31.51 — Virginia (G. Walsh, A. Walsh, L. Cuomo, K. Douglass), 2023
  • American Record: 1:31.51 – Virginia (G. Walsh, A. Walsh, L. Cuomo, K. Douglass), 2023
  • U.S. Open Record: 1:31.51 – Virginia (G. Walsh, A. Walsh, L. Cuomo, K. Douglass), 2023
  • 2023 NCAA Champion: 1:31.51 – Virginia (G. Walsh, A. Walsh, L. Cuomo, K. Douglass)

Top 8:

  1. Virginia (G. Walsh, Nocentini, Novelline, Parker) — 1:31.58
  2. Ohio State (Funderburke, Bach, Zenick, Ivan) — 1:33.09
  3. Florida (Runnels, Mayne, Peoples, Cronk) — 1:34.30
  4. Cal — 1:34.55
  5. Tennessee — 1:34.64
  6. Texas — 1:34.74
  7. USC — 1:34.81
  8. Stanford — 1:35.10

DQs: NC State, Princeton

The Cavaliers wasted no time announcing their presence in Athens. This 200 medley win from Gretchen Walsh, Jasmine Nocetini, Carly Novellineand Maxine Parker is Virginia’s ninth-straight relay win at the NCAA Championships, a streak which dates back to 2022.

Virginia dominated the race, winning by 1.51 seconds. They touched in 1:31.58, missing their own NCAA record from 2023 by just seven-hundredths. That’s an impressive feat, considering that 2023 relay had a 20.34 anchor from Kate Douglass.

G. Walsh got things started for Virginia with the fastest 50 backstroke split in history. She fired off a 22.10, eclipsing Maggie MacNeil‘s 22.52 mark by a monstrous .42 seconds. Nocentini followed up with a 25.79 breaststroke split, a few tenths slower than the 25.49 she swam at ACCs. The Cavaliers made an interesting choice to leave Alex Walsh off this relay, and went with Novelline on fly. She split 22.38, then Parker brought things home for the squad in 21.38.

After putting together an excellent swim at Big Tens, Ohio State–rocking some lovely football jerseys–improved on their conference championship swim by .38 seconds. The first three legs of their relay were all faster than they were in February: Nyah Funderburke went 23.44, improving from 23.61, Hannah Bach swam 25.68, dropping from 25.92, and KitKat Zenick improved from 22.45 to 22.33 here in Athens. They got a 21.64 anchor from Teresa Ivan to give them a combined time of 1:33.09 for 2nd place.

Florida’s squad of Aris Runnels (23.82), Molly Mayne (26.71), Olivia Peoples (22.42), and Micayla Cronk (21.35) added .12 seconds from their winning time at SECs as they took 3rd in 1:34.30. But from a points perspective, this is a huge upswing for them as they were disqualified last year.

Speaking of DQs, there were two in this event. For the team standings race, the notable one was NC State. The Wolfpack have the smallest rosters of schools projected to finish in the top 15 with just six individual qualifiers. It’s going to be a close race for the top 10, and now the Wolfpack are playing from behind. Katharine Berkoff split 20.35 on the anchor but was the one with an early take off (-0.17).

Within the top 8, the other two teams to drop time from their seed were Tennessee (5th, 1:34.64) and Stanford (8th, 1:35.10). On the Vols relay, Mona McSharry tied Bach for the fastest breaststroke split in the field with a 25.68. Meanwhile, Amy Tang had a big swim on the Cardinal relay, dropping a 21.23 anchor.

Women’s 800 Freestyle Relay

  • NCAA Record: 6:45.91 — Stanford (S. Manuel, L. Neal, E. Eastin, K. Ledecky), 2017
  • Meet Record: 6:45.91 — Stanford (S. Manuel, L. Neal, E. Eastin, K. Ledecky), 2017
  • American Record: 6:45.91 — Stanford (S. Manuel, L. Neal, E. Eastin, K. Ledecky), 2017
  • U.S. Open Record: 6:45.91 – Stanford (S. Manuel, L. Neal, E. Eastin, K. Ledecky), 2017
  • 2023 NCAA Champion: 6:49.82 – Virginia (A. Canny, A. Walsh, R. Tiltmann, E. Nelson)

Top 8: 

  1. Florida (Sims, Ivey, Weyant, Cronk) — 6:48.59
  2. Tennessee (Douthwright, Spink, Mrozinski, Fuller) — 6:50.82
  3. Stanford (Roghair, Nordmann, Mannion, Wilson) — 6:51.17
  4. Virginia — 6:51.41
  5. Indiana — 6:54.03
  6. Georgia — 6:54.67
  7. Texas — 6:54.68
  8. Michigan — 6:54.70

The winning streak is over for the Cavaliers as they finished 4th in the 800 freestyle relay.

Ahead of them, the Florida women swum to victory, moving up from their 6th place finish in this event last year. In her first swim at the NCAA Championships, Bella Sims led the Gators off in 1:41.03, the fastest lead-off in the field. Isabel Ivey followed up with a 1:41 of her own, splitting 1:41.64 to extend the Gators’ lead.

Emma Weyant split 1:42.90 as the Gators remained clear of the field. Then in her second swim of the session, Cronk anchored in 1:43.02. The quartet clocked a new pool record along with a new program record of 6:48.59, improving on their 6:49.65 from SECs.

That swim came in spite of being without one of their best 200 freestylers, junior Ekaterina Nikonova, who injured her knee earlier this year and missed SECs and these NCAA Championships.

Tennessee also improved on their time from SECs, bettering their seed time by 2.51 seconds. The Volunteers (along with Stanford and Virginia) were also under the old pool record with their 2nd place time of 6:50.82.

Brooklyn Douthwright led off in 1:42.45, putting Tennessee ahead of both Virginia and Stanford. The Volunteers moved into 2nd place during freshman Camille Spink’s leg, thanks to her 1:42.08 split Julia Mrozinski dove in just ahead of Virginia’s Ella Nelson. Mrozinski split 1:43.81, then junior Josephine Fuller anchored in 1:42.48.

Stanford opened with Aurora Roghair (1:42.82), Lillie Nordmann (1:42.32), and Natalie Mannion (1:43.75). Over the final leg, Kayla Wilson ran down Virginia’s anchor Reilly Tiltmann. Wilson split 1:42.28, pulling the Cardinal even with Virginia then eventally passing them to take 3rd in 6:51.17.

The Cavaliers finished 4th as Aimee Canny (1:42.83), A. Walsh (1:41.88), Nelson (1:42.37), and Tiltmann (1:44.33) swam 6:51.41.

There was a big gap to 5th place. After getting a huge opening swim from Anna Peplowski, who posted a 1:41.16, the Hoosiers were locked in a race with Georgia and Texas in the final heat. Kristina Paegle’s 1:43.47 split proved to be the difference maker, and Indiana took 5th in 6:54.03 ahead of both Georgia and Texas.

Scores Thru Day 1

  1. Florida — 72
  2. Virginia — 70
  3. Tennessee — 62
  4. Stanford — 54
  5. Texas — 50
  6. Cal — 48
  7. Indiana/USC/Ohio State — 36
  8. (tie)
  9. (tie)
  10. Michigan — 32
  11. Georgia — 26
  12. Wisconsin/Louisville — 20
  13. (tie)
  14. Duke — 18
  15. UNC — 14
  16. Arizona State — 10
  17. Virginia Tech — 8
  18. Auburn/Texas A&M — 4
  19. (tie)
  20. Alabama — 2

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Derp
2 months ago

I wish there was one sub 1:40 split but Walsh’s 50 back lightning

Beginner Swimmer at 25
2 months ago

Damnnnnn UVA getting smacked by dem GATORS 🐊 😮‍💨

Hokie Fan
2 months ago

21st ⏩14th

Congratulations Ladies. Hokie Nation is proud of you.

🦃🧡

JonathanNC
2 months ago

Good grief! I’m not going to panic about Virginia, although the murmurs seem justifiably popular. I view their 800 FR as a calculated strategy. Take the hit right off the bat; the rest of the matchups still seem solid for three days. I can’t see the point differential between 1st and 4th in one relay changing the order of team finish. I’m guessing the plan was accept 2nd place, or 3rd; and yeah, 4th may be a bit underwhelming. But I don’t see it as altering the final outcome. I’m kind of happy for the other teams getting a little love for a minute. Maybe UVA is a tad less dominant than last year, but I feel very safe with… Read more »

Yikes
Reply to  JonathanNC
2 months ago

Yeah they underperform once and people are quick to say the sky is falling! They probably expected second at worst and didn’t expect such a slow time from Tiltmann, but yeah, they’re definitely winning the rest of the relays with Walsh available. They’ve been really fun to watch the last few years but I’m glad to see some new teams get a chance in the spotlight! Obviously they have their superstars but it’ll be interesting to see how their B finalists do and how their depth shows up.

Last edited 2 months ago by Yikes
Troyy
2 months ago

Videos anywhere?

Troyy
Reply to  Troyy
2 months ago

https://swimswam.com/2024-womens-ncaas-watch-florida-win-first-800-fr-relay-title-since-1989-day-1-race-videos/

Edit: How ridiculous a link to SwimSwam getting caught in the spam filter.

Last edited 2 months ago by Troyy
Can’t kick can’t pull
2 months ago

I’m only here for the toxic negativity. Where is it

Spieker Pool Lap Swimmer
Reply to  Can’t kick can’t pull
2 months ago

Andrew’s been here already. Scroll down.

Can’t kick can’t pull
2 months ago

De sorbo is no good

Swimfan27
Reply to  Can’t kick can’t pull
2 months ago

Are you okay?

Klorn8d
2 months ago

Watching peplowski swim that relay made me think she is going to be on the Olympic final relay, and maybe get an individual spot. So much fast on the top of the water, noticeably gaining on Bella while swimming. Also her progression in the 500 shows she’s training to have that last 50 in long course

The General
Reply to  Klorn8d
2 months ago

You are so on point. Her progression over the last three years is exponential. She just keeps getting better and better. Trials is going to be so exciting. Go Horse!!

Caleb
Reply to  Klorn8d
2 months ago

Yes and it’s been an underwhelming SCY season for Gemmell and yes, Sims. We’ll see what comes tomorrow and the next few months.

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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