2024 Women’s Division I NCAA Championships: Day 2 Finals Live Recap

2024 WOMEN’S NCAA SWIMMING AND DIVING CHAMPIONSHIPS

Day 2 Finals Heat Sheets

Welcome back to Athens for the second night of finals at the 2024 Women’s Division I NCAA Championships. It’s the first finals session with individual events after yesterday kicked off the meet with two relays.

Order of Events:

  • 500 Freestyle (top seed: Emma Weyant, Florida — 4:34.32)
  • 200 IM (top seed: Alex Walsh, Virginia — 1:51.95)
  • 50 Freestyle (top seed: Gretchen Walsh, Virginia — 20.41)
  • 1-meter Diving (top seed: Hailey Hernandez, Texas)
  • 200 Freestyle Relay (top seed: Virginia — 1:23.63)

The session gets started with one of the most exciting women’s 500 freestyle finals in years. Seven women went faster than 2023’s winning time in prelims.

Emma Weyant took the top seed with a 4:34.32, but Anna Peplowski isn’t too far behind her with her personal best and Indiana school record 4:34.72. Bella Sims owns the fastest personal best in the field and she’s sitting 3rd after turning her kick on in the closing yards of her prelims swim to out-touch Aurora Roghair. The hometown Dawgs also put three swimmers into the ‘A’ final, taking 6th through 8th.

Alex Walsh leads the 200 IM field by exactly a second ahead of Tennessee’s Josephine Fuller. After taking bronze last year, Walsh is aiming to reclaim the NCAA title. She’ll also take a run at the 1:50 barrier. 2nd through 8th are separated by less than a second after prelims, projecting a close race for the rest of the spots on the podium.

In case you were confused by the results of the 50 free prelims, a couple clarifying points: no, this is not ACCs. Yes, Gretchen Walsh did indeed break all her records in prelims. She threw down a blistering 20.41, bypassing the 20.57 standard she set in February. Walsh is clear of the field by .82 seconds–an absolutley ridiculous margin for a 50 freestyle. She’s as close to a lock as you can get for the NCAA crown, so the question on everyone’s mind is how much faster can she be tonight?

In addition to G. Walsh, Virginia also has Jasmine Nocentini and Maxine Parker (who won a three-way swim-off for 7th place) in the 50 freestyle ‘A’ final. That bodes well for their 200 freestyle relay to close out the session. The three swimmers plus A. Walsh combined for a new NCAA record in the race at ACCs. They put together a 1:23.63 as G. Walsh blitzed a 19.95 split. Both the squad and G. Walsh will try to better that in the final race of the night.

Florida currently holds a two point lead over Virginia but the Ups/Downs project that the Cavaliers will take over the lead during this session.

Women’s 500 Freestyle — Final

  • NCAA Record: 4:24.06 — Katie Ledecky, Stanford (2017)
  • Meet Record: 4:24.06 — Katie Ledecky, Stanford (2017)
  • American Record: 4:24.06 — Katie Ledecky, Stanford (2017)
  • U.S. Open Record: 4:24.06 — Katie Ledecky, Stanford (2017)
  • Pool Record: 4:24.06 — Katie Ledecky, Stanford (2017)
  • 2023 Champion: 4:36.62 — Kensey McMahon, Alabama

Top 8: 

  1. Bella Sims (FLOR) — 4:32.47
  2. Emma Weyant (FLOR) — 4:33.70
  3. Anna Peplowski (IU) — 4:34.06
  4. Aurora Roghair (STAN) — 4:34.26
  5. Cavan Gormsen (UVA) — 4:35.37
  6. Abby McCulloh (UGA) — 4:37.13
  7. Rachel Stege (UGA) — 4:37.26
  8. Dune Coetzee (UGA) — 4:40.08

The night couldn’t have started any better for the Florida Gators. They went 1-2 in the 500 freestyle, collecting a huge 37 points. Bella Sims didn’t waste any time; as we’ve seen her do so often, she jumped right out to the lead, flipping first in 23.98.

The field began to catch up to her during the back half of the race, but Sims had built up enough of a lead that it didn’t matter. In her first individual NCAA event, Sims claimed her first title and the Gators first in the 500 free since 2008. She improved on her SEC record and season-best of 4:32.53 by six-hundredths.

Her teammate Emma Weyant pulled ahead of Anna Peplowski and Cavan Gormsen on the back 250-yards of the race. She powered herself to 2nd place in 4:33.70, improving on the personal best she swam at SECs in February. That was her first best time in the event since 2022 and now she’s broken the 4:34 mark for the first time in her career.

There were a slew of best times in this field; Peplowski lowered the best she swam in prelims by .66 seconds, grabbing third in 4:34.06. She didn’t even race this event at 2023 NCAAs and heading into this season, her best was a 4:48.80. Over course of the season, she’s taken 14.74 seconds off her best.

Though not as dramatic a drop as Peplowski, Aurora Roghair clocked a personal best of her own. She put in a big final 150-yards to pull ahead of Gormsen for 4th. She bettered the PB she swam in prelims with a 4:34.26, which marks a 2.06 drop on the day for her.

Katie Crom (Michigan) and Hayden Miller (Texas A&M) swam personal bests to finish 9th and 10th overall. Both of their times tonight would’ve won the 2023 title.

Women’s 200 IM — Final

  • NCAA Record: 1:48.37 — Kate Douglass, Virginia (2023)
  • Meet Record: 1:48.37 — Kate Douglass, Virginia (2023)
  • American Record: 1:48.37 — Kate Douglass, Virginia (2023)
  • U.S. Open Record: 1:48.37 — Kate Douglass, Virginia (2023)
  • Pool Record: 1:51.62 — Meghan Small, Tennessee (2019)
  • 2023 Champion: 1:48.37 — Kate Douglass, Virginia (2023)

Top 8:

  1. Alex Walsh (UVA) – 1:49.20 *Pool Record* 
  2. Isabel Ivey (FLOR) – 1:51.96
  3. Josephine Fuller (TENN) – 1:52.04
  4. Lucy Bell (STAN) – 1:52.64
  5. Phoebe Bacon (WISC) – 1:53.16
  6. Kelly Pash (TEX) – 1:53.64
  7. Ella Nelson (UVA) – 1:53.65
  8. Zoe Dixon (FLOR) – 1:54.27

She’s done it: Alex Walsh is the second swimmer in history to break the 1:50 barrier in the 200 IM. She reclaimed the NCAA title with a 1:49.20, a personal best by .87 seconds.

Alex Walsh, PBs Split Comparison

2024 NCAAs 2023 NCAAs
Fly 23.80 23.95
Back 27.30 27.57
Breast 31.20 31.72
Free 26.90 26.83
1:49.20 1:50.07

She was faster on three of the four legs, but the big difference for Walsh came on the breaststroke leg. There, she improved on her 2023 NCAA self by .52 seconds.

Out of lane 1, Isabel Ivey put together a huge final 50 yards to take second place. Ivey blazed home in 26.57 on the final leg–the fastest in the field–to earn another 17 points for the Gators. It’s her first time under 1:52, improving on the 1:52.50 she swam at SECs last month.

Josephine Fuller made it two SEC swimmers in the top 3, grabbing 3rd place for Tennessee. Fuller swam a personal best of 1:52.04. Not only is that a time improvement (surpassing the 1:52.58 from 2024 SECs) but it’s a big improvement on her placement in the standings. Last year, Fuller was 11th in 1:54.94.

Lucy Bell also moved from the ‘B’ final to the ‘A’ final this year. She finished 15th in 2023 (1:56.25) and moved up nine places this year to take 4th (1:52.64). She came into the meet with a lifetime best of 1:54.89, which she bettered with a 1:53.50 in prelims.

In 2023, Bell added over a second from prelims to finals. This year, she went the opposite direction–another form of improvement for the sophomore. Bell swam another personal best in the championship final with a 1:52.64; a 2.25 second drop on the day.

NC State’s Kennedy Noble won the ‘B’ final, edging out Stanford’s Caroline Bricker, 1:53.72 to 1:53.87.

Women’s 50 Freestyle — Final

Top 8:

  1. Gretchen Walsh (UVA) — 20.37 *New Everything Record
  2. Katharine Berkoff (NCS) — 21.09
  3. Jasmine Nocentini (UVA) — 21.10
  4. Christiana Regenauer (LOU) — 21.48
  5. Julia Dennis (LOU) — 21.60
  6. Gabi Albiero (LOU) — 21.67
  7. Brady Kendall (MICH)/Maxine Parker (UVA) — 21.74
  8. (tie)

Gretchen Walsh just continues to lower all the records in the 50 freestyle. In the final, she beat the 20.41 she swam in prelims by four-hundredths, bringing the record to an incredible 20.37. Since she tied Maggie MacNeil‘s 20.79 NCAA mark at the 2023 Tennessee Invite, Walsh has outright broken that record four times now.

Walsh came into this season with a 20.83 personal best, which’s she’s now cut .46 seconds from. She’s now .42 seconds faster than anyone else in history has been in this event. And she won this race by an even larger margin of victory; she was .72 seconds faster than the 2nd place Katharine Berkoff.

That doesn’t take anything away from Berkoff’s swim. The fifth-year rebounded from being a part of NC State’s disqualified 200 medley relay on Day 1 with a personal best and runner-up trophy in this event. Berkoff dropped five-hundredths from the 21.14 she clocked at ACCs. With her 21.09, Berkoff now becomes the 6th fastest performer in the event according to USA Swimming.

She passed Jasmine Nocentini on the all-time performers list. After Nocentini got the better of Berkoff in the ACC final, Berkoff beat her here in Athens by a hundredth. For her part, Nocentini made this a 1-3 finish for the Cavaliers with a personal best of her own. She dropped three-hundredths to improve her fastest swim to 21.10, which now makes her the 7th fastest performer.

The Louisville contingent went 4-5-6 in this race. Christiana Regenauer led the way for the Cardinals with a 21.48 that’s just .02 seconds off her personal best from 2024 ACCs. Julia Dennis swam 21.60 for 5th ahead of senior Gabi Albiero, who anchored Louisville’s 200 medley relay in 21.16 yesterday.

After placing third in the 7th place swim-off, Grace Cooper won the ‘B’ final for Texas. She matched her prelims swim exactly with a 21.71, out-touching Ashley Turak by two-hundredths.

Women’s 1-Meter Diving — Final

  • NCAA Record: 365.75 — Mia Vallee, Miami, 2022
  • Meet Record: 365.75 — Mia Vallee, Miami, 2022
  • 2023 Champion: 358.75 — Aranza Vazquez Montano, UNC

Top 8:

  1. Aranza Vazquez Montano (UNC) — 350.50
  2. Hailey Hernandez (TEX) — 326.20
  3. Nike Agunbiade (USC) — 319.50
  4. Joslyn Oakley (TAMU) — 311.60
  5. Bridget O’Neill (TEX) — 295.50
  6. Elna Widerstrom (MINN) — 293.65
  7. Camyla Monroy (FLOR) — 281.10
  8. Margo O’Meara (DUKE) — 266.80

Before last year, UNC had never won an NCAA title on the boards. But then came Aranza Vazquez Montano. She won both the 1-meter and 3-meter boards in 2023 and just successfully defended her 1-meter title. She was incredibly consistent throughout the six rounds and scored 350.50 points en route to her third career NCAA title.

After earning first in prelims, Hailey Hernandez finished 2nd with 326.20 points. That improves on her 4th place finish in 2023. With both her performance and Bridget O’Neill‘s 5th place the Longhorns picked up some valuable points and more than they scored in this event last year when only Hernandez made the ‘A’ flight.

USC’s Nike Agunbiade rounded out the top three with 319.50 points, 7m9 points ahead of Joslyn Oakley.

Women’s 200 Freestyle Relay — Timed Final

  • NCAA Record: 1:23.63 — Virginia (J. Nocentini, G. Walsh, A. Walsh, M. Parker), 2024
  • Meet Record: 1:24.51 — Virginia (K. Douglass, G. Walsh, L. Cuomo, M. Parker), 2023
  • American Record: 1:23.87 — Virginia (K. Douglass, G. Walsh, L. Cuomo, A. Walsh), 2023
  • U.S. Open Record: 1:23.63 — Virginia (J. Nocentini, G. Walsh, A. Walsh, M. Parker), 2024
  • Pool Record: 1:26.31 — California (A. Weitzeil, A. Bilquist, V. Hull, F. Osman), 2016
  • 2023 Champion: 1:24.51 — Virginia (K. Douglass, G. Walsh, L. Cuomo, M. Parker), 2023

Top 8:

  1. Virginia (J. Nocentini, G. Walsh, A. Walsh, M. Parker) — 1:24.05 *Pool and Meet Record*
  2. Louisville (G. Albiero, C. Regenauer, J. Dennis, E. Welch) — 1:25.47
  3. Texas (G. Cooper, A. Longi, E. Sticklen, K. Pash) — 1:26.17
  4. USC — 1:26.47
  5. Michigan — 1:26.55
  6. Tennessee — 1:26.65
  7. NC State — 1:26.75
  8. Indiana — 1:26.84

DQ: California

Virginia was off the NCAA record 1:23.63 they swam at ACCs last month, but their 1:24.05 was more than enough to claim their third-straight NCAA title in the 200 freestyle relay. Fresh off her third place finish in the indivdual 50 free, Nocentini was out first in the final heat, holding off a late charge from Berkoff to give her team the lead at the first exchange in 21.26.

Nocentini handed the race over to G. Walsh. Walsh fired off a 20.23 split. That’s slower than the groundbreaking 19.95 she swam at 2024 ACCs but is still the third-fastest 50 freestyle split in history, giving her the top three performances. Her older sister went into the water next and split 21.23; Parker anchored in 21.33 and stopped the clock at 1:24.05 for new meet and pool records.

Louisville was best of the rest as they took 2nd place behind Virginia. That’s an unsurprising result given that they had three swimmers in the 50 free ‘A’ final and it improves on their 3rd place last year. Albiero led off for the Cardinals in 21.77, just a tenth off her time from the ‘A’ final. Regenauer swam their fastest split of 21.11 with Dennis right behind her in 21.17. Sophomore Ella Welch anchored in 21.42, giving the quartet a final time of 1:25.47.

The Longhorns improved on their entry time for 3rd place, jumping up from their 6th place finish last year. Cooper, the ‘B’ final winner, got Texas started with a 21.92. Ava Longi (21.31), Emma Sticklen (21.35), and Kelly Pash (21.59) followed Cooper and combined for a 1:26.17.

USC earned 4th place out of the second timed final. Their squad of Caroline Famous (21.71), Minna Abraham (21.59), Anicka Delgado (21.62), and Vasilissa Buinaia (21.55) swam 1:26.47, dropping .60 seconds from their entry time.

Interestingly, Olivia Peoples swam fly on her leg of Florida’s 200 free relay. She split 22.25 as Florida finished 10th in 1:27.23.

The Golden Bears were disqualified after a -0.04 reaction time from their third swimmer. They swam 1:26.88, which would’ve finished 10th ahead of Florida.

Scores Thru Day 2

  1. Virginia — 210.5
  2. Florida — 163
  3. Texas — 141
  4. Stanford — 105
  5. Tennessee — 104
  6. Louisville — 99
  7. USC — 94
  8. Indiana — 87
  9. Michigan — 80.5
  10. Georgia — 75
  11. Ohio State — 61
  12. California — 59
  13. NC State — 50
  14. Wisconsin — 40
  15. UNC — 34
  16. Duke — 33
  17. Texas A&M — 26
  18. Utah — 14
  19. Minnesota — 13
  20. Auburn/Alabama — 12
  21. (tie)
  22. Arizona State — 11
  23. Rutgers/Virginia Tech/LSU — 6
  24. (tie)
  25. (tie)
  26. Northwestern — 4
  27. Kansas — 3
  28. Akron — 1

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John26
2 months ago

This means she’ll probably break each of the 45/48/48 barriers for the free/fly/back, right?

dg5301
Reply to  John26
2 months ago

Going sub-48 in the fly is going to be much more about execution than whether she’s optimally tapered, imo. The speed was there at ACCs, but she was long on every wall. If she gets everything just a bit more right, she has it. If she nails it, I think she can go 47.6.

Weinstein-Smith-Ledecky-Sims
Reply to  John26
2 months ago

50 free, 100 free, 100 fly

The 100 back is not in the schedule.

Furthermore, UVA needs Gretchen Walsh on the fly leg of the women’s 4 x 100 medley relay.

Miss M
Reply to  Weinstein-Smith-Ledecky-Sims
2 months ago

Alex says hello!

Weinstein-Smith-Ledecky-Sims
2 months ago

Predictions:

How many points does it take to win the 2024 NCAA Division I Women’s Swimming & Diving Championships?

Step right up!

As a footnote, Texas finished with 414.5 points at the 2023 NCAA Division I Women’s Swimming & Diving Championships.

Michigan Fan
2 months ago

Michigan looking great tonight! Thrilled for team and coach Bowe. Let’s keep it rolling tomorrow! #GoBlue

Diehard
Reply to  Michigan Fan
2 months ago

I said similar. Outstanding first year job! Or any year!

Swammer11
2 months ago

For the swimming points, Virginia is -1.5 off heat sheet scoring, Florida is +2, and Texas is -5

Swammer11
Reply to  Swammer11
2 months ago

*this is cumulative score, not just day 2.

Weinstein-Smith-Ledecky-Sims
Reply to  Swammer11
2 months ago

The anchor leg of the women’s 4 x 200 freestyle relay cost UVA 4 points.

Weinstein-Smith-Ledecky-Sims
2 months ago

UVA thru the first two days of the Women’s Division I Swimming & Diving Championships:

2023 – 208.5 points
2024 – 210.5 points

Without Kate Douglass, that’s not fair for the rest of the competition.

Weinstein-Smith-Ledecky-Sims
2 months ago

UVA will win the remainder of the women’s relays as well as the 2024 NCAA Division I Women’s Swimming & Diving Championships. The diciest individual event is Alex Walsh winning the women’s 200 yard breaststroke.

PCB
Reply to  Weinstein-Smith-Ledecky-Sims
2 months ago

She just went 1:49.2 in the 200 IM…. her breast split was 31.2…

For context, at ACCs she went 1:51.7 in the 200 IM and then 2:02.2 in the 200 BR.

She is going to smoke the entire field in the 200 BR.

Last edited 2 months ago by PCB
Weinstein-Smith-Ledecky-Sims
Reply to  PCB
2 months ago

It won’t be as painful to watch as the women’s 200 yard butterfly from last year.

PCB
Reply to  Weinstein-Smith-Ledecky-Sims
2 months ago

It was interesting to hear her talk about “bouncing back” after a bad year last year, when talking to Elizabeth.

She sure has. It is fun to see the Walsh’s (and Douglass when she did it) just continue to drop time every time.

Weinstein-Smith-Ledecky-Sims
Reply to  PCB
2 months ago

A “bad year” versus a Kate Douglass phenomenal NCAA Division I women’s championships?

Pescatarian
Reply to  Weinstein-Smith-Ledecky-Sims
2 months ago

Agreed T

Weinstein-Smith-Ledecky-Sims
2 months ago

So … does Alex Walsh exercise the fifth year option to swim with Claire Curzan next season?

CavaDore
Reply to  Weinstein-Smith-Ledecky-Sims
2 months ago

God, I hope so!

Mr. One Millionth Comment
2 months ago

I like “TIMED FINALS” for relays!

So much so that I think that’s the way it should be done at the OLYMPICS.

Evening OLY relay finals would consist of just two seeded heats — and everything on the line! Twice the excitement.

Can imagine a country coming out of the “B” heat to win a medal. WOW!

And no need for relay only swimmers! That’ll get your head count down.

Jeb
Reply to  Mr. One Millionth Comment
2 months ago

That would be lame

PCB
Reply to  Mr. One Millionth Comment
2 months ago

Why are we promoting getting head count down? It’s great that Olympic teams can take the most swimmers as possible.

Mr. One Millionth Comment
Reply to  PCB
2 months ago

Such a move would open up 6 spots (3 for men, 3 for women) for an extra 50 meter stroke swimmer. And then add the 50 stroke events!

Pretty cool, right!

Last edited 2 months ago by Mr. One Millionth Comment
Marcy Swammer
Reply to  Mr. One Millionth Comment
2 months ago

Couldn’t disagree more, the new format doesn’t allow for the top 8 teams at THIS meet to compete against each other. It’s no secret not all teams perform against their seed times; and some significantly drop time from their seeds. Relays, like individual events, would be so much more exciting if the ACTUAL fastest top 8 teams were swimming against each other ….

Admin
Reply to  Marcy Swammer
2 months ago

I agree with “much more exciting.”

I also think that in general, people overestimate the value of ‘racing against competition’ for most athletes as compared to ‘racing from the lead’.

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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