arena Swim of the Week: Florida Freshman Catie Choate Hits 1:51.94 200 Back At UGA Invite

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Disclaimer: Swim of the Week is not meant to be a conclusive selection of the best overall swim of the week, but rather one Featured Swim to be explored in deeper detail. The Swim of the Week is an opportunity to take a closer look at the context of one of the many fast swims this week, perhaps a swim that slipped through the cracks as others grabbed the headlines, or a race we didn’t get to examine as closely in the flood of weekly meets.

A number of female freshmen were on fire last weekend during the first round of midseason invites in the NCAA, and one of them was Florida’s Catie Choate, who dropped three seconds in one day en route to winning the 200 backstroke at the UGA Fall Invite.

Choate, 19, came into the season with a lifetime best of 1:54.90 in the event, set at last December’s Winter Junior Championships in Greensboro, and had been nipping on the heels of that time early on in her first season at Florida, clocking 1:55-highs at three consecutive dual meets in September and October.

She then got down to 1:53.73 in the prelims on the final day of last weekend’s invitational on Saturday, qualifying 2nd into the final behind freshman teammate Bella Sims (1:51.15), and then after Sims scratched the final to head to the Golden Goggles, Choate took full advantage.

Choate dominated the event from start to finish, cruising to victory by more than two and a half seconds in a time of 1:51.94, marking a near three-second improvement from her PB entering the day.

Split Comparison

Choate, 2022 Winter Juniors Choate, UGA Invite Prelims Choate, UGA Invite Final
27.14 26.21 26.01
55.94 (28.80) 54.90 (28.69) 54.07 (28.06)
1:25.75 (29.81) 1:24.23 (29.33) 1:22.78 (28.71)
1:54.90 (29.15) 1:53.73 (29.50) 1:51.94 (29.16)

The performance launched Choate up into 3rd in the nation so far this season, trailing only Phoebe Bacon, the 2021 NCAA champion who has been 2nd the past two seasons, and Sims.

These rankings come with the caveat that 2023 NCAA 3rd-place finisher Isabelle Stadden has yet to race at midseason with the Minnesota Invite on the docket next weekend, while 5th-place finisher Kennedy Noble didn’t race the 200 back at the NC State Invite.

2023-24 NCAA Rankings, Women’s 200 Backstroke

  1. Phoebe Bacon (Wisconsin), 1:50.36 – Texas Invitational
  2. Bella Sims (Florida), 1:51.15 – Georgia Fall Invitational
  3. Catie Choate (Florida), 1:51.94 – Georgia Fall Invitational
  4. Natalie Mannion (Stanford), 1:52.42 – Texas Invitational
  5. Caroline Bentz (Virginia Tech), 1:52.43 – NC State Invitational

For Choate, her swim puts her in position to score at NCAAs this season, with 1:51.23 being last year’s ‘A’ final cut-off and 1:52.76 being required to advance to the consolation final.

The Dynamo Swim Club product added best times in the 50 back (24.67), 100 back (52.45) and 200 IM (2:00.21) last weekend.

You can watch the 200 back race video below courtesy of UGA Swim & Dive on YouTube:

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About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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