Arizona senior Bonnie Brandon will be looking to bounce back from a challenging sophomore championship at the 2015 NCAA Swimming & Diving Championships in two weeks in Greensboro, North Carolina, and she’ll take on three individual freestyle events in her quest to do so.
When pre-selection entry lists were released on Tuesday, Brandon’s three entries were in the 500 free on day 1, the 200 free on day 2, and the 1650 free on day 3.
The big change there is that Brandon is entered in the 1650 free on the meet’s final day rather than the 200 backstroke. This will be the first time that she’s not entered in the 200 back at NCAA’s.
Brandon has had success at the college level in both the distance freestyles and the backstroke races, though she came out of high school best known as a 200 backstroker. Last season, she only swam one individual event (the 500 free on day 1 of the meet), as she was hit by illness that led to scratches of her other entries in the 200 free and 200 back.
Brandon has only swum the 1650 free once so far this season – at Arizona’s mid-season Texas Swimming & Diving Hall of Fame Invitational. At that meet, she swam an NCAA Automatic Qualifying Time of 15:48.35 – the 4th-fastest in the country so far this season.
She skipped that race at Pac 12’s, instead swimming the 200 backstroke. In that race, she swam a 1:52.98, which ranks her a respsectable 17th in the country.
Both races have a steep level of competition this season, but the 200 backstroke is deeper and a little more dangerous of an entry for a swimmer like Brandon. She saw that first hand, with four swimmers swimming faster than her even at her own conference championship meet.
The 1650 is equally as good at the top end (Leah Smith, Cierra Runge, Amber McDermott, Sarah Henry, Gillian Ryan, and the defending champ and record holder Brittany MacLean), but that event comes without the risk of a bad prelims swim leaving her out of the A-Final as it would in the 200 backstroke (which is one of the deepest 200 backstroke fields in NCAA history).
Brandon’s schedule won’t be completely devoid of backstrokes, however. She’s still the Wildcats’ fastest sprint backstroker and led off both of the team’s medleys at the Pac-12 Championships.
Bonnie Brandon’s NCAA Championship Entries, by Season
- Day 1: 500 free (4th)
- Day 2: 100 back (11th), 800 free relay (2nd)
- Day 3: 200 back (9th)
- Day 1: 500 free (5th), 400 medley relay (10th)
- Day 2: 200 free (scratch),
- Day 3: 200 back (scratch), 400 free relay (2nd)