After a record-filled day 2, day 3 looks like it might be a touch slower in that department – there’s some really good records on the books on the final day. Don’t be surprised if one or two still are gotten (you can never count it out with the likes of Katinka Hosszu, Caitlin Leverenz, and Breeja Larson all swimming well), but teams will be jockeying primarily for position on this final day of competition.
Women’s 200 Backstroke
This women’s 200 backstroke looked early like it was going to take a much faster finals time to win that it did last year (where under a 1:54.9 earned a spot in the top 16). There were some fast times in the early heats, including a 2nd-heat (out of 7) swim from Brienne Ryan out of Fordham, then a 3rd heat swim from Cal’s Melanie Klaren in 1:54.3, and finally a fourth-heat swim. All of that came before the circle-seeded heats that saw the top 24 qualifiers.
But as the later heats rolled through, though top-end times were very good, the cut time gradually dropped, and settled at a 1:54.6.
The two favorites in tonight’s final will be exactly as expected: Florida’s Elizabeth Beisel (1:51.44) and Dominique Bouchard of Missouri (1:51.91). They both swam out of the final heat in qualifying, where Cal’s 100 backstroke champ Cindy Tran went out extremely hard in 53.5, which was more than a second faster that NCAA Record pace. But she lost it hard in the last 100 yards, and ended up not finaling. Meanwhile, Beisel and Bouchard both had big back-half swims. Bouchard wasn’t close to negative splitting this race (she’s done it many times before – recall last year when she almost came back from about 5 yards to win this race), though this season she seems to be working on taking the swim out much harder. Watch that in finals.
Arizona’s Sarah Denninghoff (1:52.85) and Virginia’s Meredith Cavalier (1:52.89) could be very close to the lead at the halfway mark in the final, but they’ll need at least a second to hold off either Beisel or Bouchard.
Among the tightly-packed group vying for top-3 spots, Stanford’s Maya DiRado made the A-Final, and Georgia will have the top two seeds in the B (Kelsey Gaid and Kristen Shickora).
Women’s 100 Free
There is going to be a great race in this 100 free final. Without appearing to put out a particularly huge effort, there were already 6 women under 48 seconds in this 100 free prelim. Georgia’s Megan Romano became the 3rd-fastest woman in history with a 47.05 to take the top seed. Arizona’s Margo Geer (47.22) is now the 6th-fastest in history. Karlee Bispo of Texas (47.5) went a best time without looking like she was racing until the last 7 or 8 strokes. She and Cal’s Liv Jensen (47.71 – 5th), swimming out of the first circle-seeded heat nearly got caught in the trap of the fast swimming, but were still well through to the A-Final.
Auburn’s Anna Vanderpool-Wallace continued to be challenged on walls against taller opponents – it was evident lined up next to Romano – but was still safely into the A-Final with the 4th seed in 47.6. All the way down to Missouri’s Shara Stafford and Stanford’s Maddie Schaeffer, this is a great field.
If Romano breaks below 47 seconds in the final, she’ll have to feel very good about her chances at this summer’s Olympic Trials.
Stanford’s Betsy Webb had to be disappointed to wind up in the B-Final, as she finished 9th in 48.36. She’s been in only A’s thus far in this meet. Georgia’s Maddie Locus looked much better in this 100 than she did in the 50 (she seems to have turned a corner after a great medley anchor on Friday) and swam a 48.48 to make the B-Final.
Women’s 200 Breaststroke
Cal’s Caitlin Leverenz and Texas A&M’s Breeja Larson alternated warning-shots in the prelims of this 200 breaststroke. Swimming out of the 2nd-to-last heat, Larson (the 100 yard champion and record-breaker) went out in a 1:00.2. By comparison, that’s half-a-second faster than she was in her finals swim last season, which shows how far she’s developed since then. She then shut it down big time, but still swam to a very relaxed 2:07.23. One heat later, Leverenz started very out much slower (1:01.8), but came home very fast to take away the top seed with a 2:06.79.
In finals, expect Larson to become only the second woman (after Rebecca Soni) en route to a legitimate 200 breast. She’s so tall that off the start she only has to take about 4 strokes on the first 25. But Leverenz will close very hard. Both swimmers could challenge the old record of 2:04.75 (it’s a very tough one), but I’d still peg Leverenz as the winner either way.
The defending champion Haley Spencer of Minnesota finished 5th in 2:08.75. She can’t be counted out in the final, but hasn’t looked great (though not bad either) in this meet so far.
The 3rd-seed is Gisselle Kohoyda, the breakout sophomore out of the elite Louisville breaststroking program, in 2:08.49 and George Mason’s Ashley Danner in 2:08.53. Also look out for 7th-seed Allysa Vavra out of Indiana in the final. She had outstanding walls in this prelim, and has a very quick turnover.
Women’s 200 Fly
This 200 fly prelim went about exactly as would have been expected, with USC”s Katinka Hosszu taking the top seed in 1:52.84; A&M’s Cammile Adams coming in second in 1:53.76, and Cal’s Sara Isakovic as the 3rd seed in 1:54.71. Hosszu may seem a mile off of this record of 1:49.9, but don’t count her out. She was able to slow-play this prelim and still easily take the top seed – at the least she should win this race handily. Adams, the defending runner-up, and Isakovic, the 100 fly champion, should expect a great battle for 2nd. Tanya Krisman of USC, Kelsey Floyd of Tennessee, and Teresa Crippen of Florida were all within a tenth of Isakovic’s 3rd-seeded time. It would be a tall order on the back-fly double for Crippen, but I really like Floyd’s chances to work up and challenge for top 2 as well.
A&M got a surprise second A-Finalist in the form of Caroline McElhaney, who is the 8th seed in 1:55.15. The Texas transfer has really blossomed for the Aggies this season and gotten back to her priorform in high school where she became one of the top recruits in the country. This is her 2nd year at A&M, though she redshirted last year.
The Aggies very nearly had a third in, but senior Rita Medrano was just shy, and finished 9th in 1:55.33. Cal got another great swim from Shelley Harper to nab a B-Final in 1:55.63, and USC’s Amanda Smith also picked up an important B-Final swim in 1:55.68.
Women’s 400 Free Relay
Georgia, again on the strength of a Megan Romano anchor as we’ve seen throughout this meet, came back to take the top seed in this 400 free relay in 3:12.74. Romano’s anchor split was a 46.71, but she’s been slow-playing morning splits on these relays the whole meet (though this is the first time in three chances that it hasn’t cost them a spot in the A-Final). This meet could end similarly to last year’s, with Georgia taking the win in the last race, but Cal taking the trophy. To do so, though, they’ll need a better split from Melanie Margalis on the relay’s 3rd leg.
The second seed will be Stanford in 4:13.46, with a quartet of 48’s from this morning to work off of. Maddy Schaeffer on the leadoff and Betsy Webb on the anchor are both capable of better, however; as is Murez on the 2nd leg (as demonstrated in the individual race). They seem like the best chance to challenge Georgia for this title, though 4th-seeded Cal (3:13.80) will make at least one big swap in finals to add Sara Isakovic onto the relay, where she’ll have the platform finals to rest after her 200 fly. That gives them a chance as well.
Auburn, without Anna Vanderpool-Wallace, still took the 5th seed in 3:14.07, but should be in the 3:12 range in finals. Florida took the top-seed in the B-Final in 3:15, and if they can hold that it would be a big positive for them.
Maryland’s A-relay was DQ’ed.
Full, Live Results available here. The push for the Championship will kick off tonight at 8 Eastern Time, on ESPN3.com (their online channel).