Disclaimer: BlueSeventy 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 BlueSeventy Swim 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.
Notoriously one of the fastest meets of the NCAA regular season, the SMU Classic produced too many great swims to pare immediately down to one for our featured Swim of the Week. So in the spirit of the meet’s classic 8-on-8 roster format, we’re putting together a countdown of the 8 biggest winners of this year’s women’s SMU Classic:
#8: Riley Scott
Lost in the shuffle of big freestyle swims was USC breaststroker Riley Scott, who became the first woman this year to break a minute in the 100 breast. She leads the NCAA ranks by almost a full second there, and sits second in the 200 behind only freshman teammate Maggie Aroesty. Scott was only six tenths off her lifetime-best 100 and about 1.8 seconds off her career-best 200, a great start for the Trojan junior.
#7: Louisville Relays
The bright spot for Louisville in our preseason coverage has been the Cardinals’ relay core, which scored major points despite being exceedingly young at last year’s NCAA Championships. Maybe most exciting were the 200 and 400 free relays, which made the NCAA’s top 8 with three freshmen and a sophomore.
Louisville won 3 of 4 relays at the SMU Classic, including a return of that 200 free relay in 1:28.72. That blew out the field and is only a little more than a second off of the team’s time from NCAAs a year ago. It’s also only three tenths slower than the team’s NCAA entry time last year, meaning Louisville could enter NCAAs well ahead of where it was a year ago when the team finished 6th. The team at SMU was remarkably consistent, with four 22-lows: Mallory Comerford led off in 22.04 and Casey Fanz was 22.08 on the anchor leg.
#6: Louise Hansson
Hansson had perhaps the busiest schedule of any swimmer in Dallas this weekend. Friday night, she won the 100 fly in a nation-leading 51.56, then came back in the very next event to push for a backstroke win in 52.79, finishing just two tenths behind Michigan’s Clara Smiddy. The next day, a fresh Hansson topped Smiddy 1:52.26 to 1:52.52 in the 200 back, with times leading the nation by a full second. Then Hansson also won the 200 IM in a nation-leading 1:55.80.
On relays, Hansson was also 22.74 from a flat start in the 200 free relay and 1:46.08 anchoring the 800 free relay, with both relay swims coming at the end of three-event nights.
#5: USC freshmen
We’ve noted preseason that USC’s freshman class is small but mighty, and they’ve already started pulling their weight for the Trojans. Freshman Maggie Aroesty hit a nation-leading 200 breast (2:08.01) to win the B final, beating even her A final teammate Scott. She was also 1:00.46 to win the B final of the 100 breast. Meanwhile rookie sprinter Marta Ciesla won the 50 free in 22.63 and took third in the 100 free (49.56).
We could even rename this bullet point “USC Youth.” The Trojans have only two seniors this year and loads of young talent, which could make for an exciting team to watch the next few seasons.
#4: Siobhan Haughey
Siobhan Haughey‘s great swims were all hidden behind our #3 on this list (no spoilers!), but that doesn’t make them any less impressive. 1:42.44 in the 200 is no joke. 47.22 in the 100 free is a lifetime-best, a Michigan school record and a Big Ten Conference record for the junior from Hong Kong. Haughey also had a stellar 200 breast race (2:08.92), outperforming Michigan’s blue-chip transfer addition, former NCAA runner-up Miranda Tucker (2:09.87).
Plus Haughey added killer relay splits of 46.76 in the 100 free, 1:44.36 in the 200 free and 22.36 in a leadoff 50 free for one of the fastest-rising teams in the NCAA this season.
#3: Mallory Comerford
There’s no denying just how good Comerford was this weekend. 1:41.70 in the 200 free is one of the top times ever swum. It’s within a second and a half of what Comerford went in tying Katie Ledecky for the NCAA title last year, and it beat last year’s third-place finisher by seven tenths of a second. Then there’s 47.00 in the 100 free (would have been 5th at NCAAs last year) and a 4:39.24 in the 500 that shows impressive range.
Comerford also split 50.73 in a 100 fly, led off a 1:43.33 in the 800 free relay and led off that 22.04 in the 200 free relay to lead a Louisville team that finished second overall by just half a point.
#2: NCAA Qualifiers
Many fans are scratching heads and wondering why teams would suit up and swim so fast in October. But the true winners of this meet are the athletes who have already booked themselves NCAA invites – that gives those swimmers and their coaches infinite flexibility in training cycles for the next six months. They could taper down and swim fast again for a mid-season invite, then train through conference. They could train hard through the holiday season and try to hit it big at the conference level. Or they could put together almost five months of straight training, saving a full taper for the NCAA Championship meet.
Here’s a list of all the swimmers at the SMU Classic who swam a time faster than the NCAA invite time from a year ago in their event:
- Maggie Aroesty, USC – 400 IM (4:10.18), 200 breast (2:08.01)
- Mallory Comerford, Louisville – 200 free (1:41.70), 500 free (4:39.24), 100 free (47.00)
- Siobhan Haughey, Michigan – 200 free (1:42.44), 200 breast (2:08.92), 100 free (47.22)
- Louise Hansson, USC – 100 fly (51.56), 200 back (1:52.26), 200 IM (1:55.80)
- Clara Smiddy, Michigan – 100 back (52.55), 200 back (1:52.52), 200 IM (1:56.97)
- Riley Scott, USC – 100 breast (59.56), 200 breast (2:08.20)
- Rose Bi, Michigan – 500 free (4:40.37)
- Becca Postoll, Michigan – 500 free (4:41.32)
- Miranda Tucker, Michigan – 200 breast (2:09.87)
- Alina Kendzior, Louisville – 200 back (1:53.78)
- Maddie Wright, USC – 200 fly (1:54.97)
- Grace Oglesby, Louisville – 200 fly (1:55.05)
- Rachael Bradford-Feldman – 200 IM (1:57.55)
Obviously, not all of these times guarantee a 2018 NCAA invite, as the field continues to get faster every year. But at minimum, these swims put each swimmer in great shape to qualify, and many of them will turn out to be fast enough to earn an NCAA bid come March.
#1: Swimming Fans
There are no bigger winners, though, than fans of swimming. In October, historically a bit of a dull time for fast swimming, we got to read headlines about 1:41 200 frees, about twin 47-low 100s, about a quintet of sub-2:10 breaststrokers. And we got treated to an exciting half-point team finish in a thrilling sprint format meet featuring some of the NCAA’s best. Fans are certainly welcome to question the merits of swimming so fast in October (though many would argue that it’s never a bad time to swim fast), but there is no arguing that the SMU Classic made last weekend a much more fun one to follow for swimming fans everywhere.
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