Cal Breaststroker Ali Harrison Will Transfer to Duke for 5th Year

Ali Harrison, a former standout at Cal, will use her 5th year of NCAA eligibility as a grad transfer across the country at Duke.

Harrison will take advantage of the NCAA’s waiver that allows all athletes who competed in the 2020-2021 season an additional year of eligibility because of the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic. While the list of swimmers and divers who are using this waiver is growing, Harrison is the highest-profile swimmer so far to announce that she will use her 5th year and transfer to another school.

That’s significant because if an athlete transfers for that 5th year, their scholarship counts against the maximum 14 scholarships per women’s team or 9.9 scholarships per men’s team. For the 2021-2022 season, 5th years who stay at their previous institution don’t count against the school’s scholarship limit.

After the 2021-2022 season, all athletes who competed last year will still be eligible for a 5th year, but their scholarships will count against the limit regardless of whether they transfer or not.

Harrison says that she will receive an athletic scholarship at Duke. The move will be a big transition for her to the east coast after growing up and attending undergrad in California.

Harrison has completed her undergraduate degree in American Studies at Cal and has been accepted into Duke’s Fuqua School of Business.

Harrison says she’s looking forward to continuing to study at Duke, while simultaneously thanking Cal for her four years there.

“My love and gratitude for your continued support of my goals and dreams cannot be stated in words,” she said of her former program. “A huge thank you to the Duke coaches and the swim and dive team who have allowed me to partake in this next journey. I cannot wait to see what Durham has in store. Go Duke!”

Harrison finished her senior year at Cal ranked 4th all-time in the 100 breaststroke in school history at 59.52 and 5th all-time in the 200 breaststroke in school history in 2:10.21. She was also a co-captain for the 2020-2021 season that saw the Cal women place 4th at the NCAA Championship meet.

During her senior year, Harrison finished in 6th place at the Pac-12 Championships in both the 100 and 200 yard breaststrokes. She was also 14th in the 100 fly.

She raced at the NCAA Championships as a freshman in 2018 and a sophomore in 2019. In 2018, she placed 24th in the 100 breast and 26th in the 200 breast and in 2019 she placed 46th in the 100 breast and 57th in the 200 breast.

Harrison also qualified for the 2020 NCAA Championships in the 100 and 200 breaststrokes, but that meet was ultimately canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Time Progression at Cal:

Best Time Before Cal Best Time at Cal
100 breast 1:00.80 59.52
200 breast 2:13.53 2:10.21
100 fly 54.94 53.32
100 free 49.87 52.76
200 IM 2:03.89 2:00.84

At Cal, one of the deepest programs in the country, Harrison focused mainly on her individual events. At Duke, though, she has the potential to make a much bigger impact in her one season there.

Her best time in the 100 breaststroke is half-a-second faster than Duke’s school record, while her best in the 200 breaststroke would rank #3 in school history.

But she’ll also head to Durham with a 100 fly best time that would have ranked 2nd on the Duke roster last season, and a best 100 free time that would’ve ranked 3rd on the Duke roster last season, meaning she could be in line for more relay opportunities.

The Duke women finished 6th out of 12 teams at the 2021 ACC Championship meet.


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go bears
3 years ago

That makes two graduate transfers in the Cal women’s swimming class of 2021! Go Bears!

Reply to  go bears
3 years ago

Who is the other?

3 years ago

Congratulations! Go chase those goals and dreams.

3 years ago

Conrats Ali! All the best in NC. Good luck in chasing new records!

3 years ago

Congratulations! Very impressive 🙂

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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