Conference Champs Have No Issues Dropping From Seed in 800 Free Relay at NCAAs


The first NCAA Division I final since 2019 is done and dusted, with the majority of teams dropping time from their seeds.

Notably, coming off of emphatic conference titles with season bests were Kentucky and Ohio State, the Wildcats cutting 1.56 off of their seed time and the Buckeyes slashing 2.97 off of theirs. Kentucky, who wasn’t seeded in the top-four and swam in heat four of five, defeated Stanford, Georgia and Florida in their heat, putting up a time that would go on to place second overall with all of the heats done. OSU, meanwhile, vaulted up from 15th to seventh with their drop, a big points gain for them.

Kentucky’s Riley Gaines was the fastest split on their relay as she was at SECs, a few tenths slower tonight but still 1:42.8. Izzy Gati was 1:44.27 leading off, her first time under 1:45, while Sophie Sorenson and Kaitlynn Wheeler turned in 1:44.9s after only splitting 1:45 at SECs. For OSU, Kristen Romano was under 1:45 tonight at 1:44.83, faster than at Big Tens, while Sally Tafuto was the big improvement, splitting 1:44.98, almost two seconds better than she was at Big Tens.

ACC Champions Virginia also dropped big time, going nearly two seconds quicker than they did at ACCs, while Big 12 champions Texas took 1.2 off of their seed. Virginia’s big split was Paige Madden‘s field-best 1:41.63, while Texas swapped out Olivia Bray for Kyla Leibel. Leibel split a few tenths better than Bray did at Big 12s, while Evie Pfeifer was over a second quicker tonight than she was at Big 12s.

The only power 5 conference champ to gain time was Cal, who was 1.63 seconds slower than their time from the Pac-12 Championships. They chose not to use Isabel Ivey here, and still managed a third-place finish. Only Ayla Spitz split faster tonight than at Pac-12s on this relay as she was 1:43.87 on the second leg.

Quick Stats

Thanks to SwimSwam’s Barry Revzin for the numbers

  • 11 out of 17 teams dropped from seed (11/20 did so in 2019)
  • Mean drop/gain (all teams): +0.03
  • Median drop/gain (all teams): -0.45
  • Mean drop (teams that dropped time): -1.33
  • Mean gain (teams that gained time): +2.51
  • Biggest drop: Ohio State (-2.97)
  • Biggest gain: NC State (+6.41)

While Ohio State was the big drop, NC State was the huge gain, as they swapped out their fastest ACC relay splits, Kylee Alons (1:44.25) and Katharine Berkoff (1:43.72) with flying starts.

Their replacements were Abby Arens (1:46.62) and Emma Muzzy (1:48.01), while Julia Poole was about a second slower leading off tonight (1:45.75) than she was at ACCs and Kate Moore split more than a second quicker tonight (1:44.53). Arens split over a second faster than her lifetime best, while Muzzy’s lifetime best in the flat-start 200 free is a 1:50.67; Muzzy’s 200 back is also better than her 200 free, at 1:50.12.


Virginia Madden 1:41.63
Kentucky Gaines 1:42.81
Georgia Hartman 1:42.89
Texas A&M Stepanek 1:42.89 Y
Texas Pash 1:43.07 Y
Virginia Nelson 1:43.11
Virginia Walsh 1:43.18
Stanford Forde 1:43.34
Florida Bates 1:43.70 Y
Alabama Dupre 1:43.77
Virginia Tech Gyorgy 1:43.82
Cal Spitz 1:43.87
Texas Pfeifer 1:44.00
Cal Neumann 1:44.09 Y
Cal Wilson 1:44.12
Alabama Scott 1:44.15 Y
Kentucky Gati 1:44.27 Y
NC State Moore 1:44.53
Virginia Valls 1:44.64 Y
Georgia Harnish 1:44.71 Y
Ohio State Romano 1:44.83 Y
Tennessee Pintar 1:44.89
Louisville Hetrick 1:44.90
Tennessee Rothrock 1:44.94
Wisconsin Bacon 1:44.96
Kentucky Sorenson 1:44.97
Kentucky Wheeler 1:44.97
Cal Klinker 1:44.98
Ohio State Tafuto 1:44.98
Texas Cook 1:45.03
Indiana Kirkpatrick 1:45.03
Wisconsin Hosack 1:45.08 Y
Texas Leibel 1:45.11
Georgia Parker 1:45.11
Michigan Schmidt 1:45.13
Stanford Tankersley 1:45.14
Louisville Kraus 1:45.31 Y
Ohio State Fulmer 1:45.42
Indiana Grote 1:45.43 Y
Michigan Carter 1:45.44
Michigan Housey 1:45.45 Y
Ohio State Trace 1:45.56
Louisville Sumida 1:45.60
Florida Golding 1:45.62
Virginia Tech Atkinson 1:45.72 Y
NC State Poole 1:45.75 Y
Alabama Antoniou 1:45.79
Michigan Glass 1:45.79
Wisconsin Palmer 1:45.80
Indiana Eiber 1:45.88
Florida Miller 1:45.90
Texas A&M Quah 1:45.95
Indiana Peplowski 1:46.08
Florida Mack 1:46.21
Stanford Raab 1:46.28 Y
Stanford Pitzer 1:46.29
Virginia Tech Shackelford 1:46.33
Tennessee Yager 1:46.36 Y
NC State Arens 1:46.60
Texas A&M Theil 1:46.60
Alabama Gracie Felner 1:46.67
Wisconsin Ecker 1:46.79
Virginia Tech Vos 1:46.86
Louisville Dunn 1:46.93
Texas A&M Toney 1:47.04
Georgia Reinstein 1:47.11
Tennessee Nguyen 1:47.89
NC State Muzzy 1:48.01

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6 months ago

Too much time spent on the last-place squad there….

6 months ago

-Hartman dropped from her SECs split of 1:43.54 with a 1:42.89. She split 1:42.2 in 2020, but this is a sign that she hit her taper.
-Harnish had a bit of a disappointing swim, 1:44.74, but she led off in 1:42.96 at SECs.
-Same goes with Forde. We thought she might have been doing a big focus for NCAAs. Can they both turn it around and have good swims later on?
-This sets it up for a good 400 IM battle: Forde is seeded first, but after Ella Nelson split 4 tenths faster than ACCs, can she possibly take it?

Last edited 6 months ago by swimfan210_

About Karl Ortegon

Karl Ortegon

Karl Ortegon studied sociology at Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT, graduating in May of 2018. He began swimming on a club team in first grade and swam four years for Wesleyan.

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