Emma Sticklen Wins 200 Fly NCAA Title In Thrilling Finish, #4 Performer Ever (1:49.95)


With an incredible finish, Texas’s Emma Sticklen became the first swimmer in her school’s history to win a 200 fly NCAA title, doing so in a time of 1:49.95. That time makes her the fourth-fastest performer ever, and also the fourth woman in history to go under the 1:50-point barrier.

This swim was a huge personal best for Sticklen, as coming into the meet she had only been as faster as 1:51.37.

All-Time Top Performers, Women’s 200-Yard Fly

  1. Ella Eastin, Stanford — 1:49.51 (2021)
  2. Regan Smith, Stanford — 1:49.78 (2021)
  3. Elaine Breeden, Stanford — 1:49.92 (2009)
  4. Emma Sticklen, Texas — 1:49.95 (2023)
  5. Alex Walsh, Virginia — 1:50.23 (2023)

Alex Walsh had taken out the race extremley fast, and was leading Sticklen by a body length at the halfway mark. However, Sticklen came up on Walsh during the last 50 yards, finishing 0.28 seconds ahead of the defending national champion and outsplitting her by over two seconds on the back half of her race. Walsh had a big swim as well, swimming a 1:50.23 to become the fifth-fastest performer ever. She was also considerably faster than the 1:50.79 she clocked to win the NCAA title last year.

Look at their splits in the table down below.

Comparative Splits:

Emma Sticklen, 2023 NCAA Championships Alex Walsh, 2023 NCAA Championships
50y 24.18 24.18
100y 28.35 (52.53) 26.39 (50.57)
150y 28.63 29.26
200y 28.79 (57.42) 30.40 (59.66)
Total 1:49.95 1:50.23

Race Video:

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7 days ago

Bet Alex was wishing she’d chosen the 500(or 200) free during that last lap

Seth Huston
7 days ago

Congrats to Emma! What an inspiring swim. Her pure, raw emotion upon winning was as awesome as her race.

Pure speculation here, but if you asked Emma, what event will you be NCAA champion, as a recruit, I bet it wasn’t the 200 fly, so Cudo’s to her coaches, Carol and Mitch on selling and training Emma to accomplish this championship.

7 days ago

That was inspiring. Couldn’t you just feel Alex’s agony in the last few strokes and Emma’s determination on the last 25? Great battle

7 days ago

Sticklen had fantastic splits. Amazing for a 2Fl

Awsi Dooger
7 days ago

You don’t see a Virginia swimmer lose a race based on turns and underwaters too often. But I think that’s what happened here. Even though Walsh led throughout I kept noting that Sticklen was surfacing much later off every wall. It led to an accumulation of stored energy and therefore a fantastic late change of pace and fortune. Walsh maintained the same familiar stroke rate and style while Sticklen after surfacing on the final 25 had more rapid turnover rate than the 1976 Buccaneers.

One of the memorable performances of the meet.

7 days ago

There were some terrific races over 4 days. This was one of them for sure.

7 days ago

The second 50 split for Walsh is not accurate. Taking a watch to the video, seems more like a 27.3 (which also makes sense when you think both Kate Douglas and Maggie MacNeil came back in 25.9 in their 100 fly yesterday, so a 26.3 is just absurd for a 2nd 50 in a 200 fly!).

About Yanyan Li

Yanyan Li

Although Yanyan wasn't the greatest competitive swimmer, she learned more about the sport of swimming through scoring countless dual meets, being a timer, and keeping track of her teammates' best times for three years as a team manager. She eventually ventured into the realm of writing and joined SwimSwam in …

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