First Annual SwimSwam NCAA Division 1 Women’s Preseason Picks

by Robert Gibbs 54

October 13th, 2017 News

In our addition to our new power rankings format, we’re trying out something else new this year: NCAA pre-season predictions.

Like any other sports fans, swimming fans enjoy making their predictions about upcoming events, or even whole seasons.  Followers of sports like baseball or football will be familiar with writers from major sports publications making their preseason predictions about Most Valuable Players, World Series or Super Bowl champions, and the like.

Well, we’re not quite still in the college swimming preseason as some teams have started competition, but even some of the major Division I squads haven’t yet had their first official meet, so we figured it’s still early enough to call these “preseason” picks.

We polled our staff, did our research, and came up with our six-months-out best guesses as to who would be standing atop the awards podium for each event at the 2018 NCAA Division I championships, and without any further ado, here’s our choices by writer:

Braden Lauren Jared James Hannah Morgan Karl Robert Top Pick
800 Free Relay Stanford Stanford Stanford Stanford Stanford Stanford Stanford Stanford Stanford
200 Free Relay Louisville Stanford NC State Cal Cal Stanford Stanford Stanford Stanford
500 Free Katie Ledecky (Stanford) Katie Ledecky (Stanford) Katie Ledecky (Stanford) Katie Ledecky (Stanford) Katie Ledecky (Stanford) Katie Ledecky (Stanford) Katie Ledecky (Stanford) Katie Ledekcy (Stanford) Ledecky
200 IM Kathleen Baker (Cal) Ella Eastin (Stanford) Kathleen Baker (Cal) Kathleen Baker (Cal) Ella Eastin (Stanford) Ella Eastin (Stanford) Ella Eastin (Stanford) Kathleen Baker (Cal) Tie: Baker/Eastin
50 Free Simone Manuel (Stanford) Simone Manuel (Stanford) Simone Manuel (Stanford) Simone Manuel (Stanford) Simone Manuel (Stanford) Simone Manuel (Stanford) Simone Manuel (Stanford) Simone Manuel (Stanford) Manuel
400 Medley Relay Stanford Stanford Cal Cal Stanford Stanford Stanford Stanford Stanford
400 IM Katie Ledecky (Stanford) Ella Eastin (Stanford) Ella Eastin (Stanford) Sydney Pickrem (Texas A&M) Ella Eastin (Stanford) Ella Eastin (Stanford) Ella Eastin (Stanford) Ella Eastin (Stanford) Eastin
100 Fly Louise Hansson (USC) Louise Hansson (USC) Janet Hu (Stanford) Louise Hansson (USC) Louise Hansson (USC Louise Hansson (USC) Louise Hansson (USC) Louise Hansson (USC) Hansson
200 Free Mallroy Comerford (Louisville) Mallory Comerford (Louisville) Katie Ledecky (Stanford) Mallory Comerford (Louisville) Mallory Comerford (Louisville) Mallory Comerford (Louisville) Mallory Comerford (Louisville) Mallory Comerford (Louisville) Comerford
100 Breast Lilly King (Indiana) Lilly King (Indiana) Lilly King (Indiana) Lilly King (Indiana) Lilly King (Indiana) Lilly King (Indiana) Lilly King (Indiana) Lilly King (Indiana) King
100 Back Kathleen Baker (Cal) Kathleen Baker (Cal) Kathleen Baker (Cal) Kathleen Baker (Cal) Ally Howe (Stanford) Kathleen Baker (Cal) Ally Howe (Stanford) Kathleen Baker (Cal) Baker
200 Medley Relay Stanford Cal Cal Stanford Cal Cal Cal Cal  Cal
1650 Free Katie Ledecky (Stanford) Katie Ledecky (Stanford) Katie Ledecky (Stanford) Katie Ledecky (Stanford) Katie Ledecky (Stanford) Katie Ledecky (Stanford) Katie Ledecky (Stanford) Katie Ledecky (Stanford) Ledecky
200 Back Kathleen Baker (Cal) Kathleen Baker (Cal) Kathleen Baker (Cal) Kathleen Baker (Cal) Kathleen Baker (Cal) Kathleen Baker (Cal) Kathleen Baker (Cal) Kathleen Baker (Cal) Baker
100 Free Simone Manuel (Stanford) Simone Manuel (Stanford) Simone Manuel (Stanford) Simone Manuel (Stanford) Simone Manuel (Stanford) Simone Manuel (Stanford) Simone Manuel (Stanford) Simone Manuel (Stanford) Manuel
200 Breast Lilly King (Indiana) Lilly King (Indiana) Lilly King (Indiana) Lilly King (Indiana) Lilly King (Indiana) Lilly King (Indiana) Lilly King (Indiana) Lilly King (Indiana) King
200 Fly Ella Eastin (Stanford) Ella Eastin (Stanford) Ella Eastin (Stanford) Ella Eastin (Stanford) Ella Eastin (Stanford) Ella Eastin (Stanford) Ella Eastin (Stanford)  Ella Eastin (Stanford) Eastin
400 Free Relay Stanford Stanford Stanford Stanford Stanford Stanford Stanford  Stanford Stanford

Compared to our men’s picks, there was a lot more agreement among our staff, with the voting being unanimous in ten of 17 events .  If our collective crystal ball is correct, here will be some of the highlights of the 2018 Women’s NCAAs:

  • Kathleen Baker of California and Ella Eastin of Stanford would each win three events, including a tie in the 200 IM.
  • After tying last year, Louisville’s Mallory Comerford will win the 200 free outright, while Katie Ledecky will have to “settle” for victories only in the 500 free and 1650 free.
  • Continuing the Cardinal’s winning ways, Simone Manuel will sweep the sprint freestyle events.
  • Unsurprisingly, Indiana’s Lilly King will win both breaststroke events once again.
  • USC’s Louise Hansson will pick up a victory in the 100 fly.
  • Oh yeah, nearly forgot.  Someone named Katie Ledecky will win the 500 and 1650 freestyles.  Also note that at least one of writers thinks she’s going to go after the 400 IM instead of the 200 free.
  • Stanford will take four of the five relays, only missing out on the 200 medley relay victory, which will go to Cal.

Now, again, the above descriptions are only going best guesses as the season gets going.  Surely some swimmers will emerge, others may take some steps back, and other picks in March are going to look a lot different than they do now.  In the meantime, leave a comment and let us know what you think is going to happen.

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54 Comments on "First Annual SwimSwam NCAA Division 1 Women’s Preseason Picks"

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Wow picking comerford over ledecky almost unanimously is bold

AWSI DOOGER
That’s the single prediction that jumped out at me. I would root for Comerford but pick Ledecky. To go from afterthought to favorite is too much of an adjustment. Sports fans thrill to make adjustments, and to take a trend too far. Mallory Comerford is popular and a feel good story. There is seemingly a desperation to pick her to win something. Logically she shouldn’t be picked to win anything, not with Manuel and Ledecky still around. Comerford is better off the walls and underwater than Ledecky but it still doesn’t equate to more likely than not to defeat Ledecky at 200. Manuel could go either way at 200 this year. She could tire of all the effort required to… Read more »

Did Chalky McChalkChalk do all the voting?

If Ledecky is focusing on 200 this year, do you think she can break Missy’s American Record?

ArtVanDeLegh10

She doesn’t have the opening speed to go 1:39.1. You can’t go 1:39.1 without going out in 48mid to high, nad she can’t do that.

I don’t know if I’d be so sure of that. She’s been as fast as 48.2 individually and split 47.5 last year. Not to mention she already took out her 200 in 48.9 last year.

ArtVanDeLegh10

Yes she has been out at 48.9, but there’s a difference between a relatively comfortable 48.9 and a difficult 48.9. My guess is she would have finished her 2nd 100 better if she took her 1st 100 out a little easier. Swimmers don’t take out their 200 Free .7 slower than their best 100 Free, and finish their 2nd 100 strong.

That’s a fair point. I think she’ll have the ability to go 1:39-low, but easy speed will be a key factor in getting there.

ArtVanDeLegh10

If you think Ledecky could go 1:39 low, but picked Comerford to win it, what do you think Comerford can go?

I didn’t pick Comerford

ArtVanDeLegh10

My mistake. I quickly glanced at it, and thought it was unanimous for Comerford.

unless you’re katie ladecky

crooked donald

“Swimmers” does not equal Ledecky.

No

I’ll go contrarian on everyone and predict Ledecky starts adding on her swims. So I don’t think she will go much fast than 1:41.

I hate to say this, but I agree. Ever since she went to Greg, she is a different type of swimmer, not necessarily worse, just different.

ArtVanDeLegh10

I agree, but let’s give it another year. Sometimes a change of scenery is a good thing, sometimes it’s not. But one year is probably too soon to tell.

crooked donald

So Greg is the new McKeever. Well, I’m sure Teri is glad for that.

The only person that can comfortably go out that fast is the 100 free AR holder…. Simone Manual. Can she bring it home better than last year is the question? I do think there is a chance that Simone swims 50/100 free and the relays because Stanford won’t have Lia Neal.