NCAA Championship meets are full of fun facts and tidbits, and while we try to work them all into our various recaps and real-time articles, sometimes there are just too many to fit into those spaces.
In that honor, we have gone through the top 12 women’s teams from the NCAA Championship meet and put together our favorite stat or two from their performance. While not every team will have left the meet happy with their final finish, every team has something interesting, something historical, something fast to hang their hat on as they leave the meet, if they dig hard enough.
That’s the lesson that many of us have learned over the last year, searching for a silver lining in an endless pool of clouds.
Many of these stats were hand-compiled, hand-counted, and hand-checked. We’re counting on you to let us know if we mis-counted! Let us know in the comments below.
Firsts, Fasts, and Anomalies from the 2021 NCAA Women’s Swimming & Diving Championships
1. Virginia – The easiest superlatives to write. The first NCAA title in program history, the first NCAA title in ACC Conference history, a swimmer in every A final of the meet, and a simply dominant performance, winning by 137 points. It’s simple, but when you’re the title-holders, that first title is a no-brainer for the best stat.
2. NC State – The highest finish in program history, and were it not for Virginia’s win it would be the highest finish in ACC Championship history.
3. Texas – The Texas Longhorns had their best NCAA Championship finish of the Carol Capitani era (hired in June 2012). In fact, this finish for Texas, boosted by a big effort from their freshman class, is their first top 3 finish since 2001.
4. Cal – The Cal women won their 5th 200 free relay in 6 seasons, and the Cal women earned their 15th-straight top 5 finish at the NCAA Championships. That’s the longest active women’s D1 streak in the country by a wide margin. After Stanford finished 9th, snapping a 6-season run, the next-longest active top 5 streak in the country is 2, by the University of Texas.
5. Alabama – The Crimson Tide’s 5th-place finish matched their 5th-place finish from 1983 as the best in program history, and they closed the meet with their first-ever women’s relay title. Someone even bought them a billboard to celebrate.
6. Michigan – The Michigan Wolverines have had a lot of great swimmers in their history, and the NCAA has had a lot of great 100 freestyle/100 butterfly swimmers in its history (Dana Vollmer, Natalie Coughlin, Kelsi Worrell, Mallory Comerford, Erika Brown). But Maggie MacNeil may be Michigan’s best-ever, and this week she became the first swimmer since all-time legend Dara Torres in 1988 to win the 100 free and 100 fly at the same NCAA Championship meet.
7. Ohio State – For the first time in school history, both the Ohio State men and Ohio State women placed in the top 10 at the NCAA Championships in the same season. The Buckeye women’s finish of 7th was 3 places higher than their previous best-ever finish (1983), building on a run of two straight Big Ten Titles.
8. Georgia – The Georgia women earned their 29th top-10 finish in program history, led by sophomore Zoie Hartman. Besides being the school record holder in the 100 breaststroke (Hartman set that record at SECs in 57.40), she was also Georgia’s fastest 800 free relay split by a wide margin (1:42.89) and their fastest 400 free relay split (47.51). Of the 15 women who have been under 58 seconds in the 100 breaststroke, we couldn’t find any who had a relay split as fast as her 47.51. While there are a number of capable freestyle sprinters on that list, the only swimmer close is NC State’s Sophie Hansson, who won the 100 breaststroke at NCAAs and split 47.80 on NC State’s 400 free relay.
9. Stanford – This was a tough year for the three-time defending champions, between redshirts, deferrals, and injuries. But senior Brooke Forde did join an illustrious class of Stanford swimmers to have won the women’s 400 IM as part of the best 400 IM legacy in the country. All told, they’ve won 13 out of the 37 400 yard IMs in D1 Women’s NCAA Championship history, which comes out to over 35 % of the titles available. No other school has been that dominant across a single individual event – the next-best is Stanford’s 12 all-time titles in the 200 butterfly. Stanford also holds the best total across all events – with 14 total 200 medley relay titles.
10. Tennessee – Last year’s SEC Champions, who didn’t get the chance to back it up at NCAAs, Volunteer freshman Mona McSharry picked up individual First Team All-America honors in the 100 breast (4th – 57.80) and 200 breast (3rd – 2:05.01). According to Tennessee school records, that makes her just the 3rd Volunteer to grab two individual First Team All-America honors as a freshman, joining Stephanie Brinser (1989) and Leslie Mix (1994).
11. Kentucky – After winning this year’s SEC title, the Kentucky women finished 11th at NCAAs – the highest finish in program history (clearing their 12th-place slot from 2007). That they did so after graduating Asia Seidt and Ali Galyer, two of the most accomplished swimmers in program history, makes it even more stunning.
12. North Carolina – Mark Gangloff righted this ship in a hurry, especially after missing a huge chunk of his points at the ACC Championships because of COVID protocols. That effort was boosted by freshman diver Aranza Vazquez-Montano, who was 2nd on 1-meter, 2nd on 3-meter, and 6th on platform, scoring 47 total points. It’s exceedingly rare for a freshman diver to score in all three disciplines, let alone score that high (which, historically, is pretty rare for divers of any age). In fact, the last time we could find a freshman who scored that many points at the NCAA Championships in diving was way back in 2002, when USC freshman Blythe Hartley won the 1-meter, placed 3rd on 3-meter, and won platform for 56 individual points. Hartley, a Canadian, was the first woman ever that year to win the 1-meter and platform events in the same year, and she was named the NCAA Diver of the Year for that effort.