This was a huge year for freshman women at the NCAA Division I Championships. There was Stanford’s Ella Eastin, setting new U.S. Open, American, and NCAA records in the 200 IM (1:51.65); winning the championship in the 400 IM; and taking the silver in the 200 fly. There was Indiana’s Lilly King, taking triple U.S. Open, American, and NCAA records in both the 100 breast and 200 breast events. Even in diving, Nevada freshman Sharae Zheng swept the 1 meter and 3 meter events. Outside of first place, a score of freshmen were able to take individual silver or bronze medals: Kathleen Baker, Kirsten Vose, Mallory Comerford, Miranda Tucker, Rose Bi, and Elois Belanger.
And the talent is going to keep on rolling in. 23 girls aged 17 and younger have swam times fast enough to score at this weekend’s NCAA Division I Championships.
|Claire Adams||17||Carmel Swim Club||2016: Texas|
|Margaret Aroesty||16||Long Island Aquatic Club||2017-2018|
|Zoe Bartel||15||Fort Collins Area Swim Team||2018-2019|
|Cassidy Bayer||16||Nation’s Capital||2018-2019|
|Megan Byrnes||17||Nation’s Capital||2016: Stanford|
|Lauren Case||17||Chattahoochee Gold||2016: Texas|
|Joy Field||17||Magnolia Aquatic Club||2017-2018|
|Brooke Forde||17||Lakeside Aquatic Club||2017-2018|
|Madison Homovich||15||North Carolina Aquatic Club||2018-2019|
|Isabel Ivey||15||Gator Swim Club||2018-2019|
|Hannah Kukurugya||17||Crown Point Swim Club||2017-2018|
|Dakota Luther||16||Austin Swim Club||2018-2019|
|Stanzi Moseley||17||Unattached||2016: USC|
|Beata Nelson||17||Madison Aquatic Club||2016: Wisconsin|
|Grace Oglesby||17||Cardinal Aquatics||2016: Louisville|
|Taylor Pike||16||Razorback Aquatic Club||2017-2018|
|Nikol Popov||16||Canyon Aquatics||2017-2018|
|Allie Raab||15||Nashville Aquatic Club||2018-2019|
|Ashlyn Schoof||17||Schroeder YMCA||2017-2018|
|Erica Sullivan||15||Sandpipers of Nevada||2018-2019|
|Tatum Wade||17||Nashville Aquatic Club||2016: USC|
|Alex Walsh||14||Nashville Aquatic Club||2020-2021|
|Grace Zhao||16||Palo Alto Stanford||2017-2018|
For example, Margaret Aroesty would have taken eighth in the 100 breast with her NAG record 58.98 from NCSA Junior Championships this weekend. Brooke Forde could have scored seventh in the 400 IM with her 4:07.49 from this year’s Junior Nationals. 14-year-old powerhouse Alex Walsh would have taken sixth place in the 100 back with her 51.62, 10th in the 200 back with 1:52.07, and 13th in the 200 IM with 1:56.20.
In addition, 15-year-old Taylor Ruck would have won the ‘B’ final of the 200 free in 1:44.39. Claire Adams would have made the ‘B’ final of the 100 back with her Indiana High School State time of 51.65. Stanzi Moseley‘s 1:44.51 in the 200 free would have won her the ‘B’ final, and Beata Nelson could have scored points in the 50 free ‘B’ final with 22.08. Nelson also would have tied with Elizabeth Pelton for 12th in the 200 back. Megan Byrnes would have squeaked into 14th place in the mile with 16:06.61, and Erica Sullivan would have come in ahead of her in 11th with 16:02.32. Nikol Popov would have grabbed 11th in the 100 breast with 59.69, and Zoe Bartel would have been close behind in 59.84. Cassidy Bayer would have scored 12th in the 200 breast with 1:55.20, with Dakota Luther alongside her in 1:55.60.
And, while this list certainly demonstrates some of the young talent on the age group scene, it doesn’t even account for swimmers who are 18 or 19 and will be starting off their freshman year next fall. The most notable (and, arguably, the most notable female swimmer of our time), Katie Ledecky, celebrated her 19th birthday three days ago and will start up at Stanford this coming fall, after deferring her enrollment to focus on Rio. Even though the NCAA women’s scene will lose senior talent like Brittany MacLean, Kelsi Worrell, Rachel Bootsma, and Courtney Bartholomew this season, it’s safe say we have exciting NCAA Championships to look forward to in the years to come.