Earlier this year we took a look at how several British swimmers were faring thus far during their NCAA debuts this season. Now that several conference championships have concluded, let’s review their performances and where they’ve landed now that the final weeks of the college season are upon us. As a reminder, even though some swimmers are listed as a class above freshman, they are still first-year NCAA swimmers.
We’ll publish a 2nd edition of this piece once the remaining conference championships have concluded.
Layla Black, University of Florida
The City of Leeds swimmer-turned Florida Gator entered the SEC Championships in the women’s 100 breast, 200 breast and 200 IM, with her 200 breast time of 2:11.47 NCAA B cut claiming her highest seed of 10th.
However, things didn’t go as planned for the freshman, as she wound up adding time in this event at the championships, clocking 2:12.29 in prelims and ultimately 2:14.22 to place 6th in the C-Final. That positioned her as 22nd overall when all was said and done, but she still earned a valuable 3 points for Florida.
Black did bump herself up in the standings for the 200 IM, entering with a 2:05.67 season-best to claim the 71st seed, but dipping under 2:05 with a 2:04.75 for 60th place after prelims at Gabrielsen Natatorium.
In the 100 breast Black also improved, entering as the 24th seed in 1:01.93, already an NCAA B cut time. She finished 5th in the C-Final to slide up a few spots from her seed to 21st with a faster effort of 1:01.75. That also added 4 points for Florida.
Earning a total of 1,023.5 points, the University of Florida women were SEC Championship runners-up, the program’s highest finish since 2011.
Final Tally: 2 x individual C-Final appearances, NCAA B cut in the 100 breast, NCAA B cut in the 200 breast, 7 individual points at SEC Championships
Anna Hopkin, University of Arkansas
Hailing from one of the most prestigious training hotbeds in the UK, Bath University, Hopkin had already been making an impact on the NCAA scene in her home of Arkansas. Entering the SEC Championships, Hopkin held the 2nd seed in the 50 free in 21.64, an NCAA A cut. She held the #1 seed in the 100 free in 47.05, also an NCAA A cut. Both times also represented Razorback school records.
For Hopkin, however, Tennessee’s Erika Brown proved too much to overcome in both the sprint events at the SEC Championships. Hopkin dropped her 50 free lifetime best down to 21.58 to earn silver to Brown’s enormous 21.15 for a big-time 28 points. Hopkin also hit a near-PB in the 100 free final, clocking 47.10 to finish behind Brown’s 46.41 to rack up another 28 points for the Razorbacks.
In between these events, on day 3, Hopkin scratched the 100 fly in order to focus on the 200 free. She already holds an NCAA B cut in the 100 fly of 52.61. After sneaking into the A-Final of the 100m fly with an 8th-seeded prelims mark of 1:45.78, Hopkin ripped a new personal best of 1:44.56 to snag 5th place and capture 25 points for Arkansas. Her mark also checks-in as a new Razorback record.
Hopkin was a crucial component of Arkansas’ relays as well, helping her school take 6th in the 200 medley relay, 4th in the 200 free relay and 3rd in the 400 free relay, all in school record-setting times.
Overall, Hopkin helped Arkansas finish in 8th place with a totla of 517, representing the schools’ highest finish in 5 years.
Final Tally: 3 x individual A-Final appearances, 2 x individual Arkansas school records, 3 x relay finals, NCAA A cuts in 50 & 100 free, NCAA B cuts in 200 free & 100 fly, 81 individual points at SEC Championships
Tori Sopp, Drury
Wallasey, England native Sopp raced her way to ‘Freshman of the Year’ honors at the Great Lakes Valley Conference Championships due to 3 individual victories. Sopp nailed new conference records in the 400 IM (4:15.59) and 200 fly (1:57.97) to wrangle up 40 individual points for Drury in her pet events. Her time in the 200 fly represents a Division II A cut.
Sopp also made waves in the 200 IM where she took silver in a mark of 2:00.52 for another 17 points, while capturing 100 free gold in 50.63 for 20 additional points.
Relays-wise, Sopp was a big-time contributor to Drury’s first place finishing 400 free relay, 400 medley relay and 800 free relay.
Final Tally: 3 x individual GLVC titles, 3 x relay GLVC titles, 1 x Division II A cut, 1 x Freshman of the Year Award, 2 x GLVC records
Elloise Clements, Oakland
At the time of our first article, Clements sat among the top 10 200 flyers in the Horizon League. However, the former Thanet Swim Club athlete no longer appears on the Grizzlies’ roster.
Remaining yet to swim at conference championships: