Even without superstars and probable Olympians Missy Franklin, Katie Ledecky, Simone Manuel, and Abbey Weitzeil, all of whom rightfully could have been swimming at this meet, the 2016 women’s Pac-12 Championships saw a battle for the ages on Thursday evening in Federal Way.
Stanford’s Ella Eastin swam a 1:52.77 in the 200 yard IM, and Cal’s Kathleen Baker swam a 1:52.80 to not only dominate the field, but to simultaneously jump into the ranks of the all-time fastest 200 yard IM’s in history.
Only twice in history has one race seen this much speed in a single event: at the 2012 NCAA Championships in Auburn, where Caitlin Leverenz and Katinka Hosszu went head-to-head in the two fastest times ever (1:51.77 and 1:51.80, respectively); and at the 2014 NCAA Championships, where Maya DiRado and Melanie Margalis (1:52.50 and 1:52.64) also put in top-10 all-time performances.
The difference between those 4 swimmers and these two is that those 4 were classed as a junior and three seniors when they put in their all-time swims.
Eastin and Baker are merely freshmen.
Eastin, in fact, is still only 18 years old, which makes that a new National Age Group Record. It beats the 1:53.77 done by Katie Hoff in 2007.
The pair are almost painfully evenly-matched, and were never separated by more than .15 seconds at a 50 yard split.
- After fly: Eastin 24.46, Baker 24.50
- After back: Eastin 51.89, Baker 52.04
- After breast: Eastin 1:25.29, Baker 1:24.26
- After free: Eastin 1:52.77, Baker 1:52.80
Unlike some of the above swimmers, who were able to atone for their weaknesses with strengths in other strokes, Eastin and Baker are both four-stroke IM’ers, with no real weaknesses at all.
Eastin’s siwm is the 10th-best of all-time (7th-best swimmer), and Baker’s swim ties her teammate Liz Pelton as the 11th-best swim of all-time (8th-best swimmer).
The new 10 fastest 200 yard IM’ers in history:
- Caitlin Leverenz, 1:51.77 – 2012
- Katinka Hosszu, 1:51.80 – 2012
- Missy Franklin, 1:52.11 – 2015
- Julia Smit, 1:52.31 – 2010
- Maya DiRado, 1:52.50 – 2014
- Melanie Margalis, 1:52.64 – 2014
- Ella Eastin, 1:52.77 – 2016
- Kathleen Baker, 1:52.80 – 2016
- Liz Pelton, 1:52.80 – 2016
- Kathleen Hersey, 1:53.33 – 2009
Of note, each of the 10 swimmers above swam their best times while in college.
The 3rd-place finisher in the 200 IM, USC’s Kirsten Vose, is also a freshman – she swam 1:55.65.