The debate on whether Kate Douglass should swim the 200 IM or 50 free at 2023 NCAAs has been going on ever since short course worlds happened, but today, it went to a whole other level.
In Douglass’s 200 IM race at the 2023 ACC Championships, she swam a time of 1:50.15, missing Alex Walsh‘s US Open, NCAA, and American record time of 1:50.08 by just 0.07 seconds. Then, just 30 minutes later, Douglass got her 50 free NCAA/US Open/American record taken down by Gretchen Walsh, who swam 0.01 of a second faster than Douglass’s old mark. With Douglass being a combined 0.08 seconds away from the Walsh sister records, she’s going to have to make a big decision regarding which event to swim at NCAAs, as they both fall on day one of the meet.
Of course, the fact that Douglass is so close to both the 50 free and 200 IM records is a flex in itself—Caeleb Dressel remains the only swimmer in history, male or female, to have held the fastest times ever in both events. But NCAAs is (likely) Douglass’s last college meet ever, and she probably wants to come home with a title and a record in one event rather than being oh-so-close in both events and possibly swimming one of the fastest times in history and still coming in second (which seems to be a common theme in the NCAA nowadays).
So, what arguments can we make for both events? Let’s start with the 200 IM. My hot take about Kate Douglass and the 200 IM is that she can still swim so much better than she did tonight. Sure, 1:50.15 is still blazingly fast, but it’s less than a second faster than her best time of 1:50.92 from November 2020. November 2020—before Douglass became an Olympic medalist, set American records in three different strokes, and had eight NCAA titles. My point is, Douglass is a much faster swimmer than she was two seasons ago, and therefore I think she can be more than 0.77 seconds better than she was then in the 200 IM. In addition, Douglass dropped from a 2:04.24 to a 2:02.12 in the short course meters 200 IM from 2021 to 2022 (given, since she’s less experienced in SCM so she’s probably going drop more in her first few swims)—why can’t she do it in yards?
In addition, racing the 200 IM is the only way Douglass can get a shot at both records—she can still try and go for the 50 free record leading off the 200 free relay. That being said, if Douglass manages to break the 200 IM and 50 free records on the same day at NCAAs, that’s got to go down as one of the greatest performances in the history of the sport.
While I’m personally on “team 200 IM”, there are several people, including SwimSwam’s Coleman Hodges, who are in favor of her swimming the 50 free at NCAAs. And I can see the reasoning behind this. She’s the defending champion in the 50 free, and could be motivated to go back-to-back. In addition, swimming two 50s in one day is probably less taxing than swimming two 200s—having a lighter load might be easier to manage for Douglass with all the relays she has to be on at NCAAs (though Douglass isn’t someone known for not being able to handle doubles).
It’s important to note that the 200 free relay comes after the individual events at NCAAs rather than before them like at ACCs, so if Douglass swims the 200 IM at NCAAs, she’ll be fresher than she was at ACCs.
And regardless of what you believe Douglass should swim, let’s also take a moment to appreciate the nature of this situation. A swimmer being just a few-hundreths of seconds away from the records held by two sisters in two completely different events is a scenario that we’ve never seen before, and goes to show just how good the Douglass/Walsh/Walsh trio really is.
So one thing I never see mentioned in these what should Kate swim posts is maybe just maybe the pulling back on the 200IM at LC trials had more to do with what she was training for at the time which for NCAAs was 50fr, 100 fly and 200 breast. To achieve the amazing feat she did last year she was focused on those events and was likely not training as much backstroke for IM. I’m guessing she built that back into her training protocols in the fall for short course worlds. Also training for IM is stressful as there are so many elements to think about for each stroke. It may have been a more mental break from that… Read more »
Has Kate made it clear that she has her eyes on Paris? She isnt taking a 5th year and she could pull a Maya Dirado with a job lined up.
As far as I can recall, KD and AW haven’t raced the 200 IM scy since 2021 ACCs, when a freshman AW surprisingly won.
Maybe Douglass has a psychological block with the 200 IM, like she’s afraid of losing that race. At least in the 50, she knows she’s not a “pure” sprinter, so it’s less expectations. Or maybe Alex doesn’t want to race Douglass in the 200 IM. Either way, it feels pointed that the 2 best IMers in college are on the same team and haven’t raced head-to-head in 2 years.
Has Kate Douglass said she’s not turning pro? Why is NCAAs likely her last meet ever?
Last *college meet. Sorry, will fix that.
Lol not that big of a decision, she would win both. its whatever she wants to swim
No one cares what Coleman Hodges thinks.
Who hurt you?
If you had told me 5 years ago that there’d be a clearly more dominant trio than Ledecky/Manuel/Eastin in the NCAA so soon, I’d have laughed at you. From an NCAA perspective, Douglass/Walsh/Walsh is definitely the best Women’s trio ever. Not sure who the equivalent on the Men’s side would be; I’d need to think about it. 🤔
Imagine being as good as Ella Nelson is and still not cracking your college team’s Big 3. She’s like the Toni Kukoc of the Cavaliers (though I’d argue that Toni was better than Rodman, he just wasn’t as out-loud as Rodman).
Toni was sooooo clutch!
You mean the Bulls, but point made.
Haha. I see now why that’s confusing. No, I mean of the (Virginia) Cavaliers, but…
Or down in Miami with Lebron, Wade and “the other guy”.
On men’s side, I believe Indiana had Spitz, Hall and Kinsella for at least one year together.
Did Peirsol, Crocker, and Hansen all swim at Texas at the same time? Not sure how they did at NCAAs but three big names that come to mind that were around the same time.
Texas with Haas, Schooling, and the third choice is a toss up…Smith, Licon, Conger, Jackson
I might have to lean toward Licon.
Didn’t Texas also have Peirsol/Crocker/Hansen at the same time? I don’t remember, but I’m guessing they were pretty dominant.
Yanyan, just want to say that you’re a gem of a writer!