With yesterday’s release of the 2010 Women’s NCAA Swimming & Diving Championships psych sheet, I’m sure many of our readers instantly had the same question: Who’s the favorite? Me too! Given that for the most part, college swim coaches are fairly guarded (and overly optimistic) about their training and tapering, it’s hard for anyone to develop any kind of a subjective opinion. Therefore, we must use all available information to come up with some predictions. So, let’s talk numbers!
(Keep in mind, we don’t know yet which divers will go where).
First, let’s look at the teams with the most number of swimmers entered.
- Texas A&M-14
- California, Florida, Stanford, Minnesota, USC-12
- Tennessee, Texas-11
But this doesn’t even come close to telling the whole story. Stanfords 12 swimmers (including Julia Smit, Elaine Breeden, and Betsy Webb, who should probably each count as two swimmers for how many points they’ll score) will easily outscore Virginia’s 16, or even Arizona’s 18. So let’s look at the breakdown of the psych sheet scoring.
- Texas A&M-226
Obviously, this isn’t the end-al be-all. We can probably safely assume that barring an act of God, or an overzealous band, Stanford isn’t going to finish outside of the top 5, and Tennessee isn’t going to win the meet. But these numbers do give us a good starting point for discussing the favorites.
A little deeper look into the numbers reveals that no. 1 Stanford will have the top seed in 2 relays and 6 individual events. On the surface, this seems like a big advantage, but what this means is that they have very little room to move up from their 423 projected points. However, in many of these events, they have the top seed by a large margin, meaning they’re unlikely to move down many points, either.
In this regard, Georgia is in a little better position, with 1 relay favorite, and 3 individual events. Twice, however, the Bulldogs have the first and second seeds in an event, which brings their swimmers-who-can’t-advance total to 5, plus a relay.
The defending champion California Golden Bears are in prime position to pick up a lot of points, as they have three relays in the top 3. A relay moving up from second to first is worth 6 extra points, which can be a huge point swing if a team knocks the right relay off.
When taking a passing look at diving, Georgia should be able to make up some ground on Stanford on the back of Hannah Moore. This could be enough to push Georgia ahead of Stanford, if they get a good showing from their swimmers, but at the least makes the meet very close. Florida and Texas A&M (who will come in seeded no.4 and 5 based on psych sheets), will bring the strongest diving contingents to the meet. Florida, who is only seeded 14 points behind Cal, will almost surely overtake the Golden Bears on the strengths of their divers, and Cal’s swimmers will have to fight back. Florida will probably get enough points to be in the national title conversation, but they just don’t seem to have enough to really push Stanford and Georgia.
Texas A&M could pick up as many as 40-50 points on California in the diving events, thanks to two potential scorers in Jaele Patrick and Janie Potvin, which would put them within sniffing distance of a top 4 finish. USC, sitting sixth based on seeds, also has a very good diving group, perhaps the best of the top 12, but it may not be enough to bump them ahead of the two teams ahead of them, who also have good squads.
The darkhorse of the meet is the Big Ten Champion Indiana Hoosiers. They are seeded with the 12th most points, but have qualified a lot of swimmers, and have a lot of swimmers projected to finish in the 15-20 range. With a solid taper, these swimmers could easily move up several spots. The Hoosiers aren’t going to challenge for the National title, but they could definitely hope to finish as high as 8th.
If you put a gun to my head, this is how I would project the top 12. But again, this is a very early look, and these meets are always hard to call.
- Texas A&M
I’d love to hear everyone else’s thoughts, please leave them in the comments! If they’re good, we might publish them.
The 2010 Women’s National Championship meet will be held March 17-20 in West Lafayette, Indiana at Purdue University.
All of the psych sheets scoring was done by hand, but was checked and double checked, but please let us know if we made any mistakes.