Meet The Mid-Major Qualifiers For Division I Women’s NCAAs


The official psych sheets for the Women’s NCAAs have been released, and with it 281 swimmers from 57 Division I teams have earned invites to the meet. Included in those is a list of 18 mid-major schools with at least one qualifier. We’re counting mid-major programs as those Division I programs outside of the Power 5 conferences (ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, SEC). While not all teams in the Power 5 conferences receive the same funding, our goal here is introduce you to swimmers from some of the other schools that might not be as familiar to the mainstream swimming fan.

Another reminder: the numbers used in this post only contain swimmers, as divers have not yet completed their Zone qualifying process. The inclusion of divers will likely add the presence a few more mid-major teams to the meet.

Here is the list of Mid-Major teams with qualifiers, and the number of invited swimmers (note: this list only contains individual swimmers invited. No relays are included):

School # of Invitees
Akron 3
Boise State 1
Denver 1
Eastern Michigan 1
Florida International 1
Harvard 2
Hawaii 2
Houston 1
James Madison 1
Northeastern 1
Penn 1
Rice 1
Richmond 1
San Diego State 3
Navy 2
UC Davis 1
Yale 1

Akron seems to be leading this charge of Mid-Major programs, having qualified 3 individual swimmers and 4 out of 5 relays to the meet. Although San Diego State also punched 3 tickets to the meet, Akron was the only Mid-Major program to have qualified any relays to NCAAs. Additionally, Akron hit the ‘A’ cut in 3 of those relays, a feat which a good number of Power Five teams didn’t even attain. The Zips are also seeded in scoring position in the 200 and 400 free relays.

Akron’s 3 swimmers individually invited were senior Sadie Fazekas, sophomore Paulina Nogaj, and freshman Sarah Watson. Fazekas was invited in the 50 free and 100 back, while Nogaj and Watson earned invites in the 100 fly. Additionally, 4 more Zips are eligible to compete in the relays. Those include senior Regan Engel, junior Ellie Nebraska, sophomore Paula Garcia, and freshman Sofia Henell.

Now, let’s dig further into the specifics of these Mid-Major invitees. Of the 26 swimmers from Mid-Major programs that were invited to the meet, 9 of them earned an invite in multiple events. Two of them earned the maximum of 3 event invites. (Note before I continue: these numbers I’m talking about are just simply the events each swimmer was invited in. All swimmers that earn an invite to the meet are then allowed to swim up to 3 events as long as they have the ‘B’ cuts in those events) Those two swimmer were Bella Hindley (Yale) and Lauren Barber (Navy). Hindley earned herself invites in the 50 free, 100 free, and 100 back, while Barber was invited in the 200 IM, 100 breast, and 200 breast.

Here are the other 7 swimmers that earned multiple invites and the events they were invited in:

Leading the way individually for these Mid-Major swimmers is Hawaii junior Phoebe Hines. Hines is the top seed in the 1650 with her time of 15:41.35. She’s been leading the NCAA in the mile this season with that time since Novemeber, and if she manages to win the 1650 at NCAAs, she would be the first swimmer from a Mid-Major program to win a national title since 2005.

Another Mid-Major star to look out for is Eastern Michigan senior Delaney Duncan. Duncan came in 4th in the 100 breast and 14th in the 200 breast at NCAAs last year. Duncan has been faster this season in both breaststroke events than she was last year. She is seeded 5th and 7th in the 100 and 200 respectively this year.

Bella Hindley went from not making the meet last year to being the 12th seed in the 50 free and 16th seed in the 100 free this year. Martina Thomas, a Navy freshman, is the 2nd highest seeded freshmen (18th) in the 200 free, behind only Stanford’s Taylor Ruck.

Here are the remaining Mid-Major invitees who have not yet been listed:

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5 years ago

How many alternates usually make it and get in

Reply to  Alice
5 years ago

Depends on how many Stanford qualifies over the max # of athletes. Right now they have probably one that they will have to pull out of the meet to let in their diver(s). The only other reason for alternates to get in is for scratches due to injury/illness.

5 years ago

I think we will continue to see a growing percentage of NCAA qualifiers come from mid majors in the future. One reason is because of the overall depth of good swimmers out there. The other is that as these young swimmers make their college commitment earlier because of the change in the recruiting rules the mid majors should be able to land more swimmers that develop into NCAA qualifiers. The mid majors need to recruit well by recognizing potential, and offering a competitive financial package. The swimmer may not be in the top 50 of the recruiting class when they commit as a sophomore or junior but there are many swimmers that make huge improvements as they mature. If the… Read more »

Greg Tucker
Reply to  Mike
5 years ago

Your two reasons are valid. I think you missed the third and perhaps most important. Mid-majors are Noe attracting top rung international swimmers (see MAC). I wonder how many of these are non-US swimmers.

5 years ago

Coach Peresie is crushing it with the Zips. That relay stat is big time, the sign of really building a full program.

Reply to  1anda2
5 years ago

I’m a big fan of BP!. You cannot deny the stats, impact and results at Akron but also as an assistant at Ohio. Good results at Malone and Ashland also. If I’m a recruit, parent, current team member, or administrator “I’m buying”.

Reply to  1anda2
5 years ago

I agree. Akron really blew me away this champs season, starting with some of their relays at the Notre Dame invite pre-conference meet. It’s on me for not being aware of them sooner, but wow, outstanding stuff from the Zips.

ACC fan
5 years ago

SMU used to be a powerhouse with several top ten and maybe a top 5 finish at some point (s). Wander how many scholarships they have because Collins is an awesome coach and person?

Reply to  ACC fan
5 years ago

I’m definitely biased as Steve was my college coach and professional mentor (on his staff for 10 years). ACC Fan is dead-on with the impressive team finishes (and individual accomplishments). During his tenure SMU has finished in the DI top 10 fifteen times, including nine top four finishes and a runner up in 1996. Top eight the entire 1990’s decade (top four ’92-’99). Anyone who has worked with him or swam / dove under him (strong proponent of swimming AND diving!) knows what type of person he is and how positive he is.


Yale Men – National Champions in ’42, ’44, ’51, ‘53 , runner up in ’40, ’41, ’50, ’52, ’55, ’56, ’57, ’58, ’63, ‘68!!!! Different era,… Read more »

He Gets It Done Again
5 years ago

Awesome, thanks for putting this together. Who doesn’t love an underdog?

It’d be pretty crazy if Hines won the 1650. Like Chris Swanson but with much better weather