Mid-Season Check In: How Are the NCAA Freshman Women Faring So Far?

How freshmen do as they break into the NCAA is always a hot topic. You have the set of stars who have been killing it at the age group level, or the international standouts who are making a name for themselves at big meets. You have the swimmers with less national name recognition who hit their stride and blow up in college. Athletes respond differently to their new campus, new training atmosphere, new schedule, new friends, and new challenges. A freshman who starts off the year hot might not close out on a high note, and vice versa.

So, here’s a look at the top 10 in every NCAA event. Freshmen only.

Many of these names are familiar.

  • We’ve heard about Stanford’s freshman class, with Canadian Taylor Ruck at its helm. We’ve expected big things from Grace Ariola and Julia Cook down in Austin. Florida’s Vanessa Pearl, NC State’s Emma Muzzy, the duo of Dakota Luther and Olivia Carter from UGA– they’re all doing incredibly well.
  • Canadian Maggie MacNeil is the best Big Ten swimmer in history in the 100 fly, and she was a very impressive meters swimmer coming in, but who could’ve guessed she’d be popping a 49-second 100 fly in her very first semester?

Meanwhile, it’s incredibly refreshing to see quite a handful of names from mid-major schools.

  • Sarah Watson of Akron, Martina Thomas and Kelly Huffer of Navy, and Kelly Montesi of Villanova are just some of the mid-major swimmers on this list. Watson ranks in the top 10 in two different events, the 100 fly and 200 IM. Thomas is hundredths off of being the 2nd-fastest freshman in the 200 free in the country. Huffer is 6th in the 200 fly and Montesi 5th in the 400 IM.

A few Big Ten swimmers have quietly been making their mark this season.

  • Lillie Hosack and Tara Vovk are having great freshman years at Big Ten schools with new head coaches. Hosack, of Wisconsin, is ranked top 10 in both the 200 free and 200 IM, and she had a huge 1:44 split on Wisconsin’s 800 free relay at the Texas Invite. Vovk is ranked top 10 in both breaststrokes, already a great breast weapon for a Northwestern team that is looking better than ever.
  • Noelle Peplowski has shot to the top of the breaststroke rankings nationally in her first semester with IU. While the Hoosiers have struggled a bit to develop a strong sprint and backstroke base which could spell trouble by the year’s end, Peplowski has gone from 1:01.3 to 59.1 in a very short amount of time in the 100 breast. The Hoosiers’ Mac Looze, ranked 3rd in both IM’s amongst freshmen, and Maggie Wallace, who sits 5th in the 1650 free, are showing that the IU freshman class deserves a nod.

Finally, several international swimmers are finding speed in their first yards seasons.

  • Sophie Hansson and Ida Hulkko, both breaststrokers from Nordic countries, lead the way in the 100 breast for freshmen. Hansson, of NC State, and Hulkko, of Florida State, are also in the top 5 for all grades this season.
  • Sprinters Kalia Antoniou of Cyprus/Alabama and Kertu Alnek of Estonia/Florida State both rank in the top 10 for freshmen.
  • Canadian Mabel Zavaros of Florida and Briton Alicia Wilson of Cal have also excelled thus far in the year.

Every team has its year-long plan, and we might have seen the best times we’ll see from some of these swimmers this year, while some will probably end up improving by year’s end. A good amount of your favorite swimmers (Mallory Comerford, Kelsi Dahlia, and Kevin Cordes, to name a few) were not very close to being able to score at NCAAs before college, and have since won national titles.

50 FREE

Rank Time Name Yr Team TS Meet Date
1 21.73 Ariola, Grace FR Texas A 11/29/2018
2 21.93 MacNeil, Maggie FR Michigan B 11/29/2018
3 22.12 Ruck, Taylor FR Stanford B 11/15/2018
4 22.26 Alons, Kylee FR NC State B 11/15/2018
5 22.28 Cook, Julia FR Texas B 11/29/2018
6 22.41 Fackenthal, Amalie FR Stanford B 11/15/2018
7 22.42 Antoniou, Kalia FR Alabama B 11/15/2018
8 22.44 Grover, Claire FR UCLA B 11/29/2018
9 22.44 Countie, Grace FR UNC B 11/15/2018
10 22.53 Alnek, Kertu FR Florida St B 11/15/2018

100 FREE

Rank Time Name Yr Team TS Meet Date
1 47.90 Ruck, Taylor FR Stanford B 12/20/2018
2 48.09 Ariola, Grace FR Texas B 12/01/2018
3 48.25 MacNeil, Maggie FR Michigan B 12/01/2018
4 48.33 Cook, Julia FR Texas B 12/01/2018
5 48.63 Fackenthal, Amalie FR Stanford B 11/17/2018
6 48.70 Nordmann, Lucie FR Stanford B 11/17/2018
7 49.12 Alnek, Kertu FR Florida St B 11/17/2018
8 49.13 Antoniou, Kalia FR Alabama B 11/17/2018
9 49.15 Kraus, Alena FR Louisville B 11/17/2018
10 49.17 Melton, Kobie FR Arkansas B 11/17/2018

200 FREE

Rank Time Name Yr Team TS Meet Date
1 1:44.72 Ruck, Taylor FR Stanford B 11/16/2018
2 1:45.54 Pish, Melissa FR Duke B 11/30/2018
3 1:45.54 Nordmann, Lucie FR Stanford B 11/16/2018
4 1:45.60 Thomas, Martina FR U.S. Navy B 12/01/2018
5 1:46.06 Kraus, Alena FR Louisville B 11/16/2018
6 1:46.28 Hosack, Lillie FR Wisconsin B 11/30/2018
7 1:46.45 Shelton, Samantha FR Harvard B 11/30/2018
8 1:46.46 Dunn, Diana FR Louisville B 11/16/2018
9 1:46.54 Luther, Dakota FR Georgia B 11/30/2018
10 1:46.59 Tankersley, Morgan FR Stanford B 11/16/2018

500 FREE

Rank Time Name Yr Team TS Meet Date
1 4:37.83 Braswell, Leah FR Florida B 11/15/2018
2 4:39.18 Hetzer, Emily FR Auburn B 11/15/2018
3 4:41.78 Ruck, Taylor FR Stanford B 11/15/2018
4 4:42.10 Peplowski, Noelle FR Indiana B 11/15/2018
5 4:43.58 Tankersley, Morgan FR Stanford B 11/15/2018
6 4:43.81 McMahon, Kensey FR Alabama B 11/15/2018
7 4:44.20 Zavaros, Mabel FR Florida B 11/15/2018
8 4:44.27 Larson, Sinclair FR Tennessee B 11/29/2018
9 4:44.30 Luther, Dakota FR Georgia B 11/29/2018
10 4:44.47 Rockway, Christin FR Indiana B 11/15/2018

1650 FREE

Rank Time Name Yr Team TS Meet Date
1 15:59.46 McMahon, Kensey FR Alabama B 11/17/2018
2 15:59.47 Braswell, Leah FR Florida B 11/17/2018
3 16:05.48 Hetzer, Emily FR Auburn B 11/17/2018
4 16:17.76 Sanderson, Kate FR South Carolina B 11/17/2018
5 16:19.01 Wallace, Maggie FR Indiana B 11/17/2018
6 16:19.92 Buroker, Catherine FR Penn B 12/01/2018
7 16:21.47 Tankersley, Morgan FR Stanford B 11/17/2018
8 16:21.63 Rockway, Christin FR Indiana B 11/17/2018
9 16:33.46 Kilgallon, Abigail FR Minnesota NS 11/17/2018
10 16:35.16 Benjamin, Haley FR Houston NS 11/18/2018

100 BACK

Rank Time Name Yr Team TS Meet Date
1 51.31 MacNeil, Maggie FR Michigan B 11/30/2018
2 51.70 Cook, Julia FR Texas B 11/30/2018
3 51.70 Ruck, Taylor FR Stanford B 11/16/2018
4 51.86 Ariola, Grace FR Texas B 11/30/2018
5 52.55 White, Rhyan FR Alabama B 11/16/2018
6 52.69 Bernal, Aria FR Arizona B 11/30/2018
7 52.76 Nordmann, Lucie FR Stanford B 11/15/2018
8 52.77 Countie, Grace FR UNC B 11/16/2018
9 52.77 Alons, Kylee FR NC State B 11/16/2018
10 52.98 Grusova, Tereza FR Rutgers B 11/30/2018

200 BACK

Rank Time Name Yr Team TS Meet Date
1 1:51.58 Muzzy, Emma FR NC State B 11/17/2018
2 1:51.83 Ruck, Taylor FR Stanford B 11/17/2018
3 1:53.10 Zavaros, Mabel FR Florida B 11/17/2018
4 1:53.14 Nordmann, Lucie FR Stanford B 11/17/2018
5 1:54.12 Stewart, Bayley FR Notre Dame B 11/17/2018
6 1:54.21 Larson, Sinclair FR Tennessee B 12/01/2018
7 1:54.24 White, Rhyan FR Alabama B 11/17/2018
8 1:54.72 Carter, Olivia FR Georgia B 12/01/2018
9 1:54.98 Shelton, Samantha FR Harvard B 12/01/2018
10 1:55.35 Lindner, Sophie FR UNC B 11/17/2018

100 BREAST

Rank Time Name Yr Team TS Meet Date
1 58.44 Hansson, Sophie FR NC State A 11/16/2018
2 59.03 Hulkko, Ida FR Florida St B 11/02/2018
3 59.18 Peplowski, Noelle FR Indiana B 11/16/2018
4 1:00.00 Christensen, Kaki FR Virginia B 11/30/2018
5 1:00.16 Bartel, Zoe FR Stanford B 11/16/2018
6 1:00.24 Powers, Kylie FR Texas A&M B 11/15/2018
7 1:00.31 Kucheran, Nina FR Florida St B 11/16/2018
8 1:00.69 Pearl, Vanessa FR Florida B 11/16/2018
9 1:00.77 Grover, Claire FR UCLA B 11/30/2018
10 1:00.87 Vovk, Tara FR Northwestern B 11/17/2018

200 BREAST

Rank Time Name Yr Team TS Meet Date
1 2:08.04 Pearl, Vanessa FR Florida B 11/17/2018
2 2:08.19 Peplowski, Noelle FR Indiana B 11/17/2018
3 2:08.65 Bartel, Zoe FR Stanford B 11/17/2018
4 2:09.39 Hansson, Sophie FR NC State B 11/17/2018
5 2:10.36 Jones, Kayla FR Missouri B 11/17/2018
6 2:10.38 Christensen, Kaki FR Virginia B 12/01/2018
7 2:10.53 Raab, Allie FR Stanford B 11/17/2018
8 2:10.67 Vovk, Tara FR Northwestern B 11/18/2018
9 2:11.07 Kucheran, Nina FR Florida St B 11/17/2018
10 2:11.45 Odgers, Isabelle FR Southern Cali B 11/09/2018

100 FLY

Rank Time Name Yr Team TS Meet Date
1 49.97 MacNeil, Maggie FR Michigan A 11/30/2018
2 52.33 Carter, Olivia FR Georgia B 11/30/2018
3 52.34 Luther, Dakota FR Georgia B 11/30/2018
4 52.44 Watson, Sarah FR Akron B 12/01/2018
5 52.52 Kraus, Alena FR Louisville B 11/16/2018
6 52.68 Ariola, Grace FR Texas B 11/30/2018
7 52.77 Fackenthal, Amalie FR Stanford B 11/16/2018
8 52.84 Gati, Izzy FR Kentucky B 11/16/2018
9 52.92 Beil, Mallory FR Tennessee B 11/30/2018
10 53.01 Fernandes, Aryanna FR Utah B 11/30/2018

200 FLY

Rank Time Name Yr Team TS Meet Date
1 1:53.55 Luther, Dakota FR Georgia B 12/01/2018
2 1:55.02 Carter, Olivia FR Georgia B 12/01/2018
3 1:55.31 Thomas, Luciana FR Notre Dame B 11/17/2018
4 1:55.73 Kraus, Alena FR Louisville B 11/17/2018
5 1:56.12 Gati, Izzy FR Kentucky B 11/17/2018
6 1:57.06 Huffer, Kelly FR U.S. Navy B 12/01/2018
7 1:57.17 Menkhaus, Julia FR Virginia B 12/01/2018
8 1:57.29 Bayer, Cassidy FR California B 12/01/2018
9 1:57.38 Turner, Makenna FR Southern Cali B 12/01/2018
10 1:57.48 Kwan, Victoria FR Michigan B 12/01/2018

200 IM

Rank Time Name Yr Team TS Meet Date
1 1:55.25 Pearl, Vanessa FR Florida B 11/15/2018
2 1:55.77 Wilson, Alicia FR California B 11/29/2018
3 1:56.96 Looze, Mackenzie FR Indiana B 11/15/2018
4 1:57.83 Carter, Olivia FR Georgia B 11/29/2018
5 1:58.12 Alons, Kylee FR NC State B 11/15/2018
6 1:58.21 Raab, Allie FR Stanford B 11/15/2018
7 1:58.28 Hosack, Lillie FR Wisconsin B 11/29/2018
8 1:58.29 Kinsey, Hallie FR South Carolina B 11/15/2018
9 1:58.39 Watson, Sarah FR Akron B 11/30/2018
10 1:58.52 Kwan, Victoria FR Michigan B 11/29/2018

400 IM

Rank Time Name Yr Team TS Meet Date
1 4:05.07 Pearl, Vanessa FR Florida B 11/16/2018
2 4:05.60 Muzzy, Emma FR NC State B 11/10/2018
3 4:09.16 Looze, Mackenzie FR Indiana B 11/16/2018
4 4:10.12 Zavaros, Mabel FR Florida B 11/16/2018
5 4:10.22 Montesi, Kelly FR Villanova B 12/01/2018
6 4:11.05 Kwan, Victoria FR Michigan B 11/30/2018
7 4:11.52 Thomas, Luciana FR Notre Dame B 11/16/2018
8 4:12.99 Larson, Sinclair FR Tennessee B 11/30/2018
9 4:12.99 Braswell, Leah FR Florida B 11/16/2018
10 4:13.52 Lee, Easop FR Duke B 11/30/2018

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About Karl Ortegon

Karl Ortegon

Karl Ortegon studied sociology at Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT, graduating in May of 2018. He began swimming on a club team in first grade and swam four years for Wesleyan.

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