While men’s NCAA conference championship competition is still coming to its peak this coming weekend, most of the meat of the women’s competition came last weekend.
There are still a handful of conference championship meets to come this weekend. The biggest lot of qualifiers will come out of the Pac-12 Championships, which includes both of the top 2 teams from last year’s NCAA Championship meet: Stanford and Cal. While the Pac-12 Championships will definitely include some new qualifiers, many of the swimmers who will go to NCAAs from that meet already have qualifying times. The Big 12 Championships, headlined by Texas, who finished 5th at last year’s NCAA Championship meet, should also produce a number of qualifiers.
Also remaining this weekend for the women are the Conference USA Championships, the Big East Championships, the WAC Championships, the Mid-American Conference Championships, and the ECAC Championships. Those conferences are usually good for a handful of qualifiers among them, in addition to any that crop up from last-chance qualifying meets. For example, the Akron women qualified 3 swimmers (including 2 underclassmen butterfliers) for last year’s NCAA Championship meet.
With all of that said, there’s some value, heading into the final weekend of women’s competition, to taking a high-level look at where teams sit in terms of qualifiers, which is a crucial first data point when looking at potential NCAA Championship team finishes.
- This analysis presumes that swimmers who are currently ranked in the top 25 in the NCAA are safely qualified for the meet. It would be an unprecedented occurrence for a swimmer currently ranked in the top 25 in the NCAA heading into the final weekend of conference meets to not earn an invite.
- The analysis presumes that swimmers ranked 25-30 are “likely” invitees. These swimmers are relatively safe, but they could theoretically get bumped.
- The analysis presumes that swimmers ranked 30th-40th are “on the bubble.” Barring improvements of their times at last chance meets, their fates are dependent on how fast, or not, swimmers are at the last few remaining championship meets, as well as which swimmers ahead of them choose which events for NCAAs (considering swimmers like Kate Douglass, who has invite-worthy times in more than the allowed 3 individual events).
- This analysis currently has 267 swimmers. An analysis at the same point of last season would have had 263 swimmers. 281 individual female swimmers get to go to the NCAA Championship meet. Last season, the cut line fell in the middle of the 38 line. We don’t know what’s going to happen in the last week of the year, but this implies that, if this season ends similarly to last season, the cut line in terms of placing will be at a lower line (in other words, closer to 37 than 39).
- Cal and Stanford are in pretty good shape at this point of qualifying, with Cal having a likely 11 qualifiers and Stanford 9. Last year, Cal had 12 individuals invited to NCAAs, while Stanford had 18 (and wound up dropping 2 in order to make room for their 4 diving qualifiers). Only 2 of last year’s qualifiers for Stanford were seniors. If they can pick up a few more spots and move some of their bubble swimmers into safe territory at Pac-12s, their mission will be accomplished.
- The Texas women have a lot of work to do still. They only have 4 swimmers locked in for NCAAs right now (Kelly Pash, Evie Pfeifer, Claire Adams, and Julia Cook). With Bridget Semenuk on the bubble in the 100 free, the Longhorns have some work to do at Big 12s. They sent 10 swimmers to last year’s NCAA Championship meet when they placed 5th.
- The Virginia women, fresh off an ACC title, have 13 locked in for the NCAA Championships, a 14th likely in, and 3 on the bubble. That 17 potential qualifiers so far leads all teams in the country by a pretty wide margin (Stanford is next at 13, including bubble swimmers). They sent 14 last year en route to a 6th-place finish, and have a powerful freshman class to add to that group this year.
- Among teams that have completed conference meets, Louisville has the most swimmers on the bubble with 4.
- Among mid-majors, San Diego State with 4 likely qualifiers leads the way. Houston, with 3 likely qualifiers and 2 others on the bubble, are in good shape as well. In fact, the whole American Athletic Conference is doing fairly well: Tulane, SMU, Cincinnati, and East Carolina are all likely to be represented at this year’s NCAA Championship meet.
|In||Likely In||On the Bubble||Total|
|San Diego St||3||1||0||4|