University of Georgia senior Hali Flickinger has entered the 200 freestyle and not the 400 IM at the 2016 NCAA Championships. Flickinger, who finished 2nd in that race a year ago, was the top returning swimmer in the event.
However, the race’s landscape has been dramatically changed by the addition of Stanford freshmen Ella Eastin. Whereas Flickinger was just .25 back from winning NCAAs last year in 4:02.73, this year she would likely have to join Eastin under 4:00 to contend.
Conversely, the 200 free is far more wide open than it was a year ago. In 2015 Missy Franklin was more than two seconds ahead of Simone Manuel to win in 1:39.10. Franklin has since gone pro, with Manuel taking an Olympic redshirt. That means that Lia Neal is the top returner (and seed) in the 200 free in just 1:42.50.
Georgia did give some inclination that they might have an event change planned for Flickinger when they swam her in the 200 backstroke at the SEC Championships. However, it remained unlikely that she would swim both the 200 Backstroke and the 200 Butterfly as she did at the SEC Championship. The two events fall on the same day in the NCAA format.
Georgia will be aiming to get two swimmers in the A-Final after just having one consolation finalist a year ago.