NCAA Women’s 200 Butterfly: Worrell Has to Hold Off Eastin to Repeat

2016 WOMEN’S NCAA SWIMMING & DIVING CHAMPIONSHIPS

     200 BUTTERFLY

  • NCAA record: 1:49.92- Elaine Breeden (Stanford)- 2/28/2009
  • American record: 1:49.92- Elaine Breeden (Stanford)- 2/28/2009
  • U.S. Open Record: 1:49.92- Elaine Breeden (Stanford)- 2/28/2009
  • 2015 NCAA Champion: Kelsi Worrell (Louisville)- 1:51.11

Last year was Louisville then-junior Kelsi Worrell‘s year. She surged all season, culminating in winning the NCAA butterfly double in record-crushing fashion. This year, Worrell has continued to show really good form. Her seed times in the 100 and 200 butterfly are improved over 2015, and she was able to improve on both swims at the championship last year.

Worrell was not the 200 butterfly favorite a year ago, as she entered the meet with just a 1:54.29. This year, she is the clear favorite, having already swum 1:51.3 when it is doubtful that she ever fully rested to try and qualify.

But to win a second straight title, Worrell will need to do more than beat the same cast from a year ago. Sitting just .6 back from her is Stanford freshmen Ella Eastin, riding high off of some record-breaking performances at the PAC-12 Conference meet. 

The younger Eastin has improved from a 1:54 in her high school days, and could take even more time off. Easin could also be riding high from a victory the day before in the 400 IM, where she is the clear favorite.

In order to upset those two, Georgia senior Hali Flickinger will need to find more speed than she had in 2015. Flickinger’s first 100 (54.60) put her effectively out of the money. She has improved a little bit in this race overall. She did find an extra gear at the SEC Championships, swimming her first 100 in 53.45, a time that is actually faster than Worrell took the race out in a year ago.

The true dark horse of the field is Texas A&M’s Sarah Gibson. Gibson did not even swim the event seriously in her first two years as an Aggie. Last year, she managed to qualify for NCAA’s but did not score individually. Gibson is a late bloomer who has improved at a rapid rate each year. It’s almost impossible to predict what she’s capable of as she has so little history in this event, but she’s got tons of momentum.

TOP 8 PREDICTIONS

Seed Time                      Best Time

  1. Kelsi Worrell, Louisville                                        1:51.36                            1:51.11
  2. Ella Eastin. Stanford                                              1:51.96                            1:51.96
  3. Sarah Gibson, Texas A&M                                    1:53.94                           1:53.94
  4. Hali Flickinger, Georgia                                        1:52.33                            1:52.33
  5. Noemie Thomas, Cal                                              1:53.85                           1:53.85
  6. Gia Dalesandro, Indiana                                      1:54.77                            1:54.77
  7. Chelsea Chenault, USC                                          1:55.16                             1:53.17
  8. Megan Kingsley, Georgia                                      1:53.76                             1:53.76

Dark Horse: Cal senior Kelly Naze is a swimmer like Gibson who has finally found this event. She swam the 200 backstroke a year ago and didn’t score, but enters this meet as the 7th seed.

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About Chris DeSantis

Chris DeSantis

Chris DeSantis is a swim coach, writer and swimming enthusiast. Chris does private consulting and coaching with teams and individuals. You can find him at www.facebook.com/cdswimcoach. Chris is a 2009 Graduate from the Masters of Applied Positive Psychology program at the University of Pennsylvania. He was the first professional athletic coach …

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