OVERREACTIONS: Day 1 at the 2022 NCAA Women’s D1 Championships

by Sarah Berman 14

March 17th, 2022 AAC, ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, College, Pac-12, SEC

OVERREACTIONS: Day 1 at the 2022 NCAA Women’s D1 Championships


It’s finally here, the 2022 Division I Women’s Swimming and Diving Championship. Based on tonight, it looks like we’re in for a fast meet. Now it’s time to overreact.

  • Berkoff is ready to rock and roll 

For starters, Katharine Berkoff seems locked and loaded, ready to challenge Regan Smith for the 100 backstroke crown. Berkoff became the fastest performer in history with her backstroke lead-off split on the Wolfpack’s 200 medley relay, posting a 22.76 en-route to the team finishing 2nd behind Virginia. Smith was 24.31 leading off for Stanford, but totally missed her turn, going into the turn 3rd behind Berkoff and Gretchen Walsh, but came off the wall 7th. Berkoff is seeded 2nd behind Smith in the 100 backstroke by .18 seconds. 

  • Virginia is on par to defend its NCAA title 

Speaking of Virginia, the Cavaliers added just a little bit of time compared to their ACC performance, winning the 200 medley relay in 1:32.16 seconds, versus their American Record 1:31.81 set at the ACC Championships. In the 800 freestyle relay, Virginia was 2nd (6:53.47) and at ACC Championships the team was 6:53.37. While Virginia is just a touch off from their seed times, they’re still close enough to cruise to another team title, barring an overall shift in the meet. 

Stanford is off to a solid start, winning the 800 freestyle relay by five-seconds, the only team to dip under 6:50. The highlight of that relay was Taylor Ruck, who produced the fastest split in the field (1:40.49). This split sets her up for a very promising meet ahead. Stanford has been hammered by their performances both at the collegiate and international level recently. Ruck’s split and the overall 800 freestyle relay performance should help quell that a little. 

  • Texas and Cal are rolling 

Cal and Texas look like they’re ready to produce their best performances at this meet. Cal moved up from their seed in both relays, finishing 7th instead of 9th in the 200 medley relay. The Golden Bears were projected to finish 5th, but finished 3rd, led by Isabel Ivey’s 1:41.35 lead-off split, which is a lifetime best for her. She is swimming the individual 200 freestyle on Friday and sits 2nd on the psych sheet (1:42.29). Her split from tonight is faster than the top-seed in the event, Lia Thomas (1:41.93).

Texas finished as projected in both relays, finishing 5th in the 200 medley relay and 4th in the 800 freestyle relay. Kelly Pash led off in 1:42.94 seconds, right on her split from last year. Evie Pfeifer anchored in 1:44.29 seconds, also right on her split from this meet last year.

Last year, Pash was 7th in the 200 IM (1:55.72), 3rd in the 200 freestyle (1:43.50), and 4th in the 200 butterfly (1:53.42). This year, Pash is seeded 14th in the 200 IM, 12th in the 200 freestyle, and 8th in the 200 butterfly. In 2021, Pfeifer was 2nd in the 500 freestyle (4:35.02), 5th in the 400 IM (4:05.41), and 2nd in the 1,650 freestyle (15:46.41). This year, Pfeifer is seeded 17th in the 500 freestyle, 22nd in the 400 IM, and 11th in the 1,650 freestyle. Based on their respective splits from Wednesday night, it’s expected that this duo will move up in the rankings and be in contention for A-final spots. 

  • Tennessee was locked in at SEC Championships

Tennessee seems to have confirmed that they were all in at the SEC Championships. The Vol’s dropped from their projected seed in both relays, finishing 11th in the 200 medley relay (1:35.26) after being seeded 6th (1:34.63). Tennessee was 8th in the 800 freestyle (6:57.79) relay, but was seeded 3rd (6:56.43). Last year, Tennessee added two-seconds from their seed time in the 800 freestyle relay to finish 16th (7:04.08). In 2021, the Vol’s were 8th in the 200 medley relay (1:36.25), but going a touch faster than their seed time. 

Based on Maggie MacNeil’s 50 backstroke split (23.07), she looks right on track from prior years, but not faster. Last year, she split a 23.17 on this relay. MacNeil also set the world record in the 50 back short course meters. Tomorrow will be the tell-all with the 50 freestyle. She was 2nd in the 50 freestyle last year, and is the reigning champion in the 100 butterfly and 100 freestyle. Overall, MacNeil will have to be on her A-game throughout this meet as she has challenges against big names in all of her individual events, especially in the 100 butterfly where she will face Torri Huske and Kate Douglass

  • Louisville is already out-scoring their projected score

Louisville started out with a bang, like they usually do at the NCAA Championships. Over the past three NCAA Championships, Louisville has outscored their psych sheet projection. The Cardinals were not seeded to score in the 200 medley relay, but finished 8th, which was a massive pickup. Louisville also moved up from their projected 10th place to finishing 7th in the 800 freestyle relay. 

It looks like first-year head coach Margo Geer has mastered the double taper for Alabama, putting the Crimson Tide in real contention for a 3rd place finish. Alabama was 4th in the 200 medley relay and 13th in the 800 freestyle relay. 

  • We’re in for a fast meet

12 out of 24 teams improved from their seed times in the 200 medley relay. The biggest drop was Louisville shaving nearly two-seconds off its seed time to pick up 22 points, when the Cardinals weren’t seeded to score. 

10 out of 21 teams improved from their seed times in the 800 freestyle relay, as compared to 11 out of 20 in 2019, the last normal NCAA Championship meet. Stanford was the only team to go sub-6:50 (6:48.30). Cal had a monster improvement from its seed time to take 3rd (6:53.52), nearly out-touching Virginia for the win. Cal was seeded with a 6:57.59, so their performance tonight was a massive four-second drop. 

Georgia also dropped significantly, posting a 6:56.58 compared to their seed time 7:01.34 seconds. The Bulldogs finished 5th, picking up 28 points versus their projected 6. Also improving was Florida (6:56.96), after being seeded at 7:01.77 seconds. The Gators picked up 26 points instead of their projected 4. 

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B1G Swim Fan
6 months ago

Part of Louisville’s medley relay “shave” was a lineup change. Not that there is anything wrong with that…just being pedantic.

6 months ago

This article to should’ve been titled “Over reacting to the stars who decided to shine in February”…. Ohio State’s Medley should have been mentioned. 20.98 from Amy Fulmer, second fastest split in the field. Making a big deal about another team that isn’t Cal, Stanford, or VA? That would be over reacting!

Reply to  Sam
6 months ago

Actually, UNC’s Grace Countie had the second fastest split with a 20.92 FWIW

6 months ago

Are you sure about the 800 free relay times for Georgia and Florida? Didn’t Georgia finish 5th ahead of Florida?

6 months ago

There is really no overreacting in the article. How about UVA missed their taper adding time from conference? I mean we all know they were unrested and now they can’t even drop time. Or Taylor ruck looks primed to make a run at Missy’s 200 free record?

Reply to  Taa
6 months ago

Taylor is doing the best freestyle she’s done in a few years, but tap the brakes a bit when raising Missy’s record.. Possible but remember Taylor was flat start 1:40.37 at her last NCAA. With an average flying start allowance tonight Taylor was a little under 2 seconds off Missy’s performance (1:39.10). I think Taylor had the best swim last night, a few tenths superior to Ivey’s flat start 1:41.35 (pool record surpassing Mallory Comerford’s 1:41.70), but they’ll both have to have huge improvements from their opening night performances to challenge Missy.

Reply to  Taa
6 months ago

Ruck was 1.5 seconds slower that Franklin’s record with a relay start and swimming it fresh on Day 1. Ruck does not look primed to make a run at Franklin’s record.

Reply to  Taa
6 months ago

In the post-meet interview Gretchen talked about how nervous she was and sloppy the event was. They still swam super fast but I think she’ll dial it in as the meet continues and the nerves settle.

Reply to  Yay
6 months ago

Said the armchair fan who never raced in a high level meet.

Reply to  Yay
6 months ago

8th time you’ve said this in 2 days. Broken clock.

Reply to  Yay
6 months ago

*ahem*. They really made you eat your words lol

Reply to  Taa
6 months ago

Gotta love the masses of readers who confuse your post as person feelings against UVA versus understanding what true overreaction/hyperbole is.

Last edited 6 months ago by Erik
Steve Nolan
Reply to  Erik
6 months ago

lol I was just gonna say – people are NOT having talk of Missy’s record being challenged, thank you very much!!!

Reply to  Taa
6 months ago

Yeah, UVA totally missed their taper (snickering and rolling eyes). That take was bad to begin with, and has aged even worse in half a day.