Stanford’s Composite Women’s 800 Free Relay Time? 6:48.27

As the women’s collegiate season transitions from conference championships into the NCAA Championship portion of the season, it’s worth looking back at one event from the women’s Pac-12 Championships that could have major impacts on a different event at NCAAs later this month.

The former event is the individual 200 freestyle and the latter event the 800 freestyle relay.

That’s because Stanford’s individual dominance in the 200 free adds up to something potentially greater. The current composite time of the Cardinal’s individual 200 freestylers into an 800 free relay is more than a second faster than the NCAA record they set at Pac-12s, and almost two seconds faster than any other relay in history.

Here’s a look at Stanford’s individual 200 free swimmers with times added up from the Pac-12 final:

TOTAL 6:48.27
Simone Manuel 1:40.37
Katie Ledecky 1:40.50
Lia Neal 1:43.62
Katie Drabot 1:43.78

That foursome took 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 5th at Pac-12s, with Drabot just .03 out of 4th place. Manuel and Ledecky sit #1 and #2 in the current NCAA ranks, and Neal is #10 and Drabot #15.

A 6:48.27 would be an unheard-of fast time. At Pac-12s, the Cardinal 800 free relay went 6:49.42, breaking the American record and becoming the first relay ever under 6:50. Yet this composite time is a full second faster than that. If Stanford chooses to load this relay at NCAAs, we could be seeing a historically insane result, especially considering relay exchanges could theoretically take a second or more off that projected time.

The previous American and NCAA records were 6:50.18 set by Cal at Pac-12s in 2015. That relay included a nearly-peak Missy Franklinwho split 1:40.68 on the anchor leg. Franklin would go on to go 1:39.10 in the individual 200 free at NCAAs, but with the 800 free relay falling on the same night, an exhausted Franklin was only 1:40.0 on the anchor leg. With the NCAA moving to the four-day format and the 800 free relay moving to opening night, Stanford could have four relatively fresh legs for this event nationally.

Part of the reason the relay didn’t go 6:48 at Pac-12s was because Stanford left Manuel off the relay to focus on the other four relay events. Manuel is the team’s best sprinter, and should be a lock for the 200 and 400 free relays. She’s also a game-changing leg on the 200 and 400 medleys, which makes it tough to justify using her on this relay, which leads the NCAA by four seconds.

From a team perspective, the smartest move is probably to use Manuel on the other four relays. But could you really pass up a 200 free relay that could have two 1:39 splits, perhaps even a 1:39 leadoff leg? Stanford will have to think hard about subbing in Lia Neal (no sprint slouch herself) into a medley relay to give Manuel a shot at an incredible 800 free relay record.

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I really hope they swim Manuel on this! It would be amazing to witness!

E Gamble

I totally disagree. Simone is needed on all the sprint relays. Not all the relays are guaranteed win. And she does not need to be swimming three 200 frees at NCs. We’ll leave that to Katie Ledecky. They can win and destroy the record again without her. You just can’t take chances like that with a rested Smoliga and Weitzel. It’s NCs…the win matters more than the time. If they can sweep all the relays like Pac-12, it’s over.


There will be only one event on Day1- 800 relay. I don’t see Simone to be much hurt to swim this relay. She can be lead off to make 200y individual statement and to take easy on individual race of skip it all together if there is a concern of getting tired before her key races.


It isn’t an issue of getting tired, but an issue of will the other relays win without her. This relay will without her… guarantees on the other relays. Stanford hasn’t the NCAA team title in forever. This is about winning and not seeing how fast one relay will go.


If she does the 800 FR, what relay should she give up?

E Gamble

Simone does not need to make a statement. She’s already has the fastest time in the nation in the 200 free. And if she puts up a good time…that’s not going to scare Katie Ledecky from trying to beat her.


I agree. The goal this year is to win the championship, first and foremost. Taking Simone off a relay could be a swing of 10+ points. Right now it looks like Stanford has a big cushion, but when a team hasn’t won a championship since 1998 they need to approach every race like nothing is guaranteed.


I watch throw lia Neal on the end of the 400 medley, she’s still a stud split, and use Manuel in the 800 free just so this record goes to a crazy level


“Only” 1:40.00

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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