SwimSwam Pulse: 34% Pick 1650 Free As Most Wide Open Event At Women’s NCAAs

SwimSwam Pulse is a recurring feature tracking and analyzing the results of our periodic A3 Performance Polls. You can cast your vote in our newest poll on the SwimSwam homepage, about halfway down the page on the right side.

Our most recent poll asked SwimSwam readers which race is most wide open at Women’s NCAAs:

Question: With so many big favorites, which event is most up for grabs at Women’s NCAAs?


  • 1650 free – 34.2%
  • 100 breast – 23.4%
  • 200 free – 18.3%
  • 200 fly – 9.8%
  • 200 back – 8.2%
  • 200 breast – 5.1%
  • Other – 1.0%

Three swimmers hold the top seed in all three of their events at the Women’s NCAA Championships: Gretchen WalshAlex Walsh and Bella Sims.

It’s fair to say that the Walsh sisters are clear-cut favorites in their respective events, and Sims, while she doesn’t hold a massive lead on the psych sheets in any of her entries, is surely the frontrunner in all three, with the 500 free in particular being a no-brainer given her lifetime best (4:28.64) is nearly four seconds faster than her nation-leading time this season (4:32.53).

With at least seven races having a bonafide favorite, we polled SwimSwam readers on which race was most “up for grabs” next week in Athens.

Coming out on top with more than a third of the votes at 34.2% was the 1650 free, where Georgia’s Abby McCulloh holds the top seed by more than five seconds after clocking 15:40.96 at SECs.

That swim at the conference championships marked a nine-second best time for the junior, who was 12th at NCAAs last season in 15:57.34. As a freshman, she finished 5th in what was her former best time of 15:49.87, so she’s proven she can perform on the big stage.

Other contenders include Indiana’s Ching Hwee Gan, last year’s runner-up to the now-graduated Kensey McMahon, Stanford’s Aurora Roghair, the #2 seed on the psych sheets who set a PB of 15:46.35 at Pac-12s, and Texas’ Erica Sullivan, who has the fastest best time in the field (her 15:23.81 from 2019 ranks #2 all-time behind Katie Ledecky) and was the runner-up in 2022 and 5th in 2023.

We also can’t forget about Wisconsin junior Paige McKenna, who won the national title in her freshman year and will be in the fastest heat at NCAAs as the #8 seed.

Placing second in the poll was the 100 breast, where some heavy-hitters occupy the top five spots on the psych sheets.

Mona McSharryAnna ElendtKaitlyn DoblerJasmine Nocentini and Lydia Jacoby rank 5th through 9th all-time in the event, owning best times within 16 one-hundredths of one another.

McSharry has the quickest PB among the group at 56.87, set this season, while Jacoby’s 57.03 trails, but we can’t forget that she’s the defending national champion (not to mention the reigning Olympic gold medalist).

The only other event to earn at least 10% of votes was the 200 free, where Sims leads the field after clocking 1:40.90 leading off Florida’s 800 free relay at SECs. USC’s Minna Abraham and Sims’ Gator teammate Isabel Ivey have also been sub-1:42 this season, and Indiana’s Anna Peplowski (1:42.04) was close at Big Tens.

The 200 fly nearly got 10% of votes with Emma Sticklen leading a talented field that includes her Texas teammates Kelly Pash and Olivia Bray, and the 200 back was next up at 8.2%.

That event is led by Sims but also has verifiable challengers in Phoebe BaconEmma Sticklen and Josephine Fuller.

Below, vote in our new A3 Performance Pollwhich asks: Which matchup are you anticipating the most at Men’s NCAAs?

Which matchup excites you the most at men's NCAAs?

View Results

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A3 Performance is an independently-owned, performance swimwear company built on a passion for swimming, athletes, and athletic performance. We encourage swimmers to swim better and faster at all ages and levels, from beginners to Olympians.  Driven by a genuine leader and devoted staff that are passionate about swimming and service, A3 Performance strives to inspire and enrich the sport of swimming with innovative and impactful products that motivate swimmers to be their very best – an A3 Performer.

The A3 Performance Poll is courtesy of A3 Performance, a SwimSwam partner.

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Long Strokes
2 months ago

Without Katie Ledecky or Lia Thomas in the mix, the distance events have been wide open for some time.

Reply to  Long Strokes
2 months ago

Ledecky and Thomas in the same sentence there is crazy

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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