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, or you can find the poll embedded at the bottom of this post.
Our most recent poll asked SwimSwam readers to pick the 2020 U.S. Olympian that will score the most points in their freshman season at the 2022 Women’s NCAA Championships:
Question: Which female U.S. Olympian will score the most points as a freshman at the 2022 NCAA Championships?
There are four women entering their freshman season in the NCAA that are coming off of representing the United States in Tokyo, all of whom won medals. The poll asked readers which of the four would be the highest scoring swimmer at the 2022 NCAA Championships in their first season.
It’s important to point out that Torri Huske, 18, is the only one of the quartet that’s entering the NCAA directly out of her Grade 12 year of high school. Regan Smith and Emma Weyant, both 19, deferred enrollment for one year, while Erica Sullivan, 21, was first eligible to compete collegiately in 2018-19.
More than 55 percent of the voters picked Smith to be the top scorer as a freshman at NCAAs, which should come as no surprise given that she’s the American Record holder in the 100 (49.16) and 200-yard backstroke (1:47.16), and is also the second-fastest swimmer of all-time in the 200 butterfly (1:49.78).
Assuming those are the three events Smith will ultimately race at NCAAs, the incoming Stanford Cardinal will tackle a difficult double on the final night of competition, with the 200 back and 200 fly only separated by a few events.
The three-time Tokyo Olympic medalist will also have a trio of tough outs in the backstroke events, with defending 100-yard champ Katharine Berkoff of NC State, defending 200 winner Phoebe Bacon of Wisconsin, and Alabama’s Rhyan White, who was the upset winner over Smith in the 200 back (with Bacon second) at the U.S. Olympic Trials, all set to take her on.
Even with the double and the tough matchups, Smith is still a favorite to potentially go three-for-three individually at NCAAs, making it easy to see why she was the leading vote-getter.
Sitting second was her new Stanford teammate Huske, who is coming off a phenomenal summer that included breaking the American Record in the 100 butterfly (long course) on multiple occasions and finishing .01 outside of an individual Olympic medal in the event.
Huske, who won a silver medal on the U.S. women’s 400 medley relay in Tokyo, took the top spot in our re-rank of the girls’ high school class of 2021 recruits, and heads to The Farm with times fast enough to make NCAA ‘A’ finals across six events.
Huske’s projected NCAA lineup would likely include the 50 free, 100 free and 100 fly—though she could also be a contender in the 200 free, 200 fly and 200 IM—where she’ll face some tough matchups. If she goes with the three sprints and avoids the 200s, Huske will clash with Maggie MacNeil and potentially Kate Douglass on all three. Those two are reigning NCAA champions, and would make Huske an underdog to win any individual titles in her first season, which would appear to give the point-scoring edge to Smith.
Weyant, who won Olympic silver in the women’s 400 IM, is headed to Virginia where she’ll join an elite medley crew that includes Douglass and Alex Walsh, who both made the podium in the 200 IM in Tokyo. She’ll be a top contender in the 400 IM right off the bat at NCAAs, but probably won’t be a serious title challenger in any other events right away, diminishing her point potential.
Sullivan only received 1.6 percent of votes despite appearing to be the odds-on favorite to win the 500/1650 double this season. The University of Texas commit is coming off of winning silver behind Katie Ledecky in the first-ever Olympic women’s 1500 freestyle.
Below, vote in our new A3 Performance Poll, which asks: what hypothetical swim that never happened would you most want to go back in time to see what would’ve happened:
The A3 Performance Poll is courtesy of A3 Performance, a SwimSwam partner.