SwimSwam’s 2019-2020 NCAA Division I Women’s Preseason Picks

The NCAA swim season is upon us, and it’s time for a time-honored tradition: SwimSwam’s staff predicting NCAA event champions half a year out.

We polled SwimSwam staff for event predictions and compiled them below for a “composite” prediction of the most-predicted champions. A couple factors to keep in mind:

  • While most of the major redshirts, gap years and Olympic deferrals have come to light in the past month, there will probably be a few more trickling in as meets start. We hope that doesn’t affect our picks, but very well could, especially on relays.
  • We tried to weigh the focus various athletes would have on short course yards vs long course meters. One big factor, for example, are Canadian swimmers, who have their Olympic Trial meet very close to the NCAA Championships. That didn’t scare all of us away from Canadian athletes (Maggie MacNeil was still particularly hard for many to overlook), but it does have an impact on all of our predictions.
  • Relays are especially tough to call, given the guesswork you have to do on four legs, usually with some freshmen, transfers or other new faces filling in for graduated seniors.
  • This post makes a great place to compile your own picks – feel free to join the fun in the comment section!

2019-2020 NCAA Preseason Picks (finalized 9/18/2019)

**Starred** athletes are unanimous picks.

Top Pick Braden Jared Karl James Spencer Reid Andrew Torrey Top Returning Swimmer
800 Free Relay Stanford Cal Stanford USC Stanford Stanford Cal Stanford Stanford Stanford
200 Free Relay Cal Cal NC State Cal Cal Cal NC State Cal Cal Cal
500 Free Brooke Forde, Stanford Brooke Forde, Stanford Brooke Forde, Stanford Paige Madden, Virginia Brooke Forde, Stanford Paige Madden, Virginia Brooke Forde,
Stanford
Paige Madden, Virginia Brooke Forde,
Stanford
Brooke Forde, Stanford
200 IM **Beata Nelson, Wisconsin** Beata Nelson, Wisconsin Beata Nelson, Wisconsin Beata Nelson, Wisconsin Beata Nelson, Wisconsin Beata Nelson, Wisconsin Beata Nelson, Wisconsin Beata Nelson, Wisconsin Beata Nelson, Wisconsin Beata Nelson, Wisconsin
50 Free Abbey Weitzeil, Cal Abbey Weitzeil, Cal Abbey Weitzeil, Cal Abbey Weitzeil, Cal Abbey Weitzeil, Cal Abbey Weitzeil, Cal Abbey Weitzeil,
Cal
Erika Brown, Tennessee Abbey Weitzeil,
Cal
Abbey Weitzeil, Cal
400 Medley Relay **Cal** Cal Cal Cal Cal Cal Cal Cal Cal Cal
400 IM Brooke Forde, Stanford Calypso Sheridan, Northwestern Brooke Forde, Stanford Brooke Forde, Stanford Brooke Forde, Stanford Brooke Forde, Stanford Brooke Forde, Stanford Brooke Forde, Stanford Brooke Forde, Stanford Brooke Forde, Stanford
100 Fly Maggie MacNeil, Michigan Louise Hansson, USC Maggie MacNeil, Michigan Maggie MacNeil, Michigan Maggie MacNeil, Michigan Maggie MacNeil, Michigan Maggie MacNeil,
Michigan
Louise Hansson, USC Louise Hansson, USC Louise Hansson, USC
200 Free Madden/Weitzeil (tie) Paige Madden, Virginia Paige Madden, Virginia Abbey Weitzeil, Cal Abbey Weitzeil, Cal Paige Madden, Virginia Paige Madden, Virginia Abbey Weitzeil, Cal Abbey Weitzeil, Cal Abbey Weitzeil, Cal
100 Breast Sophie Hansson, NC State Sophie Hansson, NC State Lindsey Kozelsky, Minnesota Emily Weiss, Indiana Sophie Hansson, NC State Emily Weiss, Indiana Sophie Hansson,
NC State
Sophie Hansson,
NC State
Emily Weiss, Indiana Sophie Hansson, NC State
100 Back Beata Nelson, Wisconsin Beata Nelson, Wisconsin Beata Nelson, Wisconsin Katharine Berkoff, NC State Beata Nelson, Wisconsin Beata Nelson, Wisconsin Beata Nelson,
Wisconsin
Beata Nelson,
Wisconsin
Beata Nelson, Wisconsin Beata Nelson, Wisconsin
200 Medley Relay NC State NC State NC State Cal NC State NC State NC State Cal Cal Tennessee
1650 Free Kowal/McMahon (tie) Molly Kowal, Ohio State Kensey McMahon, Alabama Kensey McMahon, Alabama Phoebe Hines, Hawaii Kensey McMahon, Alabama Molly Kowal, Ohio State Phoebe Hines, Hawaii Molly Kowal, Ohio State Molly Kowal, Ohio State
200 Back **Beata Nelson, Wisconsin** Beata Nelson, Wisconsin Beata Nelson, Wisconsin Beata Nelson, Wisconsin Beata Nelson, Wisconsin Beata Nelson, Wisconsin Beata Nelson, Wisconsin Beata Nelson, Wisconsin Beata Nelson, Wisconsin Beata Nelson, Wisconsin
100 Free Abbey Weitzeil, Cal Abbey Weitzeil, Cal Abbey Weitzeil, Cal Abbey Weitzeil, Cal Abbey Weitzeil, Cal Abbey Weitzeil, Cal Abbey Weitzeil,
Cal
Erika Brown, Tennessee Abbey Weitzeil,
Cal
Anna Hopkin, Arkansas
200 Breast Sophie Hansson, NC State Anna Belousova, Texas A&M Anna Belousova, Texas A&M Allie Raab, Stanford Sophie Hansson, NC State Sophie Hansson, NC State Sophie Hansson, NC State Anna Belousova, Texas A&M Sophie Hansson, NC State Sophie Hansson, NC State
200 Fly Drabot/Hansson (tie) Grace Oglesby, Louisville Katie Drabot, Stanford Louise Hansson, USC Louise Hansson, USC Katie Drabot, Stanford Katie Drabot,
Stanford
Louise Hansson, USC Grace Oglesby, Louisville Louise Hansson, USC
400 Free Relay Cal Cal Cal Virginia Cal Cal Virginia Cal Cal Cal

Previous Picks Revisited

Just for fun, we’re looking back at how our writers did the past two preseasons:

The half-score is for the 200 IM, where our consensus pick was a 4-4 tie between champion Ella Eastin and Kathleen Baker.

SwimSwam’s Top Pick Braden Jared Karl James Spencer Reid Andrew Torrey Robert Lauren
2019 11/18 10/18 9/18 7/18 9/18 N/A 11/18 11/18 10/18 12/18 10/18
2018 16.5/18 14/18 11/18 17/18 13/18 N/A N/A N/A N/A 15/18 16/18

2018 turned out to be an extremely easy year to predict. That tends to happen when most of the events are dominated by heavy favorites like Katie Ledecky, Simone Manuel, Ella Eastin and Lilly King. Last year, the toughest piece to predict this far out was event lineups: most of us didn’t exactly know where Taylor Ruck would swim. A couple major upsets chipped in too: Beata Nelson over Ella Eastin in the 200 IM would have been an insanely bold call last fall. Louise Hansson over Eastin in the 200 fly was another pretty major upset.

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Landrew

Karl, I’m interested to hear why you picked Berkoff over Nelson in the 100 back. Seems pretty bold to me

Chaitha D.

I actually agree. I think she will have a breakout year

Karl Ortegon

I definitely like to have fun with these, and my prediction is really hinged on Berkoff blowing up here.

I guess I’m wondering, with zero LCM progression from Nelson, if she’s really going to get all that much faster. Berkoff being under 50.0 feels very possible, especially with the sprint success NC State has had (and look at the progressions freshman year from people like Kylee Alons).

If Beata is on, I don’t know if Berkoff is going to get to a 49-low (she’s definitely better than Nelson in LCM). But I can see Berkoff pulling out a 49.3 or 49.4 and edging her out.

Landrew

Hmm fair enough. I think LCM progression in the backstrokes isn’t all that important when thinking about SCY progression. Underwaters really matter so much more in SCY than LCM, particularly in the 100, and that really is where Nelson’s strength is.

Agree, I was thinking more so that this summer Berkoff looks a lot better and I think she has a big year coming.

Ryu

200 fre is gonna be so interesting this year!!

PK Doesn't Like His Long Name

I think I would take Pitzer in that event this year.

Heyitsme

Lol

Hmmm.....

How many laps would it take for Brooke Forde to win the 500?

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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