2023 NCAA Division I Women’s Championships: Day 3 Finals Live Recap

2023 NCAA WOMEN’S SWIMMING AND DIVING CHAMPIONSHIPS

TOP 10 TEAMS THRU DAY 2

  1. Virginia – 208.5
  2. Texas – 162
  3. Louisville – 117
  4. Stanford – 106
  5. Ohio State – 93
  6. Indiana – 83
  7. Florida – 76
  8. Cal – 74
  9. UNC-Chapel Hill – 73
  10. Georgia – 66.5

DAY 3 FINALS HEAT SHEET

It’s moving day at the 2023 Women’s Division I NCAAs. With finals of the 400 IM, 100 fly, 200 free, 100 breast, 100 back, 3-meter diving, and 400 medley relay, Virginia will aim to put this meet firmly out of reach. The Cavaliers had a good morning, picking up 9.5 projected points versus seed. Stanford had the best morning though, as their current seeds have them up 32 points from the scored psych sheet. There’s plenty of racing to be done though, and you have to swim to get the points.

We’ll kick things off with the 400 IM, where Alex Walsh aims to defend her 400 IM title. She finished third in the 200 IM yesterday, coming in a hundredth under her old NCAA record. The Cavaliers look to get the session started with a bang, as they not only have Walsh as the top seed, but Ella Nelson sitting second just a hundredth behind her.

Then, it’s on to what could be the race of the meet: the 100 fly. It’s the first time that Kate Douglass and Maggie MacNeil will go head-to-head and both having shown themselves to be on incredible form at this meet as they each took down an NCAA record last night. Also having a great meet is Torri Huske, who dropped a massive personal best in the 200 IM yesterday to finish second. She’s the top qualifier and was the only one in the field sub-50 in prelims (49.77). Looking to spoil the party for the three favorites are Emma Sticklen (50.00), Claire Curzan (50.45), and Gabi Albiero (50.46).

The 200 freestyle looks to be anyone’s race. Defending champion Taylor Ruck posted the fastest time of the morning with a 1:42.70, but Virginia freshman Aimee Canny looked strong and pushed Ruck in the closing yards of their heat. Brooklyn Douthwright still holds the fastest season best of the field, and she’s got the home pool advantage. Just five and six-hundredths behind Douthwright are Kayla Wilson, Anna Peplowski, and Maxine Parker

The 100 breast should be a great race between defending champion Kaitlyn Dobler and the Texas duo of Anna Elendt and Lydia Jacoby. Additionally, OSU’s breaststroke pair of Josie Panitz and Hannah Bach are lurking, as is the SEC record holder, Tennessee’s Mona McSharry.

In the 100 back, Gretchen Walsh looks to claim her first individual title of the meet. She threw down a 49.12–a new pool record–to decisively take the top seed heading into finals. She’ll have to unseat American record holder Katharine Berkoff though, who’s aiming for a 3-peat in the event. And don’t forget about Curzan, who’ll be on her second individual race of the session but could pull out the win.

400 INDIVIDUAL MEDLEY – FINALS

  • NCAA Record: 3:54.60, Ella Eastin (Stanford) – 2018
  • Meet Record: 3:54.60, Ella Eastin (Stanford) – 2018
  • American Record: 3:54.60, Ella Eastin (Stanford) – 2018
  • US Open Record: 3:54.60, Ella Eastin (Stanford) – 2018
  • Pool Record: 3:58.36, Elizabeth Beisel (California) – 2012
  • 2022 Champion: Alex Walsh (Virginia) – 3:57.25

Top 8:

  1. Alex Walsh (Virginia) – 3:57.24
  2. Ella Nelson (Virginia) – 3:59.54
  3. Emma Weyant (Florida) – 4:03.50
  4. Mabel Zavaros (Florida) – 4:04.09
  5. Grace Sheble (NC State) – 4:04.83
  6. Megan Van Berkom (Minnesota) – 4:05.37
  7. Lucy Bell (Stanford) – 4:05.56
  8. Lauren Poole (Kentucky) – 4:05.74

She wasn’t able to defend her 200 IM title yesterday, but Alex Walsh left no doubt about who was going to win the 400 IM. She successfully defender her title in a pool record time of 3:57.24, knocking a hundredth off her lifetime best. She led from the start of the race, throwing down a 53.51 100 fly split and a 59.66 on backstroke. Walsh was ahead of NCAA record pace through the first 200-yards, and about .18 seconds off it after a 1:07.13 breaststroke split. She fell off the pace on the freestyle leg with a 56.94 but still had more than enough space to the rest of the field and easily took the win by over two seconds.

Walsh’s teammate, senior Ella Nelson earned her second NCAA-runner up trophy in this event. She was 2nd in 2021 and 3rd in 2022. She was about two-tenths off her personal best from ACCs, but was still under the 4:00 barrier again with a 3:59.54. She really moved up through the breaststroke leg. In the post-race interview, it was clear how much Walsh and Nelson valued this 1-2 finish together and they did so in decisive fashion, as Emma Weyant was a distant third in 4:03.40.

Gators Weyant and Mabel Zavaros went 3-4. Weyant dropped time from this morning, but was still off the 4:01.18 she went to win ACCs. For her part, Zavaros clipped her lifetime best in 4:04.08.

Freshman Lucy Bell dropped more time in finals, grabbing seventh in 4:05.56. It’s her first time under 4:06.

Mid-major swimmer Nicole Maier of Miami (OH) won the ‘B’ final in a big lifetime best of 4:05.84. She didn’t event swim this race at NCAAs last year, and not only did she make the ‘B’ final but now she’s gotten Miami (OH) on the board with 9 points.

100 BUTTERFLY – FINALS

Top 8:

  1. Kate Douglass (Virginia) – 48.46 (NCAA and American Records)
  2. Maggie MacNeil (LSU) – 48.51
  3. Torri Huske (Stanford) – 48.96
  4. Claire Curzan (Stanford) – 50.09
  5. Gabi Albiero (Louisville)/Emma Sticklen (Texas) – 50.15
  6. (tie)
  7. Kylee Alons (NC State) – 50.44
  8. Kit Kat Zenick (Ohio State) – 51.11

The 100 fly is a race we’ve been excited for since September, and wow, did it live up to the hype. The top three swimmers Kate Douglass, Maggie MacNeiland Torri Huske were all under 49 seconds, and the top two were both under the previous NCAA records.

The three turned at the 50 in the order they finished, with Douglass turning first in 22.48. MacNeil was just behind after a long second turn in 22.56, and Huske was running third in 22.75. They were the only three out sub-23. MacNeil charged home on the second 50, splitting 25.95. It came down to the touch between her and Douglass, and in the end it was the Cavalier who got her hands on the wall first for the new NCAA record of 48.46, five-hundredths ahead of MacNeil’s 48.51.

Huske’s 48.96 was just off the previous NCAA mark in 48.96, cutting .21 seconds from her lifetime best. She came home in a 26.21. The Cardinal went 3-4 with her freshman teammate Claire Curzan grabbing fourth in 50.09. Curzan was just ahead of Gabi Albiero and Emma Sticklen, who tied for fifth in 50.15.

NC State’s Abby Arens won the ‘B’ final in a lifetime best of 50.60, dropping from the 50.84 she swam at 2023 ACCs. She beat Northwestern fifth-year Miriam Guevara, who has now broken the program’s 100 fly record twice today and just brought it under 51 for the first time in 50.91.

200 FREESTYLE – FINALS

  • NCAA Record: 1:39.10, Missy Franklin (California) – 2015
  • Meet Record: 1:39.10, Missy Franklin (California) – 2015
  • American Record: 1:39.10, Missy Franklin (California) – 2015
  • US Open Record: 1:39.10, Missy Franklin (California) – 2015
  • Pool Record: 1:41.40, Missy Franklin (California) – 2013
  • 2022 Champion: Taylor Ruck (Stanford) – 1:41.12

Top 8:

  1. Taylor Ruck (Stanford) – 1:42.36
  2. Brooklyn Douthwright (Tennessee) – 1:42.41
  3. Aimee Canny (Virginia) – 1:42.50
  4. Kayla Wilson (Stanford) – 1:42.90
  5. Maxine Parker (Virginia) – 1:43.48
  6. Anna Peplowski (Indiana) – 1:43.57
  7. Chloe Stepanek (Texas A&M) – 1:43.76
  8. Paige Hetrick (Louisville) – 1:44.32

Taylor Ruck got it done, holding off late charges from Brooklyn Douthwright and Aimee Canny to repeat as the NCAA champion. Ruck took the race to the field, turning first at the 50 in 23.23, more than a half second ahead of second place Chloe Stepanek. She held onto that lead to the finish, but got tired on the last 50; she was the only one in the field with a closing split over 27 seconds (27.27). She had enough left in the tank though, and touched in 1:42.36, five-hundredths ahead of Douthwright.

Douthwright, a sophomore at Tennessee, shaved four-hundredths off her lifetime best from SECs to win second. It’s a huge improvement for her from this meet last year, where she was 25th in 1:45.87.

After arriving at Virginia this semester, freshman Aimee Canny continues to impress. She earned third in 1:42.50, dropping .12 seconds from her lifetime best. Kayla Wilson, the other freshman in the field, also swam a lifetime best. She clocked 1:42.90, her first time sub-1:43 and adding a fourth place finish for Stanford to go along with Ruck’s title.

NC State junior Abbey Webb won a nail-biter of a race in the ‘B’ final of the 200 free. At the touch, it was her, Emma Atkinson, and Kelly Pash all with a chance to win. Webb touched first in 1:43.48, a tenth ahead of Atkinson (1:43.58) and .13 ahead of Pash (1:43.61).

100 BREASTSTROKE – FINALS

  • NCAA Record: 55.73, Lilly King (Indiana) – 2019
  • Meet Record: 55.73, Lilly King (Indiana) – 2019
  • American Record: 55.73, Lilly King (Indiana) – 2019
  • US Open Record: 55.73, Lilly King (Indiana) – 2019
  • Pool Record: 56.64, Molly Hannis (Tennessee) – 2017
  • 2022 Champion: Kaitlyn Dobler (USC) – 56.93

Top 8:

  1. Lydia Jacoby (Texas) – 57.03
  2. Mona McSharry (Tennessee) – 57.16
  3. Anna Elendt (Texas) – 57.29
  4. Kaitlyn Dobler (USC) – 57.50
  5. Heather MacCausland (NC State) – 57.74
  6. Hannah Bach (Ohio State) – 58.08
  7. Josie Panitz (Ohio State) – 58.12
  8. Emma Weber (Virginia) – 58.95

In a finish eerily reminiscent of the one that earned her Olympic gold in Tokyo, Lydia Jacoby got what she described post-race as her “first big win since the Olympics.” She got the win in a new personal best time of 57.03, undercutting the 57.29 that she swam last month at Big-12s. She was third at the 50 behind Mona McSharry and Anna Elendt in 26.93, then powered home in 30.10 to sneak ahead and win the title.

Her teammate Anna Elendt used a strong third 25 to finish third in a season best of 57.29. It’s an improvement on last year, when she finished fifth after adding time from prelims to finals.

Also jumping up in the standings was Tennessee’s McSharry. McSharry, who’s an Irish Olympian, finished fourth last year in 57.18, which was her lifetime best. She dropped down to 57.16–a new SEC record–to place second in her home pool.

Last year’s champion Kaitlyn Dobler took fourth in 57.50, off her season best of 56.94 which she swam at midseason.

Heather MacCausland has made big strides this season, and she showed that off here with a fifth-place finish in 57.74. She came into the meet with a personal best of 58.16, then lowered it to 58.14 in prelims before going her first sub-58 time here in finals. Over the course of the day, the senior has taken another .42 seconds off her lifetime best.

The ‘B’ final went to Michigan’s Letitia Sim, who posted 58.48 to win ahead of Duke freshman Kaelyn Gridley.

100 BACKSTROKE – FINALS

  • NCAA Record: 48.74, Katherine Berkoff (NC State) – 2022
  • Meet Record: 48.74, Katherine Berkoff (NC State) – 2022
  • American Record: 48.74, Katherine Berkoff (NC State) – 2022
  • US Open Record: 48.74, Katherine Berkoff (NC State) – 2022
  • Pool Record: 49.12, Gretchen Walsh (Virginia) – 2023
  • 2022 Champion: Katherine Berkoff (NC State) – 48.74

Top 8:

  1. Gretchen Walsh (Virginia) – 48.26 (NCAA and American Records)
  2. Katharine Berkoff (NC State) – 49.13
  3. Claire Curzan (Stanford) – 50.08
  4. Phoebe Bacon (Wisconsin) – 50.54
  5. Olivia Bray (Texas) – 50.61
  6. Isabelle Stadden (Cal) – 51.03
  7. Josephine Fuller (Tennessee) – 51.18
  8. Rhyan White (Alabama) – 51.26

After getting second in the 50 freestyle yesterday and losing her NCAA record, Gretchen Walsh responded by going out and earning the 100 backstroke title in NCAA and American record fashion. She was out in a blistering pace, hitting 23.02 to her feet. She was over half a second ahead of Katharine Berkoff, who flipped second, at that point in the race.

She only continued to extend her lead and used her powerful underwaters to charge home in 25.24, stopping the clock at 48.26 to destroy the NCAA and American record, which Berkoff set at 48.74 at 2022 NCAAs. With her time, Walsh has taken .48 seconds off that record, earning her first individual title of the meet and her first career title in the 100 backstroke.

After winning this event the last two years, Berkoff takes the runner-up spot in a season best 49.13. It was a solid effort from Berkoff and she had a solid grip on second the whole time, she just couldn’t bridge the gap to Walsh on her back half (which is where she usually explodes).

Claire Curzan finished off her 100 fly/100 back double by taking third here in 50.08 (which is a hundredth faster than what she went earlier in the 100 fly).

Phoebe Bacon and Olivia Bray were the other two swimmers in the ‘A’ heat to go 50-point, with the Wisconsin junior grabbing fourth in 50.54. That’s seven-hundredths off what she went in prelims, but finishing fourth is a big upgrade from last year for Bacon, when she missed the championship heat and won the ‘B’ final. Bray’s 50.61 is a lifetime best cutting eight-hundredths off the best time she went at this meet last year.

UNC’s Grace Countie, who made the ‘A’ final the previous two years, won the ‘B’ final in a season best of 50.81, which is just off her personal best of 50.77. She held off a back-half surge from Emma Muzzy, who clocked 51.27 to out-touch her teammate, freshman Kennedy Noble (51.32).

3-Meter Diving — FINALS

  • NCAA Record: 437.75, Christina Loukas (Indiana) — 2009
  • Meet Record: 437.75, Christina Loukas (Indiana) — 2009
  • Pool Record: 407.30, Brooke Schultz (South Carolina) — 2022
  • 2022 Champion: Sarah Bacon (Minnesota) — 409.25

Top 8:

  1. Aranza Vazquez Montano (UNC-Chapel Hill) – 385.80
  2. Anne Fowler (Indiana) – 369.90
  3. Brooke Schultz (South Carolina) – 364.25
  4. Delaney Schnell (Arizona) – 362.30
  5. Mia Vallee (Miami (FL)) – 355.65
  6. Carolina Sculti (USC) – 328.95
  7. Joy Zhu (Minnesota) – 322.55
  8. Else Praasterink (Louisville) – 313.50

And she just keeps rolling. On the 1-meter board yesterday, Aranza Vazquez Montano became UNC-Chapel Hill’s first NCAA champion. Today, she’s gone 2-for-2, winning the 3-meter board with 385.80 points. Last year, she won the ‘B’ final in 355.80 points. Through two days of NCAA competition, Vazquez Montano has not trailed after a round. She’s also moved her championship winning streak up to 5, as at ACCs, she swept the 1-meter, 3-meter, and platform.

Indiana’s Anne Fowler earned second in 369.90. It was close between second and fourth, and there was some question as to whether either Brooke Schultz or Delaney Schnell would catch her on their final dives. Schultz moved ahead of Schnell for third, but neither were able to outdo Fowler, who put up her highest point total of the final on her last dive.

Mia Vallee, Carolina Scultiand Joy Zhu were All-Americans in the 1-meter and now they’ve added All-America honors in the 3-meter as well.

Else Praasterink finished eighth for Louisville. She is the first Louisville diver man or woman, to make the ‘A’ final in NCAA Championship history.

400 Medley Relay — TIMED FINAL

  • NCAA Record: 3:21.80, Virginia (G. Walsh, A. Walsh, K. Douglass, A. Canny) – 2023
  • Meet Record: 3:22.34, Virginia (G. Walsh, A. Wenger, A. Walsh, K. Douglass) — 2022
  • American Record: 3:22.34, Virginia (G. Walsh, A. Wenger, A. Walsh, K. Douglass) — 2022
  • U.S. Open Record: 3:21.80, Virginia (G. Walsh, A. Walsh, K. Douglass, A. Canny) – 2023
  • Pool Record: 3:26.64, Alabama (R. White, A. Wiseman, M. Scott, C. Dupre) — 2020
  • 2022 Champion: Virginia (G. Walsh, A. Wenger, A. Walsh, K. Douglass) — 3:22.34

Top 8:

  1. Virginia (G. Walsh, A. Walsh, K. Douglass, A. Canny) – 3:22.39
  2. NC State (K. Berkoff, H. MacCausland, K. Alons, A. Arens) – 3:24.66
  3. Texas (O.Bray, L. Jacoby, E. Sticklen, K. Pash) – 3:25.18
  4. Stanford – 3:26.10
  5. Tennessee – 3:27.92
  6. Ohio State – 3:28.18
  7. Florida – 3:28.36
  8. Louisville – 3:28.58

To nobody’s surprise, the Cavaliers took the win here in the 400 medley relay and kept their relay winning streak alive. They now just need a win in the 400 free relay–where they’re heavily favored–to sweep all five relays. The last time a team did that was Stanford in 2018.

The Cavaliers were off their NCAA record from ACCs, but the important thing to keep in mind there was that at ACCs because of the five day schedule, three of the four were rested. Today, Gretchen Walsh, Alex Walsh, Kate Douglassand Aimee Canny all swam individual events this session. G. Walsh got them out in front of the field right away, opening in a 49.39 100 back. Her older sister split 56.79, just a hundredth slower than Lydia Jacoby‘s 56.78 (the fastest breaststroke split in the field. Douglass fired off a 48.94 100 fly and turned things over to Canny, who anchored in 47.27.

The real race was for second, and NC State got the better of Texas, 3:24.66 to 3:25.18, a nice rebound after their disqualification in the 200 free relay. Berkoff clocked a 50.10 100 back–like all the 100 backstrokers in the heat, she was slower than she went in the individual final. Then, Heather MacCausland split 57.39 continuing to show off her improvements, and Kylee Alons split 49.96 on fly. Abby Arens anchored the Wolfpack in 47.21 to keep the lead ahead over Texas steady.

Along with Jacoby’s speedy 56.78 split, the Longhorns got a 50.89 leadoff from Olivia Bray, a 50.19 100 fly split from Emma Sticklen, and a 47.32 anchor from Kelly Pash. They clocked 3:25.18, taking just over a tenth off their entry time.

Stanford’s squad of Claire Curzan (50.81), Allie Raab (59.20), Torri Huske (49.59), and Taylor Ruck (46.50) touched third in 3:26.10. They were off both NC State and Texas’ pace but were well ahead of fifth-place Tennessee. That’s a big improvement from last year for the Lady Vols: they jumped five places from their 10th place finish in 2022.

There were several disqualifications in Heat 1. Kentucky, Indiana, and Arkansas were all disqualified from the race. Kentucky had won the heat in 3:30.65, which would have earned them 13th place, just ahead of Alabama.

Top 20 Teams Thru Day 3

  1. Virginia – 374.5
  2. Texas – 272.5
  3. Stanford – 239
  4. Louisville – 191.5
  5. NC State – 190
  6. Ohio State – 170
  7. Florida – 146
  8. Tennessee – 135
  9. UNC-Chapel Hill – 125
  10. Indiana – 121
  11. Cal – 105
  12. USC – 86
  13. LSU – 79
  14. Alabama – 75
  15. Georgia – 70.5
  16. Wisconsin – 67
  17. Kentucky – 42
  18. Minnesota – 37
  19. Miami (FL) – 36
  20. Arizona – 32

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Awsi Dooger
9 days ago

Butterfly as the race of the night but Gretchen Walsh with the swim of the night. I was astounded. I’ve never seen her look so athletic and urgent. From the plunge. In fact, her feet were flapping away before they reached the water.

THEO
9 days ago

This Virginia team really does feel like a level of all-time star power greatness unlike anything we have seen. Even more than Stanford in the ledecky+Manuel days. I mean they’ve now done collectively 3 individual swims from two swimmers that were dressel-level record shattering. And there’s a whole day left and I think there will be at least one more (Douglass 2breast). And they’ll almost certainly sweep all 5 relays, setting records in 4/5 this season. And A-Walsh didn’t set individual records but is throwing down an incredible ncaa performance in her own right. It’s just absurd. I mean to be more incredible than this team you’d need to break 5/5 relay records in the same season and 5 individual… Read more »

jeff
Reply to  THEO
9 days ago

I do see the comparison- Alex has broken the US Open record in 1 event, Gretchen has done it in 2, and Douglass has done it in 4. That’s exactly as much as Ledecky’s 3, Eastin’s 3, and Manuel’s 1, and this is coming post-Covid where you might expect events to not have advanced this much.

For some events that I think are pretty reasonable 1 to 1 comparisons, Gretchen and Kate’s 100 frees match up pretty well with Manuel and Ledecky’s 200 free, Alex’s 200 fly matches up with Eastin’s 200 back, and Alex’s 400 IM matches up with Manuel’s 50 free.
After these events, the Hoos are pretty clearly more versatile- Manuel, Ledecky, and Eastin don’t… Read more »

Awsi Dooger
Reply to  jeff
9 days ago

I would know which way to answer a Kate question mark

Shaddy419
9 days ago

I’m a bit late to the game(watching the replay right now), but for everyone who played the game at home, we had our first(and not the last) instance this year of Rowdy activating the Luca Urlando Rule for the game by calling the wrong winner in the 400 IM B Final

Stephen Strange
Reply to  Shaddy419
9 days ago

Classic Rowdy

Weinstein-Smith-Ledecky-Sims
9 days ago

The SwimSwam photo curse strikes again!

4th & 3rd

Weinstein-Smith-Ledecky-Sims
9 days ago

Hand over the swimmer of the meet honors to Kate Douglass. No need to wait for Day 4 since the 200 BR will be a foregone conclusion (and most likely another NCAA record).

Last edited 9 days ago by Weinstein-Smith-Ledecky-Sims
Michael Andrew Wilson
9 days ago

Wait it was only a minute ago (okay late 1980s) that 48.26 would win men’s NCAAs in the 100 back, and those guys could kick underwater the whole race.

Becky D
Reply to  Michael Andrew Wilson
9 days ago

But they had to touch the wall with the hand. There’s no getting around that.

Michael Andrew Wilson
Reply to  Becky D
9 days ago

Very true, I was thinking about that too! 😂🤸‍♂️

JimSwim22
Reply to  Michael Andrew Wilson
9 days ago

Dave Berkoff 50.2 for 11th as a freshmen in 1985

Admin
Reply to  Michael Andrew Wilson
9 days ago

I’m not going to tell you how long ago the late 1980s were, but…like make sure you’re among friends when you do that math.

Jonny Newsom
Reply to  Braden Keith
9 days ago

Feels like yesterday! 🐻

Michael Andrew Wilson
Reply to  Jonny Newsom
8 days ago

Sure does

Weinstein-Smith-Ledecky-Sims
9 days ago

Does the University of Virginia clinch the NCAA title before the women’s 400 free relay?

Walsh, Gretchen – 100 FR
Douglass, Kate – 200 BR
Walsh, Alex – 200 FL

The aforementioned is a potential for sixty (60) points in three (3) individual races.

EverybodyWangChungTonight
Reply to  Weinstein-Smith-Ledecky-Sims
9 days ago

#mathlete

Yikes
Reply to  Weinstein-Smith-Ledecky-Sims
9 days ago

Thank you for including the numeral for those of us confused by the word sixty

Weinstein-Smith-Ledecky-Sims
Reply to  Yikes
9 days ago

You’re welcome.

jablo
9 days ago

guys that 100 fly final was so slow, not a single one of them went 49!!!

About Sophie Kaufman

Sophie Kaufman

Sophie grew up in Boston, Massachusetts, which means yes, she does root for the Bruins, but try not to hold that against her. At 9, she joined her local club team because her best friend convinced her it would be fun. Shoulder surgery ended her competitive swimming days long ago, …

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