2023 NCAA WOMEN’S SWIMMING AND DIVING CHAMPIONSHIPS
- March 15-18, 2023
- Allan Jones Aquatic Center–Knoxville, Tennessee
- SCY (25 yards)
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At long last, the day has finally arrived. There’s no more need for a countdown–the 2023 Division I Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships kick off today. As always (since 2022), we’re kicking things off with timed finals of the 200 medley and 800 freestyle relay.
The Virginia women are seeded first in four out of the five relays, including the 200 medley. At ACCs, they lowered their own NCAA, American, and U.S Open records with a blistering 1:31.73. They’ll get another chance to lower their own record in the first event of these championships, and will likely run the same lineup of Gretchen Walsh, Alex Walsh, Lexi Cuomo, and Kate Douglass.
They have a trickier lineup decision for the second relay of the session, the 800 freestyle relay. It’s Stanford with the top seed in that relay, and they’ve won four of the last national titles. The Cardinal have some choices to make as well, as they notably left defending 200 free national champion Taylor Ruck off this relay at PAC-12s, opting to use her on the 200 medley relay and Torri Huske here.
We expect that Virginia will have the runner-up spot locked down, but it should be a fight between the Longhorns, Gators, and Cardinals for the third step on the podium.
WOMEN 200 YARD MEDLEY RELAY – TIMED FINALS
NCAA Record: 1:31.73, Virginia (G. Walsh, A. Walsh , A. Cuomo, K. Douglass) — 2023 Meet Record: 1:32.16, Virginia (G. Walsh, A. Wenger, A. Cuomo, K. Douglass) — 2022 American Record: 1:31.73, Virginia (G. Walsh, A. Walsh, A. Cuomo, K. Douglass) — 2023 US Open Record: 1:31.73, Virginia (G. Walsh, A. Walsh, A. Cuomo, K. Douglass) — 2023 Pool Record: 1:33.19, Virginia (C. Gmelich, A. Wenger, K. Douglass, M. Hill) — 2019
- 2022 Champion: Virginia (G. Walsh, A. Wenger, A. Cuomo, K. Douglass) — 1:32.16
- Virginia (G. Walsh, A. Walsh, A. Cuomo, K Douglass) – 1:31.51
- NC State (K. Berkoff, H. MacCausland, K. Alons, A. Arens) – 1:32.42
- Texas (O. Bray, A. Elendt, E. Sticklen, G. Cooper) – 1:33.22
- Ohio State – 1:33.93
- Louisville – 1:34.37
- Cal – 1:34.75
- Alabama – 1:34.83
- UNC – Chapel Hill – 1:35.01
They’ve done it again. The Virginia squad of Gretchen Walsh, Alex Walsh, Lexi Cuomo, and Kate Douglass started the meet off with a bang, resetting the NCAA, American, and U.S. Open records that they set just last month at ACCs. G. Walsh led off in 22.77, then handed things off to her older sister Alex, who split 26.30 on breaststroke. Cuomo has been a key part of this relay for a long time, and she nearly broke 22 seconds with a 22.10 fly split. She pulled Virginia back to just a hundredth behind NC State with a 50 to go. Then, Douglass brought them home with a blistering 20.34 improving on her fastest split of 20.49 to become the second-fastest performer in a flying 50 free.
Despite taking down their record by .22 seconds, the Cavaliers actually weren’t leading the race at the halfway point. It was the NC State Wolfpack who were leading the final heat, thanks to great swims by Katharine Berkoff (22.88) and Heather MacCausland (25.69). That’s a big improvement for her from ACCs, where she split 26.40. Kylee Alons added from her ACCs split with a 22.59 on fly, and Abby Arens anchored in 21.26. Though Virginia caught them on the fly leg, NC State also finished under the old pool record and took six-tenths off their season-best.
Texas grabbed bronze, moving up from their fifth-place finish in 2022. Olivia Bray opened for them with a 23.72, turning things over to Anna Elendt who dropped a massive 25.54 breaststroke split. Emma Sticklen split 22.32 on fly, and Grace Cooper split 21.64 on free.
Out of heat 2, Cal’s squad of Isabelle Stadden (23.57), Jade Neser (26.67), Mia Kragh (22.77), and Emma Davidson (21.74) swam 1:34.75 to grab sixth place. They dropped .65 seconds from their season-best, pulling ahead of Stanford and Tennessee on the breaststroke leg to take the lead after Stanford’s Claire Curzan opened with a 23.26 backstroke leg.
After finishing 12th last year, UNC’s team of Greer Pattison (24.19), Skyler Smith (26.37), Ellie VanNote (23.46) and Grace Countie (20.99) leapt up to grab eighth place. They swam 1:35.01, slower than the 1:34.70 they clocked at ACCs. Their time here would have only moved them up to 11th last year.
Notably, Florida’s relay was disqualified for an early exchange. They would have placed ninth.
WOMEN 800 YARD FREESTYLE RELAY – TIMED FINALS
- NCAA Record: 6:45.91, Stanford (S. Manuel, L. Neal, E. Eastin, K. Ledecky) — 2017
- Meet Record: 6:45.91, Stanford (S. Manuel, L. Neal, E. Eastin, K. Ledecky) — 2017
- American Record: 6:45.91, Stanford (S. Manuel, L. Neal, E. Eastin, K. Ledecky) — 2017
- US Open Record: 6:45.91, Stanford (S. Manuel, L. Neal, E. Eastin, K. Ledecky) — 2017
Pool Record: 6:56.81, Tennessee (J. Mrozinski, E. Walshe, G. Rothrock, T. Pintar) — 2022
- 2022 Champion: Stanford (T. Huske, T. Ruck, R. Smith, B. Forde) — 6:48.30
- Virginia (A. Canny, A. Walsh, R. Tiltmann, M. Nelson) – 6:49.82
- Stanford (T. Huske, T. Ruck, L. Nordmann, K. Wilson) – 6:50.77
- Texas (K. Pash, O. Bray, K. Leibel, E. Sullivan) – 6:55.55
- Cal – 6:57.08
- Tennessee – 6:57.49
- Florida – 6:57.72
- Indiana – 6:59.01
- Georgia – 6:59.12
After winning this relay in 2021, Virginia was second to Stanford last year–the only relay that they didn’t win on their way to repeating as NCAA team champions. Now, they’ve taken the title back; somewhat shocking Stanford who had won four of the last five titles. Freshman Aimee Canny posted a personal best of 1:42.34, keeping Virginia close to Stanford as Torri Huske posted the fastest lead-off with a 1:42.28.
Then, in her second swim of the evening, A. Walsh dropped a 1:41.18, the fastest split in the field. She handed the lead Reilly Tiltmann, who extended it with a 1:43.38. Senior Ella Nelson split 1:42.92, which held off Stanford’s anchor, freshman Kayla Wilson (1:42.22). Virginia dropped 5.33 seconds from their seed time, earning first in a pool record time of 6:49.82.
Stanford touched .95 seconds behind in 6:50.77. Along with Huske and Wilson’s splits, they got a 1:42.23 split from defending NCAA champion Taylor Ruck, who they left off this relay at PAC-12s. Their third leg was sophomore Lillie Nordmann, who clocked 1:44.04. Huske and Ruck are the only two who were on this NCAA relay last year, and both were faster then, with Huske leading off in 1:41.93 and Ruck splitting 1:40.49.
Cal continued their strong showing here in the first session with a fourth place finish. Their quartet of Mia Motekaitis (1:44.10), Ayla Spitz (1:43.84), Rachel Klinker (1:44.82), and Leah Polonsky combined for 6:57.08, a season best by over a second and a half.
There was an excellent race in heat 2 between Georgia, Wisconsin, Kentucky, and Ohio State. Flipping sixth with about 150-yards to go, Zoie Hartman pulled Georgia back into the race with a huge 1:42.50. She caught Wisconsin’s Blair Stoneburg and it came down to the touch between them, with Hartman taking the win for Georgia in 6:59.12, one-hundredth ahead of Stoneburg and the Badgers. For their part, the Badgers had a strong relay themselves, with Phoebe Bacon splitting 1:44.00 and Stoneburg anchoring in 1:43.95.
Florida opted to not use Emma Weyant on their relay, instead going with a quartet of Ekaterina Nikonova (1:43.83), Talia Bates (1:44.38), Tylor Mathieu (1:45.98), and Micayla Cronk (1:43.51). They added about six-tenths from their SEC-winning time, with a 6:57.72 but still grabbed sixth-place and began to do damage control after DQ-ing their 200 medley relay.
Auburn finished 16th in a season-best 7:04.82, grabbing two points to get on the scoreboard. It’s a big finish for them as they didn’t score any points last year.
Top 10 Teams Thru Day 1
- Virginia – 80
- Texas – 64
- Cal – 56
- Stanford – 52
- NC State – 44
- Tennessee/Louisville – 40
- Ohio State – 38
- Indiana – 34
- Georgia – 30