Swimming

Top 10 Swimmers From Week 1 Of 2024 NCAA Major Conference Championships

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By Sean Griffin on SwimSwam

Four of the major NCAA conference meets are out of the way and many fast swims were posted across the board. We’ve compiled a list of ten swimmers (& some bonuses) that had exceptional meets this past week, but note that it’s not just a stringent top ten ranking list. We didn’t base it on the fastest ten swims across the board…it’s a list of swimmers that we felt fell into one of these four categories:

  • Did they post a record-breaking performance or reach a career milestone?
  • Did they have a great week but were a bit overshadowed during the meet itself?
  • Did they bounce back from a disappointing season and produce some of their best ever swims?
  • Did they produce a clutch performance that had a direct impact on the outcome of the meet?

We wanted to provide a refreshing mix of the record-breaking swims and some under the radar performances, so without further ado:

Alex Walsh (Virginia)

Alex Walsh became the winningest swimmer in ACC Championship history over the weekend, overtaking Kate Douglass for the most ever career titles with 26. She claimed three individual wins: the 200 IM, 200 fly, and 200 breast. The 200 fly (1:49.16) represented a new NCAA record in the event, and propelled her to the 2nd fastest performer in history. Her 200 breast time of 2:02.24 was a new championship record, and also made her the 2nd fastest person to ever swim the event. Walsh also split 20.82 on UVA’s NCAA record-setting 200 free relay, beyond impressive for the two-time defending NCAA champion in the 400 IM.

A big decision looms for A. Walsh heading into the NCAA Championships in a few weeks, as she leads the NCAA in both the 200 breast and 200 fly. Both events occur on day four of the meet in fairly close proximity to one another, and she has opted to compete in the 200 fly over the past two years. She won the 2022 NCAA title in the 200 fly and was runner-up a year ago, but the 200 breast seems like a safer gold medal for her this year.

It seems she will almost certainly swim the 200 IM on day one, and the 400 IM on day two is also quite certain…with a very slim chance of maybe the 100 breast or 200 free. Day three is the true question mark, and we’ll have to wait until the psych sheets drop to find out her final decision.

  • 200 IM — 1:51.76 (1st)
  • 200 Butterfly — 1:49.16 (1st), NCAA Record & #2 Performer of All-Time
  • 200 Breaststroke — 2:02.24 (1st), #2 Performer of All-Time
  • 50 Freestyle (relay split) — 20.82
  • 100 Freestyle (relay split) — 47.05
  • 200 Freestyle (relay split) — 1:41.23
  • 100 Butterfly (relay split) — 49.13

Jonny Marshall (Florida)

Florida freshman Jonny Marshall had the meet of his life at the 2024 SEC Championships. He dominated both backstroke events, and became the fastest ever first-year in the men’s 100 backstroke (44.12) en route to his first SEC title. He later won the 200 backstroke (1:36.68), breaking Ryan Lochte‘s legendary school record in the process. With two more weekends of conference meets to go, Marshall sits atop the NCAA rankings in the 100 back while also sitting 2nd in the 200 back standings. In addition to his backstroke performances, he swam to a new lifetime best in the 200 freestyle (1:34.75), placing 13th overall.

 

  • 100 Backstroke — 44.12 (1st)
  • 200 Backstroke — 1:36.68 (1st)
  • 200 Freestyle — 1:34.75 (13th)
  • 100 Backstroke (relay lead-off) — 45.13

Gretchen Walsh (Virginia)

Gretchen Walsh had many record-breaking swims at the ACC Championships, going 3-for-3 in individual events and bagging FIVE individual NCAA records along the way. She set the 50 free record twice, going 20.77 in prelims before posting a 20.57 in the final. She added records in the 100 free, 100 fly, and 100 back, in addition to also splitting the fastest ever 50 freestyle (19.95) and becoming the 3rd fastest 200 freestyler (1:40.23) in history. G. Walsh also helped the UVA women to an NCAA record in the 200 free relay, and her 200 free lead-off assisted the team in becoming 2nd fastest all-time in the 800 free relay. She was also named the women’s swimmer of the meet.

  • 50 Freestyle — 20.57 (1st), Fastest All-Time
  • 100 Freestyle — 45.16 (1st), Fastest All-Time
  • 100 Butterfly — 48.25 (1st), Fastest All-Time
  • 100 Backstroke (relay lead-off) — 48.10, Fastest All-Time
  • 50 Freestyle (relay split) — 19.95 , Fastest All-Time
  • 100 Freestyle (relay split) — 45.40
  • 200 Freestyle (relay lead-off) — 1:40.23, #3 Performer of All-Time

Chris Guiliano (Notre Dame)

After a massive breakthrough at last summer’s World Championship Trials, Notre Dame’s Chris Guiliano continued his progression at the 2024 ACC Championships. He secured three individual gold medals, sweeping the 50-200 freestyles in record-setting fashion. He also helped Notre Dame secure a 400 free relay win, posting his 3rd 40-point 100 freestyle of the day leading them off. He was named ACC Swimmer of the Meet for his exceptional performances, which were highlighted by his ACC record in the 100 free (40.62).

In addition to the SCY performances, perhaps his greatest swim of the weekend came at the conclusion of the meet. He stayed in Greensboro an extra day to time trial the 100 LCM freestyle, where he blasted a 47.49 to demolish his best time (47.98) by half a second.

  • 50 Freestyle — 18.57 (1st)
  • 100 Freestyle — 40.62 (1st)
  • 200 Freestyle — 1:31.16 (1st)
  • 50 Freestyle (relay lead-off) — 18.63
  • 100 Freestyle (relay lead-off) — 40.87
  • 100 Freestyle (relay anchor) — 40.17
  • 200 Freestyle (relay lead-off) — 1:31.16
  • 100 Freestyle (LCM) — 47.49

Isabel Ivey (Florida)

One of the most versatile swimmers in the NCAA, Florida’s Isabel Ivey, had a resurgence at this year’s SEC Championships. The former Cal Bear kicked off her individual events with a personal best in the 200 IM, breaking 1:53 for the first time (1:52.50). She placed 2nd to teammate Bella Sims in the event, but it was a confidence-boosting best time nonetheless. She later added individual wins in the 100 back (50.40) and 200 free (1:41.85), with her backstroke time representing a new lifetime best. Her previous best time of 50.42 was set five years ago at the 2019 NCAA Championships, when she graduated high school early to join the Cal Bears during championship season.

Ivey also helped the Gators to three relay wins in the 200, 400, and 800 free relays. She stepped up big on all the relays, highlighted by sprint freestyle splits of 21.03 (50 free) and 46.06 (100 free). The 5th year Gator has some decisions to make for the NCAA Championships, as she could swim a wide range of different events based on her best times: 100 free (46.61), 200 free (1:41.35), 100 fly (50.60), 100 back (50.40), and 200 IM (1:52.50).

  • 200 IM — 1:52.50 (2nd)
  • 200 Free — 1:41.85 (1st)
  • 100 Back — 50.40 (1st)
  • 50 Free (relay split) — 21.03
  • 100 Free (relay lead-off) — 46.61
  • 100 Free (relay split) — 46.06
  • 200 Free (relay split) — 1:42.19

Macguire McDuff (Florida)

Florida junior Macguire McDuff posted a best time in each of his three best events at the SEC Championships. Leaving the meet with an individual title in the 200 free, and top four finishes in the two sprint free events, McDuff is a big name to watch for at NCAAs. Last season, he played a integral role in Florida’s NCAA record-setting relays, but he really broke through individually this past week.

Last summer, McDuff nearly made the U.S. World Championship team via his 7th place 100 freestyle (48.24) finish at Trials. He was notably faster in prelims (48.08), posting a time that would’ve been equal 5th in the final (if replicated). His massive best time of 1:30.64 from this past week’s 200-yard freestyle should be a great confidence-boost, as it bodes quite well for his 100 LCM free heading into Olympic Trials.

  • 50 Freestyle — 18.87 (3rd)
  • 100 Freestyle — 41.30 (4th)
  • 200 Freestyle — 1:30.64 (1st)
  • 50 Freestyle (relay split) — 18.25
  • 100 Freestyle (relay split) — 41.42
  • 100 Freestyle (relay split) — 41.57
  • 200 Freestyle (relay lead-off) — 1:31.62

Kristina Paegle (Indiana)

Indiana sophomore Kristina Paegle scored 75 points at the 2024 B1G Ten Championships and posted a best time of 47.65 in the 100 free along the way. She was 3rd in the event, and also added a 5th place finish in the 50 free (21.87) and a 7th place finish in the 200 free (1:46.74 but was a 1:45.59 in the prelims).

However, her relay prowess is what earns her a spot on this list. She arguably had the most clutch swim of the weekend, anchoring Indiana’s 400 free relay home in 46.65, clinching the overall B1G Ten title for her team. The meet came down to the last relay, where Ohio State and Indiana battled it out to determine the meet winner… meaning whichever team touched ahead of the other earned the championship. Ohio State led the Hoosiers by 1.6 seconds going in to anchor leg, but Paegle’s 46.65 out-split Ohio State anchor Tristan Harrison (49.60) by nearly three seconds, coming from behind to seal Indiana’s first B1G Ten meet victory in five years.

Paegle was great on relays all week, see this comparison between her individual swims versus her best relay split in each event:

  • 50 Freestyle: 21.87 (individual) vs. 21.03 (relay split)
  • 100 Freestyle: 47.65 (individual) vs. 46.65 (relay split)
  • 200 Freestyle 1:45.59 (individual) vs. 1:43.52 (relay split)

Noah Bowers (NC State)

NC State graduate student Noah Bowers posted best times en masse at the ACC Championships. After a 6th place finish in the 200 fly at last year’s NCAA Championships, Bowers lowered his best time by over a second to win the ACC Championship in his first ever sub-1:40 effort (1:39.65). He added best times in the 100 fly (45.04) and 200 back (1:42.47), indicating he has the potential to score in the 100 fly in one month’s time. He owns a best time of 1:32.96 in the 200 free from last year, so he could be a realistic triple event scoring threat in Indianapolis next month if he can drop time there.

  • 100 Butterfly — 45.04 (6th)
  • 200 Butterfly — 1:39.65 (1st)
  • 200 Backstroke — 1:42.73 (12th) *1:42.47 in prelims
  • 200 Freestyle (relay split) — 1:32.56

Katharine Berkoff (NC State)

While NC State’s Katharine Berkoff was a bit overshadowed by the record-breaking performances from the Walsh sisters, she did clock personal best times in her three primary events at the 2024 ACCs. She posted a 50 free performance of 21.14 leading-off NC State’s 3rd placing 200 free relay, before touching in 21.23 for 3rd place status in the individual event. She touched for another 3rd place finish in the 100 free, clipping her previous best time in 46.81. She also clocked a best time of 48.70 to win the 100 backstroke, marking her 5th-consecutive ACC championship win in the event. Berkoff is known to get faster from ACCs to NCAAs, so going best times at this point of the season is very promising for the Wolfpack star.

  • 50 Freestyle — 21.23 (3rd)
  • 100 Freestyle — 46.81 (3rd)
  • 100 Backstroke — 48.70 (1st)
  • 50 Freestyle (relay split) — 20.40
  • 50 Freestyle (relay lead-off) — 21.14
  • 100 Freestyle (relay split) — 46.09
  • 100 Freestyle (relay lead-off) — 46.91

Emma Weyant (Florida)

Florida junior Emma Weyant posted best times in all of her individual events at the SEC Championships. In arguably her best meet since the Tokyo Olympics, she walked away from SECs with individual titles in both the 500 free and 400 IM. She also added a 2nd place finish in the 1650 Freestyle, making her a top eight contender in all three events for the upcoming NCAA Championships. She was 3rd in the 400 IM, 6th in the 500 free, and 13th in the 1650 free at last year’s NCAA Championships, so she looks primed to outscore her performances from a year ago.

 

  • 500 Freestyle — 4:34.25 (1st)
  • 400 IM — 4:01.20 (1st)
  • 1650 Freestyle — 15:54.62 (2nd)
  • 200 Freestyle (relay split) — 1:43.33

Others To Watch Heading Into NCAAs:

  • Bella Sims (Florida) — While Bella Sims was slightly off her primary event best times at the SEC Championships, she did walk away as the female swimmer of the meet. She bagged best times in the 100 back (50.07), 50 free (21.88), and 200 IM (1:51.86), as well as won individual titles in the aforementioned 200 IM in addition to the 200 fly and 200 back.
  • Jordan Crooks (Tennessee) — Although Jordan Crooks didn’t post a best time in the 50 free, he did post his second ever sub-18 (17.99) swim en route to the SEC title. He also added best times in the 100 free (40.90) and 200 free (1:31.17).
  • Mona McSharry (Tennessee) — Just one week after the Doha World Championships, Tennessee junior Mona McSharry swept the breaststrokes at SECs. She won the 100 breast in 57.00, just off her 56.87 season best time. She added a best time in the 200 (2:03.87) and posted a sub-56 split on Tennessee’s victorious 400 medley relay (55.94), which was the 2nd fastest relay split in history.
  • Kyle Ponsler (NC State) — NC State sophomore Kyle Ponsler showed significant improvements from last year, posting best times in both the 500 free and 400 IM. He grabbed the ACC 400 IM title (3:41.18), improving upon his 5th place 2023 finish. For someone who didn’t even swim at the NCAA Championships a year ago, this leap forward will be pivotal for NC State, as they have a loaded class coming in for next season to add to their depth.
  • Carles Coll Marti (Virginia Tech) — After being dethroned in the 200 breast at last year’s ACC Championships, Virginia Tech’s Carles Coll Marti reclaimed his title. Just off his 1:49.69 ACC record, he won the event 1:50.08 over defending champion Denis Petrashov of Louisville. Coll Marti also placed 2nd in the 100 breast this year, recording his first ever sub-51 swim in 50.95.
  • Noah Henderson (NC State) — After posting the fastest split on NC State’s American record-breaking 200 freestyle relay, Noah Henderson posted a best time in the 100 fly (44.80). While he was off his best times in the individual 50 and 100 free events, his personal bests in the 50 free and 100 fly are worthy of scoring at NCAAs. His relay contributions and individual scoring potential bodes well for Indianapolis next month.
  • Anna Kalandadze (Penn) — Penn senior Anna Kalandadze had a great showing at the Ivy League Championships, producing a best time of 4:37.21 in the 500 free. She also swam 15:54.53 in the 1650 free, just off her best time of 15:53.88. It’s possible that one of those times could score in the top eight at NCAAs, as both of her swims would’ve last year (although the events are deeper this year, in comparison).
  • Anya Mostek (Harvard) — Harvard sophomore Anya Mostek has been dropping time in the 100 back all year, breaking the Ivy League record on three separate occasions. She lowered it down to 52.15 in the final at the Ivy League Championships, which is 0.21 faster than it took to qualify for last year’s NCAA Championships.
  • Princeton Women — Princeton freshman Dakota Tucker had a great meet at the women’s Ivy League Championships, sweeping her individual events. She won the 200 IM, 400 IM, and 200 breast, and has posted a time in all three this season that would’ve qualified for NCAAs last year. Her teammate and fellow freshman, Eleanor Sun, has done the same in three events. Sun has been faster than Tucker in both IMs this year, but was runner-up to her at the Ivy League Championships. Sun has also been 1:55.87 in the 200 fly. Heidi Smithwick (1:54.62 200 fly), Sabrina Johnston (22.07 50 free, 48.28 100 free), and Ela Noble (22.13 50 free) are additional names to watch for, all with chances to earn NCAA invites.
  • Notre Dame Men — Behind Guiliano’s record swims, Notre Dame had nothing short of a spectacular week in Greensboro. Improving from 5th to 2nd overall in just one year is a huge statement, and the improvements of swimmers such as Tommy Janton, Tanner Filion, and Marcus Gentry (among others…) were a big contributing factor.

SwimSwam: Top 10 Swimmers From Week 1 Of 2024 NCAA Major Conference Championships

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