By Kyle Sagendorph//USA Swimming Communications Intern | Friday, March 22, 2019
With season-long build of excitement to the Women’s NCAA Championships, Thursday’s first full day of finals at the Lee & Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Center in Austin, Texas did not disappoint. The night featured multiple American records, victorious U.S. National Team members and a Stanford team sitting atop the team leaderboard by a mere half a point over Cal.
The 200 freestyle relay began the night with a bang, as Cal bested both the NCAA and American record by almost a full second, touching in 1:24.55. The original American record was set by last year’s Stanford team in 1:25.43. There were two national teamers on the record-breaking Cal relay team, as Katie McLaughlin recorded a split of 21.37 and Abbey Weitzeil anchored with a scorching 20.49 split.
Fellow national teamer Brooke Forde followed the 200 freestyle with a victory of her own, taking gold in the 500 freestyle with a time of 4:31.34. The Stanford sophomore’s time was the second best in program history, behind only six-time Olympic medalist, Katie Ledecky. The win adds to a strong 2018-19 campaign for Forde, highlighted by seven event wins, second place in the 400 IM at the Pac-12 Championships and now the title of NCAA Champion.
Two events later, Weitzeil returned to the pool for the 50 freestyle. Having just become an NCAA champion and American record holder roughly an hour prior in the 200 freestyle relay, the Cal junior once again etched her name into the American record book— besting the record that she owned —with a time of 21.02. Her success in Austin is not uncharted territory, as Weitzeil’s previous 50 free record of 21.12 was set in Austin in 2016.
The 400 medley relay capped the evening, seeing the Cal relay squad of McLaughlin, Weitzeil, Amy Bilquist and Ema Rajic take the title in 3:25.24. Weitzeil once again stole the show, as the Bears were trailing Indiana through the first three legs of the relay before Weitzeil’s 45.87 anchor split give Cal the win by nearly two seconds.
Other notable National Team performances of day two included Indiana senior Lilly King completing a 100 breast relay split in a blazing 55:67 mark. King’s stellar performance helped the Hoosiers to second place in the event, tying the best relay finish at the NCAA Championships in program history. Stanford’s Ella Eastin and Louisville’s Mallory Comerford recorded top-3 individual finishes on the night, with Eastin taking second in the 200 IM in 1:51.81 and Comerford getting third in the 50 freestyle in 21.49.
Third-day prelims are underway, with finals beginning at 5 p.m. ET. Live results are being provided through the meet host.