By Kyle Sagendorph//USA Swimming Communications Intern | Saturday, March 23, 2019
After the second day of the 2019 Women’s NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships saw record-breaking action in the pool, Friday’s third-day action was nothing short of a tremendous follow-up act. The Lee & Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Center in Austin, Texas was once again the site for a nail-biting and record-smashing day of NCAA Championship swimming.
The event began with the women’s 400 IM, featuring a trio of U.S. National Team swimmers competing for the title. In the end, it was Stanford’s Ella Eastin who earned the honors, finishing in 3:57.03. Fellow national team and Stanford teammate Brooke Forde took third in 3:59.26, while South Carolina’s Emma Barksdale rounded out the national team performances in fifth with a 4:03.97 mark. The 400 IM title adds to Eastin’s successful campaign at this year’s NCAA Championships, having won a title as a member of Stanford’s 800 freestyle relay team on Wednesday, and taking a second-place finish in the 200 IM in 1:51.81 on Thursday.
Two events later, national team member and Louisville Cardinal Mallory Comerford took the 200 freestyle title in 1:40.26. The win marks her third-consecutive NCAA title in the 200 freestyle, and her first victory at the 2019 Championships.
Following Comerford’s win in the 200 freestyle, breaststroke phenom and Indiana senior Lilly King stole the show by besting her own American record in the 100 breaststroke, touching in 55.73. King’s sub-56 performance broke her previous record by just over one-tenth of a second and earned her the victory by over two seconds. King’s win completed a four-year NCAA Championship sweep in the 100 breaststroke and earned the Hoosier her seventh breaststroke title of her illustrious career.
Immediately following King’s record-breaking performance, Wisconsin junior Beata Nelson set an American record of her own, winning the 100 backstroke in 49.18, besting the previous record by over half a second. The win gives Nelson two NCAA titles in as many days, with the other coming via her 1:50.79 time in Thursday’s 200 IM.
The night concluded with Tennessee taking the 200 medley relay title with a school-record time of 1:34.10. The Lady Vols sent Meghan Small off the blocks to start the relay, proving well as her 24:05 split gave Tennessee an early lead. The team held through the second and third legs, but Cal anchor and national teamer Abbey Weitzeil rallied the Bears in the final stretch, only to come up three-tenths of a second short. The relay team of Small, Nikol Popov, Madeline Banic and Erika Brown earned Tennessee its second 200 medley relay win in program history.
A competitive third night of action raised an already high bar heading into the final day of the event. Saturday prelims will be followed by the 1650 freestyle finals at 2:45 p.m. ET, with the remainder of finals starting at 5 p.m. ET. ESPNU will be broadcasting finals, and live results are being provided through the meet host.