NCAA women's swimming & diving championship begins today
The GIST: Come on in — the water’s fine! While the men’s tournament doesn’t begin until next week, the best of the best in women’s swimming & diving will hit the NCAA championship pool starting today. With a whopping eighteen Team USA athletes competing, this one is going to be electric. Don’t tell us to be calm, ponyboy!
How it works: Over the next four days, 281 of the nation’s top women’s swimmers will compete for national titles in 18 events, which they qualified for by meeting established minimum times (aka standards) during the regular season. Teams earn points for each swimmer’s or relay team’s finishing place in the final races.
- Things are a little different for the 41 competing divers. While their swimming counterparts have all season to qualify, divers made the natty based on their performances at last week’s Zone Diving Championships (similar to regionals).
- Team points are awarded based on divers’ finishing places in the one-meter, three-meter and platform events. And unlike swimming, dive scoring is subjective, making the competition thrillingly unpredictable.
The favorites: It’s hard to not like No. 1 Virginia’s chances at a three-peat ’ship. The Cavaliers are sending 17 swimmers to nationals — more than any other program. Led by 2022 CSCAA Women’s Swimmer of the Year Kate Douglass, who qualified for the 200 IM, 100 fly and 200 breast events, Virginia’s looking absolutely deadly.
- But 2022 runner-up No. 2 Texas will be hungry for natty revenge, and legacy team No. 3 Stanford (Katie Ledecky’s alma mater) is always ready to make some noise. Spicy fact? All three squads are undefeated this year.
What to watch: A can’t-miss rematch in the 100m backstroke. Last year, NC State senior Katharine Berkoff and Virginia sophomore Gretchen Walsh both broke the event’s all-time record, but Berkoff edged out Walsh by 0.26 seconds to take the trophy. With outstanding seasons so far, either could crush this race.