NCAA Preview – W500FS

With conference meets completed, I will be previewing each event individual event leading up to NCAAs. No the psyche sheet isn’t out, but I will do my best so we can start looking forward.

Last year, Caroline Wilson of Williams out-touched rival Amherst’s Kendra Stern for a new record. Both return this year and Stern is 4 seconds ahead of her seed time in 2010. Wilson, on the other hand comes in with a very similar seed time, but since this is her sophomore campaign, it’s possible that Kuster trained/tapered her differently. Whatever the case may be, this should be one of the most anticipated battles of the meet. It will certainly help decide who wins swimmer of the meet as it features 3 potential candidates (the 2 aforementioned swimmers and Horvat).

The depth of this event also looks to be impressive. Only 1 of the top 8 finalists from last year graduated and if we take that to top 16, the number only rises to 3. Add to that 2 freshmen ladies ranked in the top 16 coming into the meet and you have a recipe for fast swimming. It wasn’t long ago at all that the record stood at 4:56 and now 14 ladies will head to Knoxville with times below 5 minutes.

Sleeper: Alyssa Swanson. Alyssa came into the meet last year with a 4:55 and added time. Was it freshman jitters? Does she choke at big meets? She’ll be entering with another 4:55 (assuming she swims it) and Parini is wise enough to change strategy as needed. She may not win it, but if things go right, she has the talent to make some noise near the top. Then again, she may swim the 50.

Winner: Kendra Stern. This year is about payback. She’s been on a tear this season and it’s her senior year.

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