For the final time this season, the NC State women’s swimming team will be in competition this week, as the Pack is sending 14 student athletes to the NCAA Championships in Austin, Texas.
The meet will kick off Wednesday night, with the national champion being decided Saturday. After back-to-back top-10 finishes in 2016-17, the No. 6 Wolfpack women placed 18th at last year’s championship meet, but will look to jump back into that top-10 this week in Austin.
While likely not a strong contender to take home the team title, the Pack will have plenty of representation in the pool and looks set to challenge its program-best finish of seventh, set in 2017.
Two members of the Pack, freshman Sophie Hansson and sophomore Kate Moore, will swim in three individual events. After sweeping the breaststroke events at the ACC Championships, Hansson will compete in both the 100- and 200-yard breaststroke at NCAAs.
The freshman has burst onto the scene for the Pack this season, and has a decent chance at capturing a medal at NCAAs in her first season. In the 200 breast, Hansson enters with the fourth-fastest seed time at 2:06.73.
Hansson is even stronger in the 100 breast, where her entry time of 57.74 is second-best in the field. She will be joined by sophomore teammate Olivia Calegan in the 100 breast, as Calegan enters with the 16th-fastest seed time, a 59.43.
The other individual event for Hansson will be the 200-yard individual medley, where her time of 1:56.61 puts her 34th in seed time. Wolfpack sophomore Julia Poole will also compete in the 200 IM, and with a time of 1:55.13, she enters as the 14th-fastest competitor in the field in the event that she captured the ACC title in.
The strongest of Moore’s three events is the longer version of the IM, as she enters with the eighth-fastest seed time, 4:05.24, in the 400-yard individual medley. Moore won the 400 IM at ACCs. The Wolfpack will field four athletes in the event, one of two swims that it will do that in, with three of those four in the top-15 in terms of seed time.
Freshman Emma Muzzy enters just a few slots behind Moore, with her time of 4:05.60 good for 11th-best in the field. Junior Makayla Sargent has the 14th-fastest seed time, while Poole wraps up the Wolfpack entrants in the 400 IM with the 24th-best seed time.
The other four-participant event for the Pack will be the 1,650-yard freestyle, where NC State has two of the top-10 seed times. Sophomore Tamila Holub, who won the distance event at ACCs, enters with the eighth-best time, a 15:56.91. Right behind Holub is senior Anna Jahns, whose time of 15:56.96 is ninth-best. Sargent and junior Summer Finke will also compete in the 1,650 for the Pack, with Sargent entering at 27th and Finke at 36th.
The other long-distance freestyle event, the 500-yard freestyle, will feature three swimmers from the Wolfpack. Moore, Jahns and Holub will compete in the event, with Moore’s seed time of 4:39.10 being the best of the three, and the 23rd-fastest in the field.
Junior Ky-lee Perry leads the way for NC State in the freestyle sprints, qualifying for NCAAs in both the 50- and 100-yard freestyle. In the 50 free, Perry comes into the meet tied for the fourth-fastest seed time of 21.58. In the 100 free she enters in 11th.
Freshman Kylee Alons will join Perry in the 50 free, with the 11th-best seed time. Alons will also compete in the 100-yard butterfly, where her time of 51.69 is 13th in the field.
The Wolfpack won both backstroke events at the ACCs, and brings a strong backstroke contingent into Austin. In the 100-yard backstroke, ACC champion Elise Haan, a senior for the Wolfpack, will be NC State’s lone swimmer. Her seed time of 51.24 is tied for 9th-best, and she could fight for a spot in the main final of the event.
In the 200-yard backstroke, Muzzy leads the way for the Pack after winning the ACC title in the event. Muzzy comes into NCAAs with a seed time of 1:51.58, ninth-fastest. She will be joined by Haan and Moore in the event, who enter seeded 25th and 26th, respectively.
To go along with the individual performers, the Wolfpack will also bring an incredibly strong relay group to the NCAA Championships. The Pack won the 200-yard medley, 400-yard medley and 200-yard freestyle relays at ACCs, and has strong times compared to the rest of the country.
The Wolfpack has the second-fastest recorded time of the teams competing at NCAAs in the 200 free relay and the third-fastest in the 200 medley relay according to collegeswimming.com, sitting within a few 10ths of a second behind the top time in both. In the 400 medley relay, the Wolfpack has the fourth-fastest recorded time in the field.
While not swimming in individual events at NCAAs, sophomores Sirena Rowe and Olivia Fisher are travelling to Austin with the Pack to compete on relay teams.
The Wolfpack women look poised to grab a top-10 finish at NCAAs, and continue building on the recent success the program has experienced under head coach Braden Holloway.
NC State has never won an NCAA title in any women’s swimming event, but with the strong relay teams and Hansson’s proficiency in the breaststroke events, there is hope for the Wolfpack that maybe this can be the year that happens. The competition will kick off with the 800-yard freestyle relay Wednesday night.