Home > NCAA Women's Day 4: 200 Fly
The women’s 200y fly was a great race to close out the individual events of the 2018 women’s NCAA finals. This race secured Stanford’s Ella Eastin her 3rd individual race win of the competition, earning her the title of 2018 CSCAA Swimmer of the Year.
Racing against her were teammates Katie Drabot, USC’s 100 fly champion Louise Hansson, California’s Katie McLaughlin, Georgia’s Megan Kingsley, USC’s Maddie Wright, Louisville’s Grace Oglesby, and Michigan’s Vanessa Krause.
Hansson shot off to an early lead, getting to the first turn at least half a second ahead of the heat. She led the race throughout the 125-mark but started to fall behind, losing significant speed on the 6th lap, upping her split by almost a full second. At this point, Eastin and Drabot had caught up, leaving her to finish third, 2.24 seconds behind. Had she paced herself in the earlier laps, she could easily have remained ahead of her competitors through to the end.
Conversely, Eastin’s biggest advantage was her consistency, boasting the lowest average split change throughout the race. She wasn’t the most efficient, with her DPS and stroke index falling in the lower end of the range. However she was able to maintain a steady stroke count of 8 per lap, after the first, and pulled at a consistently fast rate. With stable metrics across the board, her biggest fluctuations were a faster stroke rate in her 3rd lap, and a drop in DPS from 1.73 m to 1.58 m on the last lap, which she compensated for with a slightly faster stroke rate. Her steady pace, coupled with more speed, left her with enough strength to power through to the end, once again proving consistency can outperform efficiency, when speed is relatively equal.
Meanwhile, Kingsley and McLaughlin’s battle for 4th and 5th place clearly demonstrates the critical impact of underwaters. They swam with opposing strategies - Kingsley swam with the fastest stroke rate in the heat, but had the shortest strokes in nearly every lap, while McLaughlin had nearly the slowest stroke rate, and her DPS and stroke index fell in the mid to high range. Even with these opposing strategies, they maintained just a small fraction of a second difference between them in each lap. The interesting part was, no matter who got to the turn first, Kingsley always came out ahead off the breakout. Her strong underwater in each lap added up, putting her at an advantage, so when she sped up her strokes in the final lap, she was in a position where getting in that final stroke had her out-touching Kingsley by two hundredths of a second.
First is the importance of proper pacing and consistency, especially in mid-distance events. Hansson went out too fast, without the endurance to sustain it. While she maintained a fairly consistent stroke rate, she also hit a wall in laps 5 and 6, stabilized a little in lap 7, but finished the race with the slowest split, and dropping her overall metrics more than anyone else in the field in the last lap. If she had paced herself better, sacrificing a bit of her early lead to sustain consistently fast, strong strokes, she would have been able to hold Drabot off to the finish.
Another learning is the importance of optimizing underwater time. Drabot swam an impressive race, but her time underwater was far below average and she was not gaining as much distance off the walls. If she was better able to capitalize on the momentum off the wall with more powerful dolphin kicks, she could have dropped her personal best even more, and been closer to Eastin in the end.
To dive into the numbers of each athlete yourself, use the interactive board below to see exactly how they performed across all metrics.
This wraps up the 2018 NCAA Women’s Championships. Stay tuned for our race analysis of the Men’s NCAA Championships next week!