Home    >    NCAA Women's Day 1: 4 x 200 Free Relay


The 2018 NCAA D1 Women’s Swimming kicked off with the Women’s 4 x 200 Freestyle Relay. Last year, Stanford dominated the race, smashing the NCAA, American, and US Open records along the way.

Although Stanford switched out a couple of players this year, they still boasted an impressive group of swimmers - Katie Drabot, Ella Eastin, Brooke Forde, and Katie Ledecky. Their competition for the gold this year was Michigan, the top seed for this event, with Catie Deloof, Siobhan Haughey, Rose Bi, and Gabby Deloof

The relay started off with Stanford’s Drabot leading with an early breakout, staying underwater for only 3.54 seconds and already taking a full stroke before Michigan’s Catie Deloof’s breakout more than half a second later. Catie Deloof consistently swam with a higher stroke index (DPS x Speed x Cycle Multiplier) at a faster stroke rate than Drabot, but had slower turn times at almost every turn, keeping Drabot ahead throughout their leg, clocking in a time of 1:42.99 to Catie Deloof’s 1:43.40.

Stanford’s Eastin maintained their advantage off the dive, but Michigan’s Haughey immediately caught up, gaining the lead off the first turn. Just like the previous swimmers in their respective teams, Haughey swam with a higher stroke index than Eastin. They both swam at similar speeds in the range of 1.73m/s - 1.88m/s after their first lap, but Haughey pulled a higher DPS in every lap, swimming with a DPS in the range of 1.08m – 1.36m to Eastin’s 1.01m – 1.24m. Haughey also pulled at a stroke rate 0.1 strokes per seconds faster than Eastin in majority of their leg, giving her a considerable lead.

Despite the fairly large differences in their metrics, Haughey was able to optimize her underwater, making sure she didn’t lag too far behind. However, this was not enough for her to catch up to Haughey; Haughey reached the wall half a second before Eastin, clocking in the fastest split in her team with a time of 1:40.49.

Stanford and Michigan continued to be closely tied on the 3rd leg, with Stanford’s Forde and Michigan’s Bi going neck-and-neck in their first 150y. Bi rode the wave of their previous lead, but while Forde and Bi swam at similar speeds of 1.7m/s, with slight differences to the hundredth m/s, Forde had a higher DPS, gradually taking back the lead. It wasn’t until the turn off the 150y that Forde managed to shake Bi off, staying underwater for 3.01 seconds and using her powerful dolphin kicks to give her a significant advantage off the breakout in their final 50y.

Stanford’s lead only kept growing, as their anchor, Ledecky’s breakout already had her almost a full body length ahead of Michigan’s anchor, Gabby Deloof. While Ledecky swam at a faster speed, Gabby Deloof swam with a higher DPS, the difference in their DPS going as high as 0.18m/stroke. Even though Gabby Deloof was taking more efficient strokes (higher stroke index) at a faster rate, Ledecky’s lead only increased with each lap. This can be credited in part to her overall speed, fast turns, and lengthy time underwater. She also used the transitions to her advantage, propelling her even farther ahead at each breakout. But more than anything else, it comes down to her ability to maintain a significantly higher stroke rate, for a longer period of time. Ledecky outperformed Gabby Deloof 1.20 to 1.26 on average over their 200m leg of the race.  

In the end it was Stanford finishing two body lengths and 3.1 seconds ahead of Michigan, retaining their title with a time of 6:46.93.

If day 1 is any indication, the 2018 Women’s Div 1 NCAA Championship will definitely be a competition to watch out for. Stay tuned for our next race analysis tomorrow!