Indianapolis, Ind.— Ohio State had a great day of swimming on the first full day of competition at the 2017 NCAA Championships, led by Liz Li’s third place finish in the 50 freestyle.
Her time of 21.29 smashed the old school record of 21.48, which Li herself had set on two separate occasions- once earlier this year at Big Ten Championships, and last season at NCAA Championships. The junior actually had the fastest time at prelims this morning, and led after the first 25 yards of the finals heat. The two swimmers who finished ahead of her, Simone Manuel and Olivia Smoliga, both won gold medals at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio; the fact that Li went toe-to-toe with a pair of Olympians, and nearly outperformed them twice, only adds to the impressive nature of her performance on Thursday.
The other individual All-American was Lindsey Clary, who earned honorable mention status after her qualifying for the B finals of the 500 freestyle at prelims. The senior touched the wall at 4:39.33 during the morning session and nearly matched it during finals by putting up a time of 4:39.61. This marks the fifth time in her career she attained All-America recognitions: as a sophomore she was an honorable mention honoree in the 400 IM and last year as a junior she was an All-American in the 400 IM, 500 freestyle, and 1,650 freestyle.
Li was joined by Macie McNichols, Maria Coy, and Chantel Wynn in the 200 freestyle relay today, and the foursome were all named honorable mention All-Americans for their efforts. Ohio State set a new school record in this event back at Big Ten Championships, putting up an NCAA qualifying time of 1:27.99. They took full advantage of their automatic qualification, posting strong times of 1:28.78 during prelims 1:28.96 during finals.
A few other Buckeyes competed in the pool on Thursday. Freshmen Kathrin Demler and Molly Kowal both made their individual NCAA Championships debuts in the 500 freestyle, their times of 4:42.02 and 4:42.57, respectively, marking strong first impressions for the rookies. Meg Bailey, competing in the 200 IM, posted a time of 1:59.19, and she also contributed to Ohio State’s 400 medley relay. She was joined by Marianne Kahmann, Taylor Vargo, and McNichols and together they put up a time of 3:38.02.
Friday will be yet another full day of competition in Indianapolis, with prelims beginning at 10:00 a.m. ET and finals picking back up at 6:00 p.m. ET. The following events will be contested: 400 IM, 100 butterfly, 200 freestyle, 100 breaststroke, 100 backstroke, three-meter, and 200 medley relay.