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Sunday, February 26, 2017

Best women's collegiate team ever

There's never been another women's college swim team as good, and there's probably never been another collegiate team in any sport with the same star power as the current Stanford women's swim team.

Two nights ago Ally Howe, a junior, set the American and US Open records in the 100 yard backstroke with a 49.69, breaking Natalie Coughlin's record of 49.97 from 2002.

Ella Eastin, a sophomore, is the American and US Open record holder in the 200 yard individual medley with a 1:51.65.

Simone Manuel, a sophomore, holds the American and US Open record in the 100 yard freestyle with a 46.08. She is also the Olympic champion from Rio in the 100 meter freestyle.

Even if you're not a fan, you've probably heard of Katie Ledecky, now a freshman. She holds the American records in the 500, 1000, and 1650 yard freestyles, and two nights ago broke the American record in the 400 yard individual medley, a new event for her. She also won the 800 meter freestyle as a 15-year-old at the London Olympics, and won three individual golds in Rio.

The only other collegiate team I know of which had four separate national record holders was the Indiana men's swimming team of the early 1970's, with Mark Spitz, Gary Hall, John Kinsella, and Mike Stamm.

There have been plenty of powerhouse teams in lots of sports, and many dynasties that have lasted over a decade. But to have four individual US record holders on one team like that would be like having a college track team with the American record holders in the 100 meter dash, the mile, the 400 hurdles, and the shot put. Not just the NCAA record holders, but the American and US Open record holders. With two of them being individual Olympic champions.

In addition to the girls mentioned, Stanford has senior Lia Neal (a two time Olympian and a bronze and silver medalist) and junior Janet Hu (who ranks among the top 6 of all time in three separate individual events). Plus they have others like Allie Szekely and Katie Drabot with the potential to make A finals at NCAAs this year.

I was a little disgusted with the people who raved over the US Olympic basketball "Dream Team" of 1992. So they assembled an all-star NBA squad to thrash the semi-amateur teams of other, smaller countries -- so what?

I suppose my marveling over this Stanford team is not all that different in spirit. But it's sort of cool to see that sort of collection of talent when it's a group of amateurs going to a selective college and not just a bunch of jaded pros who are basically slumming by competing in the Olympics.


hooter tooter said...

"Even if you're not a fan, you've probably heard of Katie Ledecky ..."

I think you're overestimating the reach of Collegiate Sports. For instance, I gave up TV, Radio and Newspapers over twenty years ago. Even while in school, I would spend my time in the Computing Center rather than avail myself of the free tickets to the school's football games. One has to prioritize, and cluttering up one's mind with irrelevant trivia, well, it's counterproductive.

John Craig said...

Hooter tooter --
The reason I said that about Ledecky is not because of her collegiate accomplishments but because I figure most people watch the Olympics, and she got a to of attention from them. Plus she's just one of those people whose name gets splashed around a fair amount, like Michael Phelps. I applaud your focus and concentration, but most people haven't completely given up the MSM the way you have. (I haven't.) And so even though I'm not a tennis fan, I've heard of Roger Federer, and so on.