10 swimmers to watch at the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships

College swimming is more competitive than ever, as the country’s top talent continues to crack both American and NCAA records in the pool. Now, all that talent is together in top form in the same place, at the 2017 NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships taking place Wednesday through Saturday at the IUPUI Natatorium in Indianapolis, Ind. While Georgia took the title last year, all eyes this season are on pool powerhouse Stanford. The Cardinal have been getting the job done, shattering American records in individual events and the relays. Here are the top 10 swimmers you won’t want to miss this week in Indy.

1. Katie Ledecky, Stanford (200-yd freestyle, 500-yd free, 1,650-yd free): Ledecky is the best-known name right now in swimming, male or female, after she won four golds and one silver at the 2016 Olympic Games. Not surprisingly, the freshman has made a big splash her first year as a Cardinal, recently setting four American records at the Pac-12 Championships. At the Stanford-Cal dual meet last month, Ledecky swam to pool record times in the 200-yd, 500-yd, and the 1,000-yd freestyle — all reasons why she’s been named Pac-12 Swimmer of the Month for the second time this season. 

2. Leah Smith, Virginia (200-yd free, 500-yd free, 1,650-yd free): Indy will be the last NCAA championships of Smith’s college career, so expect the two-time Olympic medalist to be hungry to take the win in her freestyle races against Ledecky. Last year, the 21-year-old won both the women’s 500 and 1,650 freestyle events.

So excited for my last NCAAs ever to start tomorrow… #tbt to little Leah and not caring about my times ?

A post shared by Leah Smith (@leahsmith19) on

[More from Excelle Sports: France’s Laure Manaudou honored into ISHOF Class of 2017]

3. Ella Eastin, Stanford (200-yd individual medley, 400-yd IM, 200-yd butterfly): This sophomore has already made waves for Stanford: Last year, at age 18, Eastin became the youngest swimmer to swim under 4 minutes in the 400 IM at the Pac-12 Championships. Look for her to continue her dominance this year in both the IM events and the 200 fly. 

4. Simone Manuel, Stanford (50-yd free, 100-yd free, 200-yd free): This four-time Olympic medalist was the first African-American swimmer ever to win a gold medal in an individual event when she did so in the women’s 100m freestyle at the Rio Olympics. The sophomore also recently broke the Pac-12 Championships meet record in the 100 free with a time of 46.36. 

5. Lilly King, Indiana (100-yd breaststroke, 200-yd breaststroke, 200-yd IM): Just last month, this 2016 Olympian broke the American record in the 100 breast at the Big Ten Championships with a time of 56.30. Last year, the sophomore was also the first swimmer ever to clock under 57 seconds in the 100 breast. This season, there’s every reason to believe that she might flirt with breaking the 56 barrier. 

Cheesin cause the Hoosiers are absolutely KILLING it! Can't wait for our last night in Atlanta???

A post shared by Lilly King (@_king_lil) on

[More from Excelle Sports: Katie Ledecky named Pac-12 Swimmer of the Month]

6. Ally Howe, Stanford (100 Backstroke, 200 Backstroke, 200 IM)  Recently at the Pac-12 Championships, the Junior broke Natalie Coughlin’s 15 year-old American record in the 100 backstroke in a time of 49.69, becoming only the second swimmer in history to accomplish the feat. All eyes will be on this Cardinal in the backstroke events and of course, the medley relay. 

7. Kathleen Baker, California (100-yd backstroke, 200-yd backstroke, 200-yd IM): The two-time Olympic medalist is as versatile as she is fast. While the sophomore opted out of the 200 free to focus on her backstroke events and 200 IM, she will still likely compete in the 800-yd freestyle relay, extending her breadth at Indy.

Game face pout ? #grrrr #DU

A post shared by Kathleen Baker (@kathleenbaker2) on

8. Janet Hu, California (100-yd butterfly, 100-yd backstroke, 200-yd backstroke): At the Pac-12 championships last month, Hu became the fourth fastest swimmer in short course yards history in both the 100 backstroke and 100 butterfly. The junior will fight to beat Stanford’s Howe in the 100 backstroke final and be a top contender for the podium in the 100 fly.

9. Farida Osman, California (100-yd butterfly, 50-yd free, 100-yd free): Osman, who was born in Indianapolis, but raised in Egypt, will be a hometown favorite at the championships. The senior sprinter won the first-ever international medal for Egypt in the 50-m butterfly at the 2011 World Junior Swimming Championships in Peru and has continued to be a force in the freestyle and butterfly sprints since.

10. Abby Weitzel, California (50-yd freestyle, 100-yd freestyle, 200-yd freestyle): The two-time Olympic medalist broke her first American record just six years after she picked up swimming. The freshman will now face off against Stanford’s Simone Manuel in the sprint freestyle and be a key player in the relay events.

To watch the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships, click here for the preliminary events and here for the finals on Friday and Saturday.

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