Select members of the Columbia women’s swimming team will head down to Texas on Thursday for the prestigious AT&T Winter National Short Course Championships.
Winter Nationals has long been an outlier among American swim meets. Though the cuts are competitive, many top swimmers and programs—including, this year, all the other Ivies—opt out of the competition because it occurs midseason. Still, teenage stars such as Missy Franklin, Katie Ledecky and other Olympians head the billing for the showcase of the nation’s best in a short-course pool meet, which could see the fall of some national records.
Led by senior co-captain Katie Meili, who has ranked within the top ten in three of her four events, 11 Lions will take Austin for four days. Columbia will participate in the four sprint relays: the 4x50 and 4x100 medley, along with the 4x50 and 4x100 freestyle.
While Meili is well positioned to make the podium in all of her events—200 individual medley (seeded 4th), 100 breast (6th), 200 breast (9th), and 50 free (20th)—the Lions’ strongest contingency will be in the 100 fly, where they have both experience and young talent. Freshmen Christina Ray and Ritty Zhai and seniors Caroline Lukins and Kristina Parsons will all compete in the event. Lukins will swim again in the 200 fly with freshman Kristine Ng.
In other individual events, junior Alena Kluge will swim the 200 and 400 IM and the 200 back, sophomore Salena Huang will compete in the 100, 200, and 500 free, and sophomore Mikaila Gaffey will swim the 100 breast and 50 free.