The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

Swimming: Vanderbilt makes its return to the NCAA Championships

Junior Kailia Utley was invited to swim two events at the NCAA Championships, marking the first appearance by a Commodore in decades.
Kailia+Utley+swimming+butterfly%2C+as+photographed+on+March+23%2C+2024.+%28Vanderbilt+Athletics%29
Vanderbilt Athletics
Kailia Utley swimming butterfly, as photographed on March 23, 2024. (Vanderbilt Athletics)

After meeting the B standard in both the 100 and 200 yard butterfly, Kailia Utley was invited to compete at the NCAA Championships, which took place at Gabrielsen Natatorium in Athens, G.A. from March 20-23. Utley was the first Commodore to be invited to the tournament since Wendy Deacon in 1989.

During Vanderbilt’s historic performance at the SEC Championships, Utley set two new team records in the 100 and 200 fly, meeting the NCAA B standard in both events. However, unsure of whether her qualifying times would be fast enough to earn her an invitation to compete, Utley decided to swim the 200 fly at the Bulldog NCAA Qualifying Meet — a last chance for swimmers to meet cut times, hosted at the Gabrielsen Natatorium.

It was at the Bulldog NCAA Qualifying Meet where Utley punched her ticket to the NCAA Championships. While she failed to outdo her personal best in the preliminary round, Utley excelled in finals, taking first place in the event and resetting her personal school record with a time of 1:55.51. The time lifted her to No. 33 in the nation — good enough to earn an invitation back to Athens.

With the invitation, Utley was allowed to compete in both events for which she met the B standard. On Friday, Utley competed in the 100 fly prelims. While she was unable to improve upon her performance at the SEC Championships, she outdid her seed position by six spots, moving up from 58th to 52nd with a time of 53.01. Saturday’s prelims were a similar story for Utley, as she improved from 33rd to 31st, but her time of 1:56.37 fell short of her own program record time.

With the conclusion of the NCAA Championships, the Commodores will now enter the offseason. Vanderbilt Swimming will return in August in preparation for the 2024-25 season.

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About the Contributor
Vincent Xu
Vincent Xu, Sports Copy Editor
Vincent Xu (‘27) is planning on majoring in economics with a minor in data science in the College of Arts and Science. Outside of The Hustler, Vincent enjoys playing sports, watching sports, talking sports and a couple of other things that are sadly unrelated to sports. He can be reached at [email protected].
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