Video captured by Garrett McCaffrey.
We watch a lot of 500 freestyles here at SwimSwam. This was the best 500 freestyle race that I’ve ever watched, with 7 swimmers in this final coming into-and-out-of contention. At the finish, though, it was USC’s Haley Anderson who repeated as NCAA Champion in 4:34.66. She wasn’t the fastest through the middle portion of this race, but she was the fastest to 200 yards, and had the best last 50. In a middle-distance race like this, those are the keys.
Her winning time was 4:34.66; even with an arguably better field this year, that’s actually a few tenths slower than her winning time from last season. The race was very tactical though. She pushed harder than she usually does early in the race; this one was all about placing, not records.
Meanwhile, we saw one more example of why it’s so hard to win four career titles in the same event at this meet. Allison Schmitt had never lost this 500 free (she won it her first three years before last year’s redshirt), but finished 6th in this race in 4:36.73. This is the second-straight season that we’ve seen a Georgia swimmer with a chance at pulling off four-straight, but coming up short (Wendy Trott was runner-up in the mile last season).
Aside from not getting the win, this race still went very well for Georgia, however. Amber McDermott, who led with 100 yards to go, was 2nd overall in 4:34.86 and Shannon Vreeland was 3rd in 4:35.95.
Arizona freshman Bonnie Brandon is becoming more-and-more known for these distance freestyles, in addition to her primary 200 backstroke. She was 4th in 4:35.96. Such an impressive time here means big potential for that 200 back on Saturday – perhaps even mixing it up with the likes of Pelton and Beisel for gold.
Indiana’s Lindsay Vrooman was 5th in 4:36.41, and UNC’s Danielle Siverling ran out of steam on her last 100 to finish 7th in 4:37.57.
Tennessee’s Lindsay Gendron looked like she still had a lot of adrenaline going from the relay win, but after 250 yards was pretty much gassed and finished 8th.
Texas A&M’s Sarah Henry gave the Aggies a second B-Final win in as many events, swimming a 4:36.53. She sort of got hung on a slow heat in the morning, but even this time is shy of the 4:33 she was mid-season.
Florida’s Jess Thielmann was 10th overall in 4:38.10. Both Georgia and Cal moved up a few spots in that B-Final.