The final day of the 2012 U.S. Open Championships in Indianapolis, Indiana wrapped up with a bang. A ton of huge best times went down, as we learned a lot about a group of American swimmers who are on the verge of the American National Team, and could be among the big stars when the 2016 Rio Olympics come around.
Women’s 1500 Free
14-year old budding American superstar Becca Mann had a stiff double to cap off the meet. First, she w0n the women’s 1500 by a landslide in 16:14.41. She was already the second-fastest swimmer in the history of the age group, but she now moves two seconds closer to the National Record that stands at 16:12.21 from Michelle Richardson in 1984. She was 23-seconds ahead of runner-up Megan Rankin (16:37.10) in what is a non-Olympic distance, for now.
But the extremely-fast time is not what was most impressive about this. She went straight from the podium, receiving her medal, to the blocks for the 200 IM. It clearly cost her, as she finished 8th in the C-Final in a 2:20 in the 200 IM, but to even attempt that speaks a lot about both her mentality and enthusiasm. She swims at the Clearwater Aquatic Team for coach Randy Reese, who is known to evoke this sort of toughness from his athletes.
Women’s 200 IM
Texas A&M’s redshirt-sophomore Sarah Henry ended her meet on a high-note, winning the women’s 200 IM in 2:12.81. This is her 4th podium of the meet, but first victory. She now ranks as the 7th-best American in 2012, and top-30 in the world.
She is in the Aggie high school class of 2010 that made a big impact in their first two years of college, but even moreso this summer. That class has produced three event winners between the Olympic Trials and this U.S. Open (Breeja Larson, Cammile Adams), though Henry missed last season with injury. She has primarily excelled at the longer races (400 free, 400 IM) but this swim is a new facet for her as almost a three-second lifetime best. That speed showed up in her 200 free as well earlier in the meet; her return along with that of Lili Ibanez will take the A&M 800 free relay from a non-scorer to a possible top-8 result next season at NCAA’s.
Georgia’s Melanie Margalis was 2nd in 2:13.26; just like in prelims, she roared to the front on the breaststroke leg, but this time Henry had the freestyle finish to overcome her at the wall. That’s still a second lifetime-best for her.
USC’s Meghan Hawthorne was 3rd in 2:13.71, followed by Erika Erndl in 2:13.74.
Men’s 200 IM
Australia’s Kenneth To didn’t look quite as fresh in this 200 IM, but in fairness has had a long meet. He’ll be happy to walk away with a second event win in 2:00.13.
To sprinted out to a two-second lead over the entire field, but gave most of it back on the freestyle leg, where he anchored in 29.91 (note: only .2 faster than Sarah Henry closed hers; only .09 faster than Erika Erndl closed hers. Take note).
Cal’s Adam Hinshaw left a huge impression with his 200 IM, finishing in 2:00.57. That amounts to a four-and-a-half second time drop for him in the event at this meet alone. Much like we saw from women’s winner Henry, he’s show great improvements in speed with this swim, which is a sign of physical maturation for the 18-year old. Probably partially a result of the increased weight-training with famed strength coach Nick Folker that Cal swimmers begin after their freshman seasons. That’s also the 5th-fastest swim in age group history.
Arizona’s Cory Chitwood had a great closing 50 to land on the podium as well, with a third-place time of 2:00.84. Michigan’s Kyle Whitaker was 4th in 2:01.08.
Indiana’s Cody Miller was DQ’ed in the A-final, making 5 relatively big names who were nipped in this race; it’s not clear what the reasons for any of the disqualifications were.
Men’s 800 Free
Ryan Feeley, part of the increasingly-prominent Michigan distance group, topped the non-Olympic men’s 800 in 8:00.55. That’s the fourth-best time by an American this year, though the first three are all splits en route to 1500 swims at either Trials or the Olympics.
Britain’s Jack Burnell was 2nd in 8:02.33, followed by his countrymate Matthew Johnson in 8:06.78.
Women’s 50 Free
If Cal’s Liv Jensen is debating whether or not to retire now that her collegiate career is over (and we don’t know that she is), this swim to close the U.S. Open will be a great final piece of data leaning toward continuing the fight. She took the win in a lifetime best of 25.19. That is among the top-10 times swum by Americans in 2012, with tiny amounts separating her and the 25.05 needed to make the National Team.
Georgia’s Megan Romano just missed sweeping the meet with a 25.37, close to a best time for her as well.
Australia’s Olivia Halicek and Canada’s Sandrine Mainville were just behind in 25.48 and 25.51, respectively. Australia’s Shayna Jack, only 13 years old, placed 5th in 25.53.
Men’s 50 Free
The Abood brothers finished 1-2, just like this morning, in Matthew Abood (22.20) and Andrew Abood (22.39). American Nick Brunelli was 3rd in 22.48.