Today will feature both the shortest event on the men’s schedule (the 50 free) and the longest event on the women’s schedule (the 800). But the most compelling race of the meet seems like it’s going to be the men’s 100 fly semifinal; behind Michael Phelps, there’s a great battle between a lot of guys, one of which is Ryan Lochte.
10:04 AM – Charles Destro from Purdue is the top seed after 5 heats with a 23.14. That’s a best time for the 21-year old.
10:09 AM – Stanford’s Jacob Hartley is the first swimmer in the 50 free to break 23 seconds with a 22.72 out of heat 7. That’s a best time by six-tenths. Top seed through 10 heats (out of 17).
10:11 AM – Florida’s Bradley DeBorde marks a 22.76. He had a great college season for the Gators, and is developing into the sprinter that the Florida men so badly need.
10:12 AM – Dax Hill finally has a good swim, wins heat 11 in 23.12. That’s a best time for him and a heat win. He’s not going to make it back in this race – this wasn’t his best race – but it’s good to see him get that confidence back ahead of World University Games Trials at the U.S. Open.
10:17 AM – Shayne Fleming from Cal had a much better 50 than he did 100 with a 22.43. That should move on to the evening.
10:20 AM – Everyone in the arena saw Harvard’s Oliver Lee jump in the first of the circle-seeded heats. Didn’t seem to throw off anybody else, so no recall of the race.
Men’s 50 Free Prelims
The first round of the men’s 50 free already looks leaps-and-bounds better than what we saw in the 100 for the gentlemen sprinters. Jason Lezak scratched, but the Cal boys picked up the slack big-time, lead by of all people 2000 Olympic Champion Anthony Ervin in 21.83. That’s not only the best time he’s had since making his comeback, it sits only behind that Olympic title-winning swim from 2000 as his best time ever.
His teammate Nathan Adrian didn’t look quite as good, but was still stellar in 22.06 to take the number two seed. But that won’t be a spot easily held onto in the semi’s, as Jimmy Feigen split a 22.09 to tie for 3rd.
He was tied with the man from Friday’s 100, Cullen Jones, out of the elite training group at SwimMAC Carolina. Jones actually won his heat with that 22.09, and looks spectacular – as good as we’ve seen him since London. He needs to clean up his finishing drive if he wants to get in the top two on Sunday night, but so-far, he’s on fire.
The Stanford men, which have a vastly underrated sprint group, had a pair of good swims from Alex Coville (22.19 for 5th) and Jacob Hartley (22.72 for 18th). Their rivals from Cal, though, one-upped them just a bit with a third swimmer in the top 8 in the form of Shayne Fleming, who touched for 8th in 22.43. That’s a much better swim for Fleming than we saw from him in the 100 earlier in the meet.
Josh Schneider (22.21) and Matt Grevers (22.24) were 6th and 7th, respectively. For Grevers, that’s the best speed he’s shown in textile.
11:05 AM – The stroke that worked for Janet Evans when she was a teenager just isn’t working now. She’s not as quick as she was then – would have liked to see a little bit of a smoother stroke. 9:01.59, sits 25th overall through 4 heats.
Women’s 800 Free
There were some great swims at the top-end of this women’s 800 free, but with how stacked the field is, a lot of the swimmers slow-played the early rounds more than I thought they would. One swimmer took big-time advantage of that, which is 17-year old Danielle Valley from the Sarasota YMCA got in as the 8th seed in 8:36.59. Swimming out of lane 0, that’s an 8-second best time for her. There’s a lot of extremely young swimmers expected to make this final, but she probably wasn’t one of them.
With an average age of just-under 18-years old (17.875 for those who like precision), this will be an extremely young final. But it is still Kate Ziegler, the 23-year old who will be the oldest swimmer in this race on Saturday night, that topped the morning swim in 8:27.61 without really getting into her legs too much.
But the youth continued after that with Katie Ledecky taking the second seed in 8:27.91. That’s about two seconds off of her best time, though she seemed to relax for about 200 meters from the 500 to 700 marks, so she’s surely got a bigger time in her for tonight.
North Baltimore’s Gillian Ryan and National Teamer Chloe Sutton both swim very similar races, and it worked out that they were swimming right next to each other in lanes 5 and 6 in the second-to-last heat. They both negative split in closing 400 meters, including 1:01′s in the last 100. The younger Ryan just out-touched Sutton 8:28.99-8:29.01, but they were safely through in 3rd and 4th overall.
14-year old phenom Becca Mann continued to lift her star by making her third final of this meet (400 IM, 400 free, and now 800 free). She took the 5th seed in 8:31.53, which moves her within two-tenths of fellow Floridian Brooke Bennett for 4th on the all-time list for 13-14′s.
Open water star Haley Anderson, looking for a possible double with the pool swim, was 6th in 8:33.53, and Stephanie Peacock was 7th in 8:34.78.
There were some decent names that missed this by not performing to their best - Rachel Zilinskas from Germantown was 9th in 8:37.01, and Leah Smith was 12th in 8:38.94. But both of them will have big opportunities in 2016; one who may not is T2′s Katie Hoff who wrapped her serious run at a third-straight Olympics with an 8:38.94.
11:51 AM – Bolles is another program swimming well. Not that that’s anything new for Sergio Lopez. HS senior Santo Condorelli, puts up a 54.23 in heat 4 of the men’s 100 fly.
11:55 AM – Ryan Murphy scratched the 100 fly. Out of heat 8, UNLV’s Cody Roberts goes 54.01. Nice swim for him, good to see him hitting a taper again.
Men’s 100 Fly
Michael Phelps worked a little bit harder in this 100 fly than he has in any of his other morning swims, but this is also the first race shorter than a 200 that he’s competed in. The shorter races have a smaller margin of error, which means he has to push his speed early.
The top names fell in line behind him, including a big swim by Tyler McGill (51.78), Davis Tarwater in 3rd (52.13), and Tim Phillips in 4th (52.14). I think that all four of those guys are likely to be betterthan 52-seconds even in the semi-finals, as this is the last chance for any of them to make the Olympic Team.
Tom Shields’ underwaters, that are so famous in a yards pool, finally rolled him over into long course with a 52.18. That’s his best time by half-a-second.
Ryan Lochte had a very good race, seemingly without expending a whole lot of energy, to sit as the 6th seed in 52.21. He’ll need to really push his front-half in the semi-finals if he wants to be a contender for top two.
Other notable names include Giles Smith from Arizona in 53.03; he’s last year’s NCAA runner-up, and is usually better in long course than short course.
Michigan State’s Jacob Jarzen was 12th in the morning prelims, which is only one spot lower than the 11th-place finish he had at NCAA’s. That’s going to be huge for this program and regardless of what happens in the semi’s, that should catapult him to a big senior season.
There were a pair of high schoolers in this final as well; with USC-bound Maclin Davis, the high school record holder, sitting 13th and Nitro’s Matthew Ellis 15th.
Women’s 200 Backstroke
There is a huge disparity between the swimmers at the top of this field and those closer to the cut time, which resulted in a mis-estimate of the cut time and a huge field of swimmers.
As it was, only three swimmers broke the 2:10 barrier, headed by Missy Franklin in 2:08.35. She didn’t seem too happy about her swim, but it was a very relaxed 2:08. Overall at this meet, Missy has been better in the sprints though, so she may not come close to her American Record in this race.
Liz Pelton was 2nd in 2:08.89 and Elizabeth Beisel was 3rd in 2:09.35.
There was a lot of young blood in this race as well – Arizona bound Bonnie Brandon was the 4th seed, with high schoolers Kylie Stewart and Kaitlyn Jones just behind her. As young as the 800 final was, this 200 back semi is going to blow it away: 14 out of the top 16 in prelims are either still in high school, or juts graduated in the spring. That includes another great young Nitro swimmer Quinn Carrozza in 12th in 2:13.49, and Crow Canyon’s Madison White in 10th.
Teresa Crippen, looking for her first Olympic Team after being on a number of international rosters, was 8th in 2:12.34; she’ll have a big challenge ahead to get to the 2:08 or better it’s going to take to make the team in this race.