Day 7 of the 2012 US Olympic Swimming Trials at the CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Nebraska, will be one of the best of the entire session. With 4 finals and 1 semi, we’ll get a to see many of the big names, and many of the more compelling storylines of the entire meet.
That includes another Ryan Lochte-Michael Phelps battle, this time in the 100 fly where Phelps has a decided advantage. But that 100 fly will even have bigger stories aside from Lochte-Phelps. There’s Tyler McGill shooting for his first Olympic spot; Davis Tarwater looking to avoid heartbreak again, and young stars Tim Phillips and Tom Shields trying to break-through.
We’ll also get a Missy Franklin 200 backstroke swim where she still might be in the hunt for an American or World Record. Then there will be the men’s 50 free final that will determine once-and-for-all just how successful Anthony Ervin’s comeback is going to be.
Be sure to refresh, as we’ll be updating with event-by-event recaps as fast as we can.
Women’s 200 backstroke Final
All of a sudden on Sunday, the hype for a Missy Franklin World Record got red-hot. It spread through the major media with apparent disregard from what we saw in previous races. Aside from her 100 back, very early in the meet, Franklin looked under-rested at this meet (intentionally or not), and though she had an outstanding time in the women’s 200 back to win and claim her 4th individual Olympic spot (and 2nd title of this meet), her 2:06.12 wasn’t close to her American Record in the race. That’s the World-leader this year by about five-tenths.
Elizabeth Beisel didn’t let Franklin get too far away from her, and thanks to a great third 50 put Liz Pelton away and scored the other individual spot in this race for London. Beisel’s 2:07.58 is the fastest she’s ever been in textile, and will give her a second race along with the 400 IM. Now we’ll have to see how well she does when she has a much lighter schedule in London.
Pelton was 3rd in 2:08.06 and won’t make the Olympic Team. She hasn’t had a “bad” meet per se, she just hasn’t been great either. Bonnie Brandon, who with her impressive size has a great future, was the only other swimmer under 2:10 with a 2:09.52.
Youth truly was the story in this 200 backstroke; only a single swimmer (Teresa Crippen in 7th) is out of her teens. That includes 16-year old Kylie Stewart in 5th in 2:10.68 – that juts misses her best time by .07 seconds.
Men’s 100 Fly Final
Michael Phelps paced this 100 fly just-about perfectly, and pushed his first 50 meters just as much as he needed to in order to come away with a win in the men’s 100 fly in 51.14. He used his trademarked back-half on that swim (the only finalist to close in under 27.1) to post both a winner and a world-leading time, which basically ensures him the ability to complete the same 8-event schedule that he took 8 gold medals in at the 2008 Olympics.
But Tyler McGill didn’t let him feel comfortable in this race. McGill wasn’t able to pull off the upset, but he did fight for a second-place swim in 51.32.
Ryan Lochte, who would say after the race that he actually trained this morning and was using this “for fun” rather than admitting any designs on a medley relay spot.
Tom Shields took 4th in a best-time of 51.86, including a great second-half. The sky is his limit in his senior season at Cal next year; even though he didn’t make the Olympic Team, with how many improvements he’s made in his stroke on top of the water this summer, he’s going to be nearly unbeatable in short course.
And then there’s the SwimMAC boys: Davis Tarwater, Tim Phillips, and Eugene Godsoe. They went 5-6-7 in this race, but all of them took the first 50 with blazing speed. They were the three-fastest to the turn, but just ran out of gas. None of the three will go to London.
Women’s 800 Free Final
Katie Ledecky’s 800 free win in 8:19.78, when all of the dust settles, will be the most unreal swim of this meet so far. She went out in a 2:01.67, which is unreal-good for an opening leg. That’s the kind of front-end speed that you only see in textile from the all-time greats like Kate Ziegler, Rebecca Adlington, and Laure Manaudou.
Moreso than every other swimmer in this field, who all swam with a traditional, balanced, even-tempo stroke, Ledecky swam with a gallop. Picture Michael Phelps in the 200 free, only she did it for a full 800 meters. She was generating much more power out of each stroke than one would usually see out of a distance swimmer, and she didn’t crack! She doesn’t have a ton of experience, but she just didn’t crack. She pushed and pushed and pushed, turning halfway in a 4:08, and still having enough to close in under 30 seconds.
And all of this from just a 15-year old. That was the best swim of the entire week. Period. I’m not sure that an American crowd has gotten behind an 800 freestyle like that in the last decade, at least. Her coach Yuri Suguiyama stayed pretty calm until the last turn. When it became obvious that she was going to win, he just erupted and screamed as loud as he could.
She now ranks 2nd in the world this year, behind only last year’s World Champion Adlington, and as the fifth-fastest American in history. She also moved closer to Janet Evans’ 15-16 National Age Group Record in that race; this puts her 2.5 seconds back, and 8-seconds better than anyone else in history in the group. And she’s still got a whole year to go after that record.
As for the runner-up, Kate Ziegler has bounced back in her time training in Virginia (both of these girls are from the D.C. area) to take the second spot in 8:21.87. For a veteran like her, that can’t be overlooked as the third-best swim of her career, and third-best in the world this year. Ziegler is settling back into her old routines with her former program at the Fish after a big chunk of time away, and suddenly the Americans have to gold-medal contenders for London, which it didn’t look like we would be able to say even once at this time last year.
Haley Anderson coming off of her open water Olympic qualification with a best time in this 800 in 8:26.60, and Chloe Sutton was 4th in 8:28.12. Sutton has really focused on improving the power in her lower-half since making the full-time transition to pool-swimming, and that seems to have made her more of a 400 freestyler at this point of her career.
As if a 15-year old winning weren’t enough, 14-year old Becca Mann took 5th in 8:28.54. That breaks an epic, 34-year old National Age Group Record for 13-14′s set by Sippy Woodhead that had been 8:29.35. That is one of the oldest records in American swimming, and can’t be overshadowed even by the amazing Ledecky swim. In her third final, Mann completed an outstanding meet that is one of the best we’ve ever seen by a swimmer that young.
Men’s 50 Free
The unbelievable session continued into the men’s 50 freestyle. For the first time of this meet, SwimMAC’s Cullen Jones coupled his great start with an outstanding finish, and that all came together in a 21.59. That’s the second-best swim in the world this year, and the fastest that he’s been outside of 2009, which was the best year of his career (suited or not).
Anthony Ervin took 2nd in 21.60, completing his comeback with an Olympic berth. He drove hard at the end of this race and his nearly-flawless technique carried him to another best time in the race, and he will have a chance to compete in his first Olympics in 12 years.
SwimMAC’s Josh Schneider maxed-out at a 21.78, a best time, and Jimmy Feigen was 5th in 21.93. Those five Americans, all under 22 seconds, is a slew more than we had in the whole of 2011.
Matt Grevers took 6th in 22.09.
Women’s 50 Free Semifinals
Just as the American men had 5 swimmers under 22 seconds, the American men followed-up with 5 swimmers under 25 seconds in the two semi-finals. All of the top 50 freestylers made this final safely, including another top-seed from Jessica Hardy in 24.56. She and Tucson Ford’s Christine Magnuson are the top two seeds (Magnuson in 24.72), and both have really made a transition from their own primary strokes to these sprint freestyles, and thus far it’s paying off for both.
Dara Torres looked much better coming off of the blocks in this semi-final than she did in the prelims, and she swam a 24.80. I wasn’t sure that she could really get that low, but she still
Madison Kennedy and Kara Lynn Joyce, who have been training together at SwimMAC just the last few weeks, touched juts apart in 24.96 and 24.97.
Margo Geer, Kait Flederbech, and defending National Champion Lara Jackson, all from Tucson Ford, round out the A-Final.