For the second-straight day, a Texas post-graduate trainee came through big for the Americans with an unexpected silver medal. On Wednesday, that person was Michael McBroom in the men’s 800 meter freestyle. On Thursday, that person was Jimmy Feigen, who was a 47.82 in the men’s 100 freestyle to place 2nd: behind James Magnussen, and ahead of the United States’ best and reigning Olympic Champion Nathan Adrian.
We learned a lot of things in this swim. One is that the University of Texas, under the watchful eye of Eddie Reese, is still a top-flight post-graduate training program. In the one swim we’ve seen from Ricky Berens at this meet, plus the performances thus far from Feigen (400 free relay notwithstanding) and McBroom, the Texas Exes have been very, very good.
This program may not have quite the same sparkle and glitter as they did when Brendan Hansen, Aaron Peirsol, and Ian Crocker, among others, were all there battling each other, but Texas is still putting swimmers onto the national stage, and onto podium once they got there.
The second is Feigen’s ability to recover from that 400 free relay. He received a lot of criticism for his anchor leg: this is no secret. Feigen, though, comes across as one of these guys who can forget mistakes, who can stay upbeat even in the face of adversity, and who can take every race without regard to what he just did. Immediately after that 400 free relay, he Tweeted simply “Sometimes you win the race and sometimes the race wins you. Proud of my team USA teammates today and looking forward to tomorrow #bettereachday”.
Then silence until after his job was done in the individual 100 free. That Tweet is sort of indicative of how Feigen seems to operate: he made his peace with the 400 free relay, and committed to be better the next time, and he was.
And finally, he hushed many naysayers who have been wondering when he would have his big breakthrough by beating the great Nathan Adrian, his American counterpart. The two were swimming nose-to-nose in this 100, in lanes 5 and 4. They’ve been in that position many times in college, and almost every time Adrian came out on top. Feigen didn’t win his first individual NCAA title until his senior year: the year after Adrian graduated.
So who gets the nod on the 400 medley relay in finals? The Americans don’t get a test this time around, they have to decide going in who will swim which round. In all likelihood, Adrian still gets the spot on the basis of his experience and consistency, but the fact that Feigen even made it a discussion, for the reasons listed above and others, says volumes about how impressive this swim was.
Other Day 5 Observations:
- The Americans are in great position to go 1-2 in the men’s 200 backstroke again, and that doesn’t even include the 1:55 that Ryan Murphy did at the U.S. Open last night.
- Ryan Lochte’s gold medal in the 200 IM was his first gold medal of this meet.
- The Americans didn’t have any finalists in the 200 breaststroke. That’s the first time that this has ever happened at the World Championships. In fact, until 2007, the Americans had never failed to medal in this event since it began in 1973. Now they will have gone medal-less in three of the last four.
- With Katie Ledecky and Missy Franklin as their bookends, and neither’s improvement curve seeming to be slowing down, the American 800 free relay will be good for a very long time. If they can get a full-strength Allison Schmitt back any time soon, they could legitimately take down this World Record (and its a really fast one).
- Micah Lawrence was phenomenal and medal-worthy in the prelims of the women’s 200 breaststroke. In the semi-finals, she was very good as well, but not to that same level. She’s going to have to overcome Marina Garcia, with the Spanish crowd behind her, plus hold off the likes of Japan’s Rie Kaneto to get a medal. We’ve seen the 2:21 from her at this meet, now she just need to prove that she can get her head right to do that one more time in finals.
Missy Franklin, 17-18 National Age Group Record, 100 free, 53.36 (prelims)
Old Record: Missy Franklin, 53.43, 2013 USA Swimming National Championships