The 2013 U.S. Open Championships began Wednesday in Irvine, California, with a lot on the line. That includes potential spots on the Junior National Team, the Senior National Team, and large USA Swimming stipends.
The first night of action was really pretty impressive, even when butting-up against the World Championships.
Women’s 200 Fly – FINALS
Great Britain’s Tilly Gray (who is actually in her 20′s, not 15 as the official results read) broke 2:10 for the first time in her career with a 2:09.83 to win the women’s 200 fly. That ranks her as the third-fastest Brit this year.
Georgia Bulldogs junior Lauren Harrington took 2nd in 2:10.32, followed by Canadian/Indiana swimmer Brenna Maclean in 2:10.39.
Future Georgia Bulldog Megan Kingsley added about four-tenths from prelims to finish 4th in 2:11.56.
Also note that in this final, Emma Reaney from Notre Dame was 8th in 2:14; she was a 2:13 in prelims. She is a very good IM’er, but her primary stroke is breaststroke. She continues to impress with results like this, a bit reminiscent of what Caitlin Leverenz did as she got older.
Men’s 200 Fly – FINALS
South Africa’s Sebastien Rousseau didn’t swim at South Africa’s World Championship Trials, but if he had, he might’ve been in line for a Worlds medal. He swam a 1:55.64 for win the men’s 200 fly and break Tom Malchow’s 11-year old Meet Record of 1:55.66. That time would have put him through as the 3rd seed into Wednesday’s finals at Worlds.
Rousseau’s South African teammate Dylan Bosch, one of the highest-scoring freshman in the NCAA last year for Michigan, placed 2nd in 1:57.28, and Stanford post-grad Bobby Bollier was 3rd in 1:57.32.
Women’s 100 Free – FINALS
Another international 1-2 in the women’s 100 free, but this one came from Australia, as Yolane Kukla won in 54.87 and Kelly Stubbins was 2nd in 55.26. For Kukla, who moved west to train in Perth since the last Olympics, that’s her best time since finding a new training ground: going about a tenth quicker than she was at Australia’s World Championship Trials in April.
The top-finishing American is SwimAtlanta’s Amanda Weir in 55.27, and 2012 American Olympian Lia Neal was 4th in 55.32.
Maddy Schaefer of Stanford and Sarah Denninghoff of Texas were 5th-and-6th, respectively.
Florida’s Natalie Hinds won the B-Final in 55.78 ahead of Tennessee’s/SwimMAC’s Faith Johnson in 55.92, giving Hinds the edge for two of the country’s premier sophomore sprinters.
Men’s 100 Free – FINALS
Perhaps the buzziest swim of the night was from Purdue 21-year old senior-to-be Danny Tucker, who wins the men’s 100 free in 49.11. That’s faster than he was in prelims, and would have put him into finals at the World Championship Trials where he only swam the 50.
Tucker is not as “out of nowhere” as some have suggested; he peaked pre-NCAA’s last year, but ended the year as the country’s 8th-ranked 50 yard freestyler (19.3). This development in the 100 is really impressive, as his 50 freestyle has by-far been his strength up until this year.
He beat a solid field that included runner-up Dax Hill swimming a best time of 49.17, and Cal’s Seth Stubblefield in 49.33. Tucson Ford/South African Darian Townsend was 4th in 49.55.
Men’s 1500 Free – TIMED FINAL
Auburn’s Zane Grothe went a best time in the 1500 freestyle at the World Championship Trials with a 15:29 at the end of June.
Now, one month later, the All-American left that time in the dust, swimming a 15:13.39 to win the men’s 1500 freestyle U.S. Open Title. He swan out of the early heats, which may have worked in his favor as what ultimately became a very close finish didn’t have him in sight as a visible target. Australia’s Matthew Levings, was 2nd in 15:14.48 and the University of Florida’s Arthur Frayler was 3rd in 15:14.92.
Dan O’Connor, who is transferring from North Carolina to Buffalo next year but is training with Mission Viejo for the summer, was 4th in 15:17.08.
Ireland’s Andrew Meegan was 5th in 15:19.98, which broke his own National Record by 5 seconds.
Women’s 800 Free – TIMED FINAL
North Baltimore’s Gillian Ryan, on the other hand, hadn’t gone a best time in the 800 since 2011 when she won the 800 free National Championship at just 15 years old, even though she was 3rd at the World Championship Trials
She has been on-fire this year, though, and so it was no surprise that she crushed her best time by two seconds, winning the U.S. Open title in 8:25.57. She put a massive negative-split into this race, going out in 4:14 and coming home in 8:25.
Texas A&M’s Sarah Henry was 2nd in 8:26.39, a best time for her by 12 seconds, and Haley Anderson returned to Southern California in a hurry after winning the 5km World Championship to swim at this meet. Her 3rd place finish in 8:29.71 was a hair better than at the World Championship Trials, but it should affirm her spot on the National Team: vital as she heads into her first year as a post-graduate.