The final day of the 2014 U.S. Junior National Championships had a dichotomy, as we’ve been alluding to all day. For some swimmers, it was a punctuation on a long, strong week of swimming, and for others it was a quick tuneup before the big-boy Nationals that begin Wednesday in the same pool.
Because this is Junior Nationals, we’ll start with those wrapping their stories up. (1) Amy Bilquist finished her meet off rightfully with a 25.28 win in the girls’ 50 free, sealing up a triple for her this week on the 50 free, 100 free, and 100 back. (2) Sierra Schmidt won the girls’ 1500 free to round off her triple of the 400, 800, and 1500 meter freestyles.
But Townley Haas was the man this week, winning the 100, 200, 400, and 800 meter freestyles (he probably would have won the 1500 as well were it not on a conflict with the 100). Female swimmers win four titles at this long course National Championship meet with some regularity – Gillian Ryan did it in 2012, Jasmine Tosky won 5 in 2010, and Missy Franklin won 5 in 2009.
For men, though, it’s much rarer. Even versatile talents like Gunnar Bentz have never done it. (3) It’s been half-a-decade, in fact, since a male swimmer won as many as four individual titles – Kyle Whitaker (then from the Duneland Swim Club, now from the University of Michigan) took four-and-a-half titles in 2009 – he won the 200 free, 200 fly, 200 IM, 400 IM, and tied for the win in the 100 fly.
That tests the debate over which is more impressive – lateral or horizontal versatility? Are Whitaker’s wins in three different disciplines more or less impressive than Townley’s range? Whitaker ran away with most of those wins back in 2009 (by four seconds in the 200 fly), even moreso than how Haas did this week.
If you said Alex Clarke, then you knew the answer to (5) who is the breaststroke leg on the Carmel girls’ medley relay. Carmel had the Junior National Champion in the 100 back (Amy Bilquist), the 100 fly (Veronica Burchill), the 100 free (Bilquist again), and the runner-up in the 100 back as well (Claire Adams). Clarke was the fourth piece to that relay, and she split a 1:15.78 to get the Carmel girls on the podium.
SwimMAC, who didn’t have much of their elite juniors at the meet until Sunday, swooped in and took the win. (6) Maija Roses’ 1:09.80 split on the breaststroke leg was the best in the field – and only Carolyn McCann from KING was close in 1:09.90.
In prelims, (7) Caeleb Dressel looked like he was cruising over the last 15 meters en route to a 22.6 in the boys’ 50 free. In finals, Dressel looked like he was cruising the last 10-12 meters en route to a 22.36 win. Either the looks of Dressel’s finishes are deceiving (right, Dr. Sturdy and Mrs. Westfall?), or he’s found his rhythm again in a hurry this summer.
Speaking of the boys’ 50 free, many in our audience noticed the (8) diversity today. Of course, our more sophisticated readers will fall over themselves making a comment about “swimming is so diverse, this shouldn’t even be news, why are you talking about it?” The rest of us, however, know that ours is a sport not really at that point yet. It appears as though all of the diversity initiatives, both directly through USA Swimming and those independent of it, are paying off.
Not that it diminishes what Michael Andrew accomplished in winning his first career Junior National title in the 100 back on Saturday, but his runner-up (9) Michael Taylor of the Dynamo Swim Club will have the fastest time of the meetin the boys’ 100 back. He lead off Dynamo’s 5th-place 400 medley relay in 55.51 – better than Andrew’s winning 55.73.
(10 the big finale, firework finish) – all of the other really fast medley relay splits:
- Andrew Liang, PASA, 100 fly (53.61)
- Justin Lynch, Terrapins Swim Team, 100 fly (53.01)
- Blake Pieroni, Indiana University Swim Team, 100 free (49.93)
- Peter Kropp, Canyons, 100 breast (1:01.91)
- Tate Jackson, Nitro, 100 free (50.10)
- Veronica Burchill, Carmel Swim Club, 100 fly (59.69)
- Heidi Miller, NBAC, 100 free (56.24)
- Kylie Stewart, Dynamo Swim Club, 100 back (1:01.73)