During today’s British Finals of the 2012 British Gas Olympic Trials, six Olympic roster spots were handed out.
But what really started some buzz came in the international finals later in the day.
In the women’s 100 breaststroke, there were plenty of stories that might seem like big stories. In 5th place, 16-year old Sycerika McMahon of Ireland nearly broke her lifetime best and skimmed an Irish National Record in 1:09.39. Japan’s Kanako Watanabe, who is now only 15 but last year at 14 was the international breakout breaststroke star, took 4th in 1:09.34. She was a 1:07.10 when she was 14. In 3rd was 17-year old Korean Hyejin Kim in 1:08.88, which made her the 2nd-fastest swimmer in her country’s history already.
Sweden’s Jennie Johanssen had a pair of great swims, with a time of 1:07.10 in prelims that broke the Swedish National Record. She wasn’t quite as fast, but swam the 2nd-best time of her career with a 1:07.32 in finals for 2nd.
But right around 9 PM local time, the women’s 100 breaststroke was won by Ruta Meilutyte, a Lithuanian National who trains with the British club Plymouth Leander, in 1:07.30. That’s the third-best time in the world this year, and not a shabby time at all. It’s also a Lithuanian National Record, breaking her own mark.
But here’s what’s really exciting. Meilutyte is only 14-years old.
Despite her young age, Meilutyte is one of the jewels of the Lithuanian National Team – she’s the only swimmer in history to have been under a 1:10.
If you’re looking for a comparison: in 1996, when a 14-year old Amanda Beard rocked the world en route to a silver medal at the Atlanta Olympics in the 100 breast, she only swam a 1:08.0. Meilutyte is almost a second faster than that.
She’s been tearing up the sprint breaststrokes this spring. She swept the 50 and the 100 both at the Euromeet in Luxembourg and a meet in Nancy, France in February.
Plymouth Leander hasn’t had an Olympian since Sharron Davies took silver in the 400 IM in 1980, but is still recognized as one of the better clubs in the United Kingdom. I’m sure the Brits would love to call her one of their own, but for now she plans to continue competing for Lithuania back in this pool in late July. It seems as though she thrives in this pool, and she could be dangerous. If anybody’s going to drop.