Day 2 at the 2011 World University Games is complete, and we saw the Americans strike gold for the first, second, and third times, New Zealand continue their hot swimming, and a home-team favorite set a new meet record.
Men’s 50 fly
It didn’t take long for the Americans to get into the gold medal column on day 2 at the Universiade, with Tim Phillips of Ohio State/SwimMAC taking the men’s 50 fly in 23.51, which is a career-best time for him. In more firsts, Italy scored their first pool-medal of the meet in this race thanks to a 2nd from Paolo Facchinelli in 23.85. In 3rd was Japan’s Masayuki Kishida in 23.93 as the only other swimmer under 24-seconds.
Women’s 100 free
With Australia’s Marieke Guehrer missing out on the final, despite a very good day 1 of competition, this race seemed as though it would belong entirely to China’s Yi Tang, and that it did as she rocked her way to an easy victory in 54.24. That’s a new meet record, breaking the old mark set by Hannah Wilson of Hong Kong/Cal at 54.35 in 2009. Tang swam a very fast opening 50 (26.2) and matched it as the only swimmer to be sub-28 after the turn to take the win by over a second.
The Ukraine’s Darya Stepanyuk took 2nd in 55.32, which just missed her own National Record. Megan Romano of the United States probably wasn’t happy with her time in the finals of 55.38, but will be pleased to go home with some more individual hardware. Amongst other American college swimmeres, Kate Dwelley of Stanford finished 5th in 55.61, and Indiana’s Margaux Farrell took 7th in 55.85. New Zealand’s Natasha Hind had a great closing 50, but put herself in too much of a hole to finish any higher than 6th (55.77).
Men’ 800 free
The Americans marked their second gold medal of the session on the board when Michael Klueh won the men’s 800 in 7:52.31 in a timed final. Experience won out in this race, as it often does in distance swims, as Klueh was the oldest competitor to finish in the top 12 at 24. That’s the fastest time of his career, which is even more impressive considering that he had never broken 8-minutes prior to 2011, and places him 11th in the world.
In 2nd was the next in the great Italian distance tradition: Rocco Potenza in 7:53.45. Potenza was actually in gold medal position headed into the last turn., and though Klueh wasn’t awesome on his finish, Potenza was downright bad. No swimmer in the top 8 was slower over the last 50 meters, and luckily for Potenza he had built up enough of a lead ahead of Japan’s Yohuske Miyamoto (7:56.29) to at least hold on for silver. He was a spot behind Klueh in the race, and that also leaves him a spot behind Klueh (12th) in the World Rankings.
Almost taking bronze away from Miyamoto was a hard-charging Heerden Herman from South Africa. He had the best closing kick of the field, but ran out of real estate to touch 4th in 7:56.39. This sets up for a great 1500m final, where Miyamoto is likely to fall off of the pace but the other three top finishers actually get better.
Women’s 200 IM
This women’s 200 IM was an American-less final, but in true Japanese fashion, Izumi Kato used a massive breaststroke leg split of 37.19 (two-seconds faster than anyone else in the field) to blow by her competition for the win. So big was that swim, that only one swimmer at the World Championships was better, and that was the USA’s Caitlin Leverenz, who is the best-breaststroking-IM’er in the world. Kato has huge hands, and if she can build her upper-body strength just a little bt more to improve on the front-half of this IM, she could be very good. Her winning time was 2:13.52.
The Asian countries swept the top-4 spots in this race. South Korea’s Hye Ra Choi took 2nd in 2:14.71. That was off of her season best from Worlds, though she was probably looking for better as one of the standard-bearers for South Korean women’s swimming. In 3rd was China’s Jing Liu in 2:14.39. Liu is the Chinese swimmer who recently received a warning after testing positive for prednisone at Chinese Nationals. No word of any of her competitors giving her a thumbs-down after the race.
And finishing out the Asian domination was Tomoyo Fukuda in 2:14.78.
Women’s 400 free
The race that we expected to be one of the races of the night in our day 2 preview proved to be nothing less between New Zealand’s Lauren Boyle and Spain’s Melania Costa-Schmid. Both had good swims the day before in the 800, but in moving down to their more-favored 400, the pair was each hoping for gold.
Costa-Schmid held the lead for about the first 290 meters, but a great kick headed into the 6th turn (of 7) by Boyle put her just a tenth ahead. The New Zealander was able to stretch that lead a bit over the next 75-meters. Costa-Schmid wasn’t done fighting though, and dug in on the last 50 to try and catch Boyle. At the touch, though, Boyle was able to hold on over her Spanish counterpart by a margin of 4:07.78-4:07.97. Both swimmers were faster in Shanghai, but the crowd was pleased with the exciting battle.
Third-place went to American/North Carolina Tarheel Stephanie Peacock, who made a big statement at the NCAA level last year as a freshman with the 6th-best 500 time in the country. Her mark was a 4:10.25, which just scrapes under her old personal-best and the UNC long-course school record. Peacock was followed by USA teammate Alyssa Anderson of Arizona in 4:10.49. She was about a second faster at Nationals last week.
As notable in 6th place was former Towson (MD) star Meredith Budner, who now competes for Israel internationally as we outlined here. She touched in 4:14.96, which is just off of her best time from the Santa Clara Grand Prix in June. She was one of the best in the US last year in short course, but she’s still got a lot of work to do in long course. If there were a fair-comparison between short course and long course, her times would have been around a 4:10, based on what we saw from some of her NCAA competitors.
Men’s 100 backstroke
New Zealand continued to be absolutely on fire, as Gareth Kean took a win in the men’s 100 backstroke in 54.71. That’s off of his National Record done at Worlds, but was still good enough to give New Zealand their 4th gold medal of the meet, and maintain their lead in the medal standings through day 2.
Juan Rando-Galvez of Spain took 2nd in 54.94, followed by a tie for 3rd between another New Zealander (Kurt Bassett) and Italy’s Sebastiano Ranfagni in 55.21.
Neither American (Cory Chitwood or Rex Tullius) made the final in this race.
Men’s 400 free relay
Brazil’s Nicolas Oliveira had easily the best swim of the entire field (with an cnhor of 48.08), but it was the depth and balance of the Americns that carried them to a wire-to-wire win in 3:15.84.
After a great leadoff by National Runner-up Jimmy Feigen of Texas (49.27), the rest of the American relay doesn’t really jump out at you as a great one. Tim Phillips (48.96), Kohlton Norys (48.73), and Bobby Savulich (48.88) put together three solid ending legs though to finish things off and give the Americans their 3rd-straight Universiade title in this relay. Out of the 4, I think that Norys and Feigen will be the two fighting to take away a relay swim from Dave Walters and Jason Lezak at the 2012 Olympic Trials, though old-man Davis Tarwater could be a big surprise and upset the whole bunch.
Besides Oliveira’s anchor, Brazil also had a very good swim from Auburn sophomore Marcelo Chierighini (48.86) to secure 2nd in 3:17.30. In 3rd was France in 3:18.78.
The other notable split from this final came from Italy’s Luca Leonardi. His team finished 4th here, just like his countrymates did at Worlds, but he had a very good split of 48.96. The Italian “A” relay is very young, but the emergence of another young 20-year old could give them the opportunity to rest somebody (perhaps Filipo Magnini, by far the oldest of the relay) at the Olympics. That could be just the nudge they need to get onto the medal podium at the Olympics.
As we just mentioned above, New Zealand maintained their overall lead in the medal standings with two golds on the second day. The United States, however, came on very strong with 5 more medals (3 of them gold) today. Italy and Japan, who always perform exceedingly well at this event, sit 3rd and 4th in the standings with two golds a piece.