Day 1’s finals session is underway in Knoxville, Tennessee on the University of Tennessee campus at the 2013 USA Swimming Winter National Championships.
This meet, which follows the standard three-day NCAA Championship format, will feature finals in the 200 free relays, the 500 free, the 200 IM, the 50 free, and the 400 medley relay on day 1.
Women’s 200 Free Relay
SwimMAC’s A relay of four post-graduate, professional swimmers won the national title in the 400 free relay, combining for a 1:27.19 – more than a two second improvement even off of their already-impressive prelims swim, and breaking the old Meet Record, set last year by Arizona, by a second-and-a-half.
The winning team was Madison Kennedy (21.88), Kelsi Hall (21.72), Katie Meili (22.04), and Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace (21.55). Impressive that the only swimmer over 22 seconds was Meili, who is primarily a breaststroker/IM’er.
The Cal women took 2nd, also under the old Meet Record, in 1:28.44. Cal once again split their relays, though it’s not clear it was on purpose this time, and both still got faster, and they still moved to the 3rd-best time in the country. The faster of the two featured Missy Franklin (22.16), Rachel Bootsma (21.97), Cindy Tran (22.09), and Liz Pelton (22.22). The B was Kristen Vredeveld (23.01), Farida Osman (22.23), Rachael Acker (22.35), and Kaylin Bing (21.96). If Bing had anchored the A-relay, Cal would’ve knocked another three-tenths off of that time.
Michigan took 4th in 1:30.47; that’s a bit slower than prelims, but they got a new 22.25 split from Alex DeLoof on the 2nd leg, which is impressive.
Louisville was 5th in 1:31.06, and Indiana took 6th in 1:31.10.
The NCAP girls, who broke a National Age Group Record in prelims, were slower in finals with a 1:31.44. Their leadoff, Janet Hu, swam a 22.10, with Katie Ledecky splitting 22.43 on the 2nd leg.
Men’s 200 Free Relay
SwimMAC once again won, though they used one ‘amateur,’ Tim Phillips, in their relay en route to a Meet Record of their own in 1:17.06. That broke their own record from prelims (1:17.51), and the top three teams were tied-or-better with USC’s old record from 2010 of 1:17.90.
SwimMAC’s relay was Phillips (19.94), Dax Hill (19.32), Eric Knight (19.25), and Cullen Jones, who really turned up the heat in finals to split 18.55.
Cal’s A-relay, that includes JuCo transfer Henry Chung, was a 1:17.78 for an NCAA Automatic Qualifying Time. Freshman Ryan Murphy led off in 19.81, and Tyler Messerschmidt was an 18.99 on the second leg. Including a Seth Stubblefield 19.29 second anchor, Chung’s 19.69 split was Cal’s slowest from block-to-wall. That’s a great position for the Golden Bears to be in in December, though they’re still a ways behind Auburn for the country’s top relay this season (half-a-second).
Louisville took 3rd in 1:17.90. They switched the order of their first two swimmers, and got a much better result than in prelims. Joao de Lucca was a 19.46 on the leadoff leg, and Caryle Blondell, as we implored he needed to do after prelims, was way better, splitting 19.26 on the second leg (and not with a great reaction time either – just .39).
Michigan was 3rd in 1:19.07 – their sprint freestyles are the hardest hit by graduation this season, though they still can get faster – Michael Wynalda had their fastest split of 19.11, but was on the B relay.
Tennessee took 5th in 1:19.12.
Women’s 500 Free
15-year-old Shroeder YMCA swimmer Cassandra Jernberg kicked off the individual events with a huge swim, winning the C Final in 4:44.75. That’s a lifetime best by about a second and a half for the high school sophomore, and a 7-second drop from prelims.
The B final was also significantly faster than prelims, punctuated by a tight race between Arizona State’s Tristin Baxter and Cal’s Catherine Breed. Both were three seconds faster than they’re prelims swims, with Baxter winning in 4:41.08 over Breed’s 4:41.99.
Finally came the championship final, where U.S. national teamers Katie Ledecky and Missy Franklin came in with the top two seeds. Ledecky took off early and built a big lead, running very near American record pace in the early goings. She ultimately missed the record, but her time of 4:32.37 was the second-best swim of her still-young career and beat a very strong field by over 2 seconds.
Franklin was a strong second, hitting the fastest time in the NCAA so far this season by a full second: 4:34.63. If there was any doubt whether Franklin would or should swim the event at NCAAs for the Golden Bears, this swim should pretty well erase it – her time would have won the NCAA title last year and is only about two seconds off the NCAA record. With so many talented swimmers on the Bears roster, it’s making more and more sense to use Franklin in the 500 to help really round out a balanced NCAA team.
Chloe Sutton was the only other swimmer under 4:40 – she went 4:39.63. Indiana’s Lindsey Vrooman was fourth and Cal’s Melanie Klaren fifth.
Men’s 500 Free
Connor Jaeger held onto his top seed, surviving an early challenge from post-grad training partner Michael Klueh. Jaeger was 4:14.05, a drop of one second from prelims to help him leapfrog Florida’s Andrea D’Arrigo for the top time in the NCAA this season. Klueh finished second in 4:14.43 and another Michigan Wolverine, Anders Nielsen, snuck into third (4:15.49) ahead of Cal’s Jeremy Bagshaw (4:16.15)
Michigan seems to be collectively showing up for finals, as nearly all of its 500 freestylers dropped significant time from their morning swims. One notable drop was Hassan Abdel Khalik, who won the C final in 4:22.38 after going 4:25 in prelims. Former Wolverine Ryan Feeley (who now swims for Badger Swim Club) was 9th overall in 4:19.15 after winning the consols.
Women’s 200 IM
A strong 200 IM field turned into a showdown between Cal teammates Liz Pelton and Celina Li in the middle two lanes and Jamaican Alia Atkinson from all the way out in lane 8. Li took over during the backstroke leg, and tried to close the door on breaststroke, but Pelton seemed to just hang around the entire way before swimming by Li over the final 50 yards. Pelton emerged the winner in 1:54.15 with Li right behind in 1:54.25. Those are the 3rd and 4th fastest times in the NCAA this season.
Atkinson provided some outside smoke to add just a little more drama to the moment – she exploded from the middle of the field on the breaststroke leg, splitting 32.1 to push the lead pair and was nipping at their heels with 50 yards to go. She didn’t have enough to overcome Pelton’s fast 26.8 free split, but she did still finish a very close third in 1:54.37.
16-year-old Kathleen Baker of SwimMAC was fourth in 1:56.38, separated from the lead trio only by her breaststroke split. Her teammate, post-grad Katie Meili took fifth in a close race with Stanford commit Janet Hu, who was sixth and Caitlin Leverenz t0ok seventh.
Justine Mueller and Marni Oldershaw were both fast in the consols, going 1:57s and taking 9th and 10th, respectively. In the C Final, Indiana’s Bronwyn Pasloski broke 2:00 for the first time in her career, winning the heat in 1:59.85 after going 2:01 in prelims.
Men’s 200 IM
Darian Townsend took the lead in the men’s 200 IM from the get-go and never looked back. The New York Athletic Club swimmer went 1:41.88, posting the fastest splits in every stroke but breaststroke. Following him was 17-year-old Andrew Seliskar, who chopped another three-tenths off his time and inched closer to David Nolan’s National Age Group record in the event. Seliskar was 1:43.22, coming back on the freestyle leg to pass Michigan’s Dylan Bosch, who took third in 1:43.47. Josh Prenot took fourth, Kyle Whitaker 5th, both going 1:44s, and 18-year-0ld Matthew Josa was sixth.
Ryan Murphy won the B final for Cal in 1:45.75 over Indiana’s Cody Miller, who was 1:45.95. Cal’s Jacob Pebley rebounded after a disappointing prelims swim, going 1:46.96 to win the C final.
Women’s 50 Free
New full-time freestyler Natalie Coughlin powered away from the field in the women’s 50, going 21.51 en route to 1st place. At 31-years old, Coughlin beat a very veteran-dominated field – SwimAtlanta pro Amanda Weir was second in 21.62 and SwimMAC’s Madison Kennedy took third, going 21.69. But the youngest swimmer in the field was Janet Hu, who returned from her 200 IM swim earlier tonight to take 4th and break the National Age Group record she tied for this morning. Hu went 21.82 after posting a 21.89 this morning. Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace was the last swimmer sub-22. She went 21.91 for fifth place.
California swimmers had the distinction of winning all three heats of the event: Kaylin Bing and Farida Osman tied in the consolation finals at 22.55 and Cindy Tran won the bonus final, going 22.81.
Men’s 50 Free
This weekend, the “Fastest Man in Texas” was also the fastest man in Tennessee. Nathan Adrian took the national title in the 50 free, going 18.89, just a tenth off the time he went to win the Fastest Man in Texas shootout a month ago. New York Athletic Club’s Josh Schneider was second in 19.07, almost cracking the 19-barrier. Following Schneider was Adam Brown (19.13) and Matt Grevers was fourth (19.24). The look of the race changed early on when the 2-seed, Karl Krug, appeared to slip off the blocks. Krug was clearly behind the field from the get-go, but he did battle back to take 5th overall in 19.45.
Having lost a swim-off earlier today for 8th place, Cullen Jones came back at finals to take advantage of an inside lane and clean water to blow away the consol field with a 19.37. Seth Stubblefield went 19.90 to win the C for Cal.
Women’s 400 Medley Relay
California posted the top time in the NCAA so far in winning the 400 medley relay. The team of Liz Pelton, Marina Garcia, Rachel Bootsma and Missy Franklin went 3:29.91 to become the first team in the NCAA under 3:30 this year. In addition, the women broke the meet record of 3:31.16 held by Arizona from last season. Pelton was 51.27 leading off, the second-fastest NCAA time we’ve seen this year, Bootsma was an outstanding 51.5 on butterfly and Franklin came home in 47.5.
But it gets better for Cal. SwimMAC finished second overall, but disqualified for a false start, meaning Cal’s B team took second place with a time of 3:33.36. The two Cal relays were almost identical on the opening and closing legs – Cindy Tran lead off in 51.34 and Rachael Acker nearly kept pace with Franklin, anchoring in 47.9.
Indiana took third, thanks in part to a big 52.67 backstroke split from Brooklyn Snodgrass. Their time was 3:34.13, giving the Hoosiers their first relay NCAA “A” cut of the year.
Tennessee took fourth in 3:35.07, and the Vols got a heroic breaststroke leg from rising star Molly Hannis, who went 58.9, the fastest in the field. Lindsay Gendron was also 47.6 bringing Tennessee home on freestyle.
Michigan was fifth in 3:35.28, getting a strong leadoff leg of 53.06 from Alexandra DeLoof.
The girls from NCAP broke their second National Age Group relay record of the day, going 3:36.99 to break the old record of 3:37.93 held by SwimMAC. The relay was made up of Janet Hu, Schuyler Bailar, Kylie Jordan and Katie Ledecky, and was led by blazing splits on both ends of the relay – Hu went 52.53 on the leadoff backstroke leg and Ledecky was 48.04 on her anchor leg.
Men’s 400 Medley Relay
SwimMAC’s men took their second relay of the night, winning the 400 medley from heat 1, putting up a time of 3:06.57 that none of teh top-seeded teams could match. The relay was made up of Nick Thoman, Dax Hill, Tim Phillips, and Cullen Jones. Thoman was the star of the field, leading off in 44.56, just one one-hundredth off of Matt Grevers’ American Record. Hill swam breaststroke as he did on occasion at Texas, splitting 53.1.
Louisville won a tight race with Michigan in the final heat to take second place overall. Louisville was 3:07.32; that’s the fastest time in the NCAA by a good two seconds. The Cardinals got their biggest splits from breaststroker Kameron Chastain, who was the fastest of the field in 51.93, and anchor Joao de Lucca, who was 41.90.
The Wolverines took third place in 3:08.30, unable to match de Lucca on the anchor leg. Michigan also appeared to be missing the presence of Miguel Ortiz’s versatility – without Ortiz leading off, the Wolverines could only muster a 47.53 backstroke leg by dropping butterflyer John Wojciechowski into the race, and by the time the relays hit 100 yards, the Wolverines were facing a daunting deficit they never recovered from. Despite great splits from Richard Funk (51.03 breast) and Dylan Bosch (46.19 fly), Michigan never retook the lead from Louisville. On the bright side, though, that time does rank Michigan second in the NCAA this year.
New York Athletic Club finished fourth, with Adam Brown anchoring in an eye-popping 41.30. The relay also got a great leadoff from Arkady Vyatchanin (45.80) and Josh Schneider jumped into the butterfly, going a strong 46.45.
California took fifth, getting a season-best 46.6 backstroke from Ryan Murphy but only a 53.6 from breaststroker Josh Prenot.