U.S. Winter Nationals open tonight in Greensboro, North Carolina with a pair of relay events on tap.
It should be an explosive week, with a great field assembled and multiple American and U.S. Open records on the chopping block. Stay tuned to SwimSwam.com for event recaps in real-time, starting tonight – refresh this page as we’ll be updating each relay as it happens.
Tonight begins with timed finals of the 200 medley relays for men and women and the 800 free relays in each gender as well.
2014 U.S. Winter Nationals
- Full meet preview
- Greensboro, NC
- Dec. 3-6, 2014 (Wednesday through Saturday)
- Prelims 9am/Finals 5pm – Wednesday timed finals 6pm (Eastern Time)
- Psych sheets
- Live stream
- Live results
Women’s 200 Medley Relay
- American record: 1:34.24 – California, 2012
- U.S. Open record: 1:34.24 – California, 2012
- NCAA “A” cut: 1:37.84
Michigan, UCLA and Louisville engaged in a back and forth early from the middle of the pool, with the Wolverines nabbing first-leg lead on Ali DeLoof‘s 24.70 backstroke split. UCLA’s Katie Kinnear was second. Things tightened up over the breaststroke leg, but Kelsi Worrell powered the Cardinals into a commanding lead with a lightning-quick 22.57 butterfly split and a huge kickout off the second wall. That split would have been the fastest of the entire field at last year’s NCAA Championships.
The field closed in on the anchor leg, but Louisville had enough to hang on for the win, going 1:38.06, a time that ranks 4th in the NCAA so far this year. That relay was composed of Hannah Magnuson, Andee Cottrell, Worrell and Alex Sellers. UCLA’s Linnea Mack split 21.81 and overtook Michigan for second in 1:38.65, which will also place the Bruins inside the top 10 in the nation this year.
SwimMAC Carolina was the top club program, taking third in 1:38.77, and Michigan took third in 1:38.80, yet another NCAA top-10 time.
Men’s 200 Medley Relay
- American record: 1:22.83 – California, 2014
- U.S. Open record: 1:22.27 – Michigan, 2013
- NCAA “A” cut: 1:25.63
The men’s medley relay saw a team from the slowest-seeded heat rise to the national championship. That was the squad of pros from Club Wolverine, who waited until the final heat of action to drop a 1:23.86 that is just a little more than a second off of the U.S. Open record held by Michigan’s college program.
On that Wolverine relay was Japanese backstroker Junya Koga (20.35), U.S. National Teamer Zach Hayden (23.66), Hong Kong butterflyer Geoff Cheah (20.52) and Canadian freestyle specialist Hassan Abdel-Khalik (19.33). That’s an absolutely blazing split for Koga, who’s well-known as one of the world’s best pure sprint backstrokers. Koga was also allowed to use the new backstroke starting wedge legalized by FINA, and that split suggests he liked its effect.
The top-seeded heat saw a great battle for what turned out to be second place overall. Things were tight early with Louisville’s Grigory Tarasevich going 21.89 to just barely lead over the 21.98 from Michigan’s Peter Brumm. The Cardinals got a huge 23.43 breaststroke leg from Thomas Dahlia to extend the lead, though Michigan had their excellent Canadian breaststroker Richard Funk go 23.67.
Louisville broke away on Pedro Coutinho‘s 20.60 butterfly split, though, and Carlyle Blondell was 19.44 to help the team go 1:25.36, the fastest time in the NCAA so far this season and an NCAA Qualifying Standard that will allow Louisville to contest all 5 relays at the NCAA Championships.
That’s provided, of course, that these times are deemed NCAA legal by the NCAA designated official on deck. Club and pro swimmers are allowed to use the backstroke starting wedges and the new breaststroke pullout rules, but the NCAA won’t change its rules mid-season, so an official is on deck to judge whether college programs put up times that are NCAA legal.
Michigan wound up third, getting a 19.22 anchor split from Bruno Ortiz to go 1:26.30. Their Big Ten rival Ohio State was just behind, going 1:26.42 and getting a fantastic 18.69 from Josh Fleagle on the end.
Women’s 800 Free Relay
- American record: 6:52.64 – Georgia, 2013
- U.S. Open record: 6:52.64 – Georgia, 2013
- NCAA “A” cut: 7:07.20
Indiana became the 6th women’s team in the NCAA to hit a relay “A” cut (technically called a “Qualifying Standard”) by winning the Winter National title in the 800 free relay. The Hoosiers did it by jumping out to a big lead on Haley Lips’ 1:45.42 split, and kept rolling with Cynthia Pammett (1:47.38), freshman Kennedy Goss (1:44.53) and backstroke star Brooklynn Snodgrass (1:47.88). That team combined to go 7:05.21, which will rank them second in the nation. Coach Ray Looze has to be especially happy with that 1:44 split from the rookie Goss, who’s stepped up to become a force across all three free relay distances so far this season.
Big Ten rivals Michigan came in next, going 7:08.32 to check in at #4 in the NCAA. That team featured three freshmen and a sophomore, and got twin 1:46s from rookies Gillian Ryan (1:46.55) and Clara Smiddy (1:46.46).
Third place went to Louisville, led by a 1:45.70 from Kelsi Worrell, who swam on both relays tonight. The Cards went 7:09.45 and should sit right around 6th in the NCAA. The top club program was once again SwimMAC, which featured almost the same four legs as their medley relay. Doubling up tonight were Katie Meili, Nora McCullagh and Jessica Merritt. SwimMAC went 7:09.51.
The fastest split of the whole field, though, came from 5th-place Nation’s Capital, who featured World Record-holding distance swimmer Katie Ledecky. Perhaps a sign of a big weekend to come, Ledecky was an outstanding 1:41.23 on her leg – that would have been the second-fastest split of the entire NCAA Championships last year, behind only Missy Franklin. NCAP went 7:10.24.
Men’s 800 Free Relay
- American record: 6:10.16 – Texas, 2009
- U.S. Open record: 6:09.85 – Michigan, 2014
- NCAA “A” cut: 6:22.81
The final event of the night was a great one, with the final results featuring the 1st-, 2nd-, 4th- and 5th-ranked teams in the NCAA this season.
Despite graduating NCAA 200 free champ Joao de Lucca, Louisville still looks like a force in this relay. The Cards put up the fastest time in the nation this year at 6:22.31, their second “A” cut of the night. That came courtesy of a pair of sophomores who bookended the relay in 1:34s- Trevor Carroll led off in 1:34.77 and Matthias Lindenbauer closed the team with a 1:34.52. Also on the winning squad: Grigory Tarasevich and Ruben Izarra, who were both 1:36s.
Michigan led after three legs, but couldn’t match Lindenbauer on the anchor leg. Dylan Bosch led off in a nice 1:35.04, and Jack Mangan had the team’s fastest split at 1:34.94. The Wolverines also got a 1:35.17 from Justin Glanda, but anchor Julian Ballestas was just 1:38.16 and fell behind Louisville. Michigan was still 6:23.31, which is the second-fastest time in the NCAA this year, ahead of previous national leaders Florida.
Just behind Florida in the ranks now is the third-place finishers, Indiana. A young relay went 6:24.90, led by a 1:25.12 leadoff leg from freshman Blake Pieroni. Pieroni came up big for Indiana already this past summer on relays at Junior Nationals, and picked right up where he left off at Winter Nationals. Ohio State took fourth overall and sits 5th in the NCAA. All four Buckeyes went 1:36s in what was an ultra-consistent 6:25.21 team. Most impressive was Michael DiSalle, who led off in 1:36.22 without the aid of a relay start.
The first full day of action begins tomorrow morning, with prelims at 9am Eastern Time.