2016 U.S. Winter Nationals Day 4 Live Recap

by Robert Gibbs 5

December 03rd, 2016 National, News, Previews & Recaps


The 2016 USA Swimming Winter National Championships will wrap up tonight.  The finals sessions will kick off at 4:50pm with the fastest heats of the 1650, where OSU’s Lindsay Clary and Florida’s Ben Lawless will be swimming in lane 4 in their respective races.  Next up will be the 200 back; the fastest times from this morning belong to Bridgette Alexander (Kentucky) and the veteran international swimmer Arkady Vyatchanin.

Olympian Amanda Weir scratched out of the 100 free final, leaving 16 year-old Isabel Ivey, who’s been having a great meet, as the top seed.  Jacob Molacek will have lane 4 in the A final of the men’s 100 free, but watch out for Florida freshman Maxime Rooney.  He  swam the 200 back this morning, and missed out on the A final in the 100 free, but will be swimming out of lane 4 in the B final, and won’t have the 200 back beforehand tonight.

The 200 breast will both feature a prior and current American Record holders: Breeja Larson and Kevin Cordes.  (Melanie Margalis elected not to compete this evening despite making the A final in the 200 back and this event).  The last individual race is the 200 fly, where the top seeds are 25 year-old professional swimmer Hannah Saiz and Indiana sophomore Vini Lanza.

Women’s 1650 Free (Fastest Heat)

  1. Brooke Zeiger, Minnesota, 15:44.00
  2. Erica Sullivan, Sandpipers, 15:47.39
  3. Lindsey Clary, Ohio State, 15:57.03

It seems like something was in the pool tonight, as all three top finishers swam a personal best to open up tonight’s final session.  Last year as a sophomore, Minnesota’s Brooke Zieger took 8th place in this event at the NCAA championships, in a time of 16:00.64.  Tonight, she lopped over 16 seconds off that time to win in 15:44.00, a time which would have placed her 3rd at last year’s NCAA championships.

16 year-old Erica Sullivan went out hard, building an almost two second lead by the 200 mark, and continued to hold the lead 900 yards into the race.  Eventually Zeiger overtook her, but Sullivan continued to push to a 15:47.39, which jumps her from 13th to 5th all time in 15-16 group, and her puts her ahead of the legendary Janet Evans, among others.

Lindsey Clary of Ohio State, last year’s 6th place finisher at NCAA’s, also took over three seconds off her previous best mark tonight, touching 3rd in 15:57.03.

Men’s 1650 Free (Fastest Heat)

  1. Marwan el Kamash, 14:48.34
  2. Ben Lawless, Florida, 14:58.83
  3. Blake Manganiello, Florida, 15:02.06

Florida’s Ben Lawless won the fastest heat, but Indiana’s Markam el Kamash‘s time from earlier in the day stood as the fastest time overall, a 14:48.34 mark.  That’s a personal best for El Kamash, and he won his second national championhip of the meet after taking the 500 free on Thursday night.  Lawless finished 2nd overall in 14:58.83, about ten seconds off his personal from his 9th place finish at the 2016 NCAA championship.  His fellow Gator Blake Manganiello took 3rd in 15:02.

Women’s 200 Back Final

  1. Bridgette Alexander, Kentucky, 1:52.38
  2. Hannah Moore, NC State, 1:53.51
  3. Kristen Romano, NYAC, 1:53.98

Last year, Kentucky’s Danielle Galyer won a NCAA title in this event, but she was the only Kentucky swimmer to make either final.  Freshman Asia Seidt has already put up some great times this season and looks likely to make sure that won’t be the case again this next March, and this week, Bridgette Alexander looks like she’s heading in the right direction to join her teammates.  She won the 100 back final last night, and tonight she swam a personal best time of 1:52.38, which last season would have been enough to just sneak into the B final at NCAA’s.

NC State’s Hannah Moore had the fastest split of the final 50 to secure her 2nd place finish tonight, while 17 year-old Kristen Romano swam a very solid race throughout to take 3rd in 1:53.98.

Men’s 200 Back Final

  1. Arkady Vyatchanin, NYAC, 1:40.12
  2. Omar Pinzon, FAST, 1:41.27
  3. Bob Glover, Indiana, 1:41.96

This week we’ve seen a lot of college swimmers or American veterans at the top of the podiums, but this race was a battle of international pros.  Four-time Columbian Olympian Omar Pinzon was out first at the 50, but veteran Arkady Vyatchanin reeled him in during the third 50, and took the victory in 1:40.12.  Although Vyatchanin said in the post-race interview that this was the meet he was focused on, he was sporting a beard, so clearly he could be faster, and swim fans are looking forward to seeing what he can do internationally in long course again once he gets his citizenship issues resolved.  Pinzon held on for 2nd in 1:41.27.  Third went to Indiana’s Bob Glover in 1:41.96.

Women’s 100 Free Final

  1. Isabel Ivey, Gator Swim Club, 48.33
  2. Sarah Hitchens, North Carolina, 48.74
  3. Caroline Baldwin, North Carolina, 48.86

16 year-old Isabel Ivey has been having a breakout meet this week, and tonight she claimed her first national championship.  Ivey used some great underwaters to go from 3rd to 1st in the back half of the race, touching in 48.33.  That’s just a little off her time from this morning, which put her 5th all time in the 15-16 age group, but is still a great time at the end of a lot of racing this meet.  A pair of Tar Heels, Sarah Hitchens and Caroline Baldwin, came in after Ivey, finishing in 48.74 and 48.86, respectively.

Men’s 100 Free Final

  1. Bowen Becker, Minnesota, 42.87
  2. Anze Tavcar, Indiana, 43.12
  3. Jacob Molacek, Greater Omaha Aquatics, 43.14

Minnesota’s Bowen Becker picked up second national championship this week with some outside smoke.  Becker was neck and neck with Indiana’s Anze Tavcar and Jacob Molacek (Greater Omaha Aquatics) for most of the race, but took advantage of the final few strokes to win in 42.87.  That’s substantially faster than he swam at the NCAA championships in March, and puts him within striking range of the B final this year.  Tavcar was only 0.02 seconds ahead of Molacek halfway through, and they had exactly the same split on the second 50, so Tavcar took 2nd, 43.12 to 43.14

Women’s 200 Breast Final

  1. Breeja Larson, NYAC, 2:06.42
  2. Miranda Tucker, Club Wolverine, 2:07.44
  3. Nikol Popov, Canyons Aquatic Club, 2:09.33

A day after getting upset by Melanie Margalis in the 100 breast, Breeja Larson picked up a national championship of her own by winning the longer event in 2:06.  Larson looked very smooth as she went out in just over a minute, and then seemed to be struggling a bit in the last 12 yards as Miranda Tucker looked to be gaining some ground.  But, Larson held on over the final few strokes, and Tucker ended up finishing over a second behind, in 2:07.44.  3rd place went to Nikol Popov in 2:09.33

Men’s 200 Breast Final

  1. Kevin Cordes, Unattached, 1:53.51
  2. Nick Zito, West Illinois, 1:54.67
  3. Conner McHugh, Minnesota, 1:54.85

Kevin Cordes also earned his second national title of the meet.  He was 0.01 behind Nick Tito after the first 50, but established a solid lead by the halfway point.  Cordes had the fastest splits of each the last three 50s, including being the only competitor to split under 30 in the final 50, and won in 1:53.51.  Zito maintained 2nd the rest of the race, touching in 1:54.67, less than two-tenths of a second ahead of Conner McHugh (1:54.85).

Women’s 200 Fly Final

  1. Hannah Saiz, Schroeder YMCA, 1:55.73
  2. Meg Bailey, Ohio State, 1:56.10
  3. Caty Hulsey, North Carolina, 1:56.45

25 year-old Hannah Saiz is one of the more interesting professional American swimmers, if somewhat unsung. Tonight she earned her victory in this event by moving from 4th at the halfway point on the strength of a 29.43 split on her third 50.  She held off Ohio State’s Meg Bailey, who split a 29.67 in the final 50, to win 1:55:73 to 1:56.10.  UNC’s Caty Hulsey picked up a 3rd place finish in 1:56.45.

Men’s 200 Fly Final

  1. Vini Lanza, Indiana, 1:41.34
  2. Sam Pomajevich, NCAP, 1:44.03
  3. Sean Lee, Swim Pasadena, 1:45:57

While we haven’t emphasized this fact, one thing we’ve noticed is that the times from NCAA swimmers at this meet by and large have not stacked up that well against the times we’ve seen at the major invites.  This changed in a big way tonight in this event, as Indiana’s Vini Lanza smoked the field in 1:41.34, a time that looks like the fastest in the NCAA this season at the moment (although Jack Conger is moments away from racing at the Texas Invite, which was the fastest time in the NCAA for about 10 minutes before Jack Conger went 1:40.24 at the Texas Invite.  Still, that’s a  personal best for Lanza, who finished 11th in this event at NCAA’s last year.

Texas commit Sam Pomajevich went 1:44.03 to drop six-tenths off his personal best.  That’s only about half a second what it took to make NCAA’s in this event last year, and surely Eddie Reese is looking forward to having Pomajevich help replace the aforementioned Conger next year.  Another high school senior, Sean Lee, took 3rd in 1:45:57, also a personal best.  Lee will head to the University of Pennsylvania next season, and should make an immediate impact for the Quakers.

Women’s 4×100 Free Relay

Men’s 4×100 Free Relay

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phelps swims 200 breast rio
6 years ago

Ledecky would have placed 5th in the men’s 1650.

bobo gigi
6 years ago

West in College Station, Texas. Most of my favorite US juniors swim in the East meet but there are some big names to watch too.

Swimmers to watch in my opinion:
Gabrielle Kopenski, distance girl
Regan Smith of course (will respond to Alex Walsh on backstroke, the rivalry continues, unfortunately not in the same pool)
Eva Merrell, 100 fly/100 back/200 back. I thought fly was her future but she’s stronger and stronger on backstroke.
Darya Pyshnenko, sprint talent. First time I will watch her swim.
Ryan Hoffer, the bathtub king in the junior ranks will be alone in the water and will try to break… Read more »

bobo gigi
6 years ago

Talking about US junior championships next week, here are the psych sheets.
Unfortunately for the swim fans the meet is since last year divided in 2 parts. Probably better in terms of travel for the clubs but not good for swim fans who prefer watching the best swimmers swim against each other. And not easy to watch 2 meets at the same time. 🙂

East in Columbus, Ohio. Most of my favorite US juniors swims there.

Swimmers to watch in my opinion:
Morgan Tankersley (mid-distance freestyler, big progression this season)
Robert Freeman
Drew Kibler (big 100 free/200 free prospect)
Alex Walsh (pretty good at college… Read more »

bobo gigi
Reply to  bobo gigi
6 years ago

I forgot Allie Raab on breaststroke.

bobo gigi
6 years ago

Overall a pretty pale meet for a meet like US short course nationals but with around 90% of the best US senior and junior swimmers absent it couldn’t be different.

At least we have seen the revelation of Jack Dolan and Isabel Ivey who take date for the future. Looks like Dolan was exhausted after a long meet and a lot of swims. 44.08 in the 100 free final. You must be the freshest possible to shine on sprint. Still a great meet for him. 19.86/43.61 at 15, that’s quite impressive. Still early but as a swimmer from Oregon I presume he has Cal in his mind as a future NCAA destination. If my American geography is correct, Cal is… Read more »

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