2016 U.S. Winter Nationals: Day Two Analysis

by Robert Gibbs 0

December 01st, 2016 College, National, News

2016 U.S. WINTER NATIONALS

  • Live Results
  • Wed. Nov 30 – Sat. Dec 3, 2016
  • Georgia Tech McAuley Aquatic Center, Atlanta, GA
  • 25 yard course
  • Live Stream

Tom Shields Looking Primed for the 50 Fly at Worlds

Olympian Tom Shields swam a personal best by over seven-tenths of a second this morning in the 50 free.  This evening, however, Shields elected to use his spot in lane four to swim butterfly, presumably to see where he is headed into next week’s short course world championships, where is he slated to swim the 50 fly.  Shields looked a bit slow off the blocks and registered a .80 reaction time, yet still managed to swim 20.10.  While USA Swimming does not officially track best times in the yards versions of non-free 50s, that has to be one of the best ever.  Our Speedo Time Converter puts that at a 22.30 in SCM, a time that would have earned a bronze medal at 2014 worlds, where Shields finished 5th in 22.57.  One thing to note, from the quick shot on the blocks, Shields did appear to be shaved tonight.

Still Lacking a Bit in Star Power…

Shields is one of only five Team USA Olympians who were slated to swim at this year’s Winter Nationals, and Caeleb Dressel will not be competing after all.  Last year’s meet was headlined by Olympians including Michael Phelps, although that meet was in LCM format, since it was an Olympic year.  The 2014 edition featured Olympic gold medalists Katie Ledecky and Nathan Adrian as event winners, among others.  The 2012 version of this event featured a small constellation of Olympic stars: three members of the USA Olympic team swam in the A final of the men’s 50 free alone, plus many in other events.

With several other big invites, final exams for NCAA swimmers, and short course worlds coming up, it’s quite understandable that many of the biggest names in American swimming aren’t at the meet, but it’s still not quite the same as when Ryan Lochte was blasting American Records.  Having said all that…

…But Times Not Too Far Off From Previous Years

Of the eight events competed tonight, the winning times in three events were faster than those in 2014, and all three were won by 2016 Olympic swimmers: the men’s 500 Free (Marwan El Kamash of Indiana/Egypt), the women’s 200 IM (Melanie Margalis), and the women’s 50 Free (Amanda Weir).  The two relays were fairly close in time to the marks from two years ago, while the two events that were really slower were won by Ledecky (women’s 500 free) and Adrian (men’s 50 free) in 2014.

2014 2016
Women’s 500 Free 4:29.54 4:39:33
Men’s 500 Free 4:13.72 4:13.44
Women’s 200 IM 1:54.20 1:53.16
Men’s 200 IM 1:42.80 1:43.57
Women’s 50 Free 22.12 21.81
Men’s 50 Free 18.81 19.67
Women’s 400 MR 3:33.91 3:34.15
Men’s 400 MR 3:08.52 3:09.51

Did a Future NCAA Men’s 500 Free Champion Swim Tonight?

Fun fact: the last two men’s NCAA 500 free championships both swam in the A final of this event at this meet while they were still in high school.  Clark Smith swam in the A final of this event in 2012, back when we still had him pegged as a butterflier, not a future American Record holder in the 1000 yard freestyle.  In 2014, Townley Haas broke Michael Phelps’s 15-16 NAG while placing 2nd behind Connor Jaeger.

There were two high school seniors in the A final tonight: Nitro’s Sean Grieshop and NCAP’s Sam Pomajevich.  Grieshop, a Cal commit, is the junior world record holder in the 400 IM LCM, and has a personal best of 4:15.53 in this event, which is already enough to get him into the B final of this event at NCAA’s.  Pomajevich seems to be more of a butterfly specialist, but did swim a PR in the 500 free this morning, and he is heading to Texas, home of those last two NCAA champions, Smith and Haas.

Of course, tonight’s winner is a current NCAA swimmer, Indiana’s El Kamash, whose 4:13.44 was a school record.  However, his time would have placed 5th at the Texas Hall of Fame Invite in Austin, where Smith and three Stanford swimmers (Grant Shoults, True Sweetser, and Liam Egan) all recorded NCAA “A” cuts.

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