The second stop of 2015’s Arena Pro Swim Series wrapped up yesterday in Orlando, but not without some world-topping swims and impressive performances by notable athletes, on both ends of the age spectrum, from across the globe. Below we break-down the big stories coming out of the sunshine state’s competition this weekend, with some topic-related reader comments integrated within.
#1 – International Athletes Galore:
Reader Comment: “Very few Americans in finals…..I haven’t seen any events with more than 3 Americans in the final.” – FLOPPY
Yes, international swimmers certainly were prolific, and also damaging, across both women’s and men’s events throughout the meet. In fact 69% of all individual events were won by a foreign swimmer, with multiple event wins by the likes of Scot Hannah Miley (200m freestyle, 400 IM), Brazilian Joao de Lucca (100m, 200m freestyles), and Canadians Audrey Lacroix (100m, 200m butteflys) and Dominique Bouchard (100m, 200m backstrokes) boosting that figure. The men’s 200m butterfly event, for instance, had eight swimmers in the final representing a total of eight different countries – Denmark, Romania, South African, Ireland, the United States, Canada and Mexico.
#2 – Veterans in the Field:
Reader Comment: “I didn’t realize Kitajima was still swimming.” – SEAN S.
Familiar forces of the international swimming competitive community were indeed in the mix over the weekend. Viewers were treated to watching Kosuke Kitajima battle it out in both breaststroke distances, where the 32-year-old finished fifth in both the 100m and 200m breaststroke events. Lara Jackson, 28, also did her thing in the women’s 50m freestyle, where she placed eighth in a time of 26.39. Not exactly where she probably wants to be time-wise, but she made the finals and her comeback journey continues. Katie Hoff is another fan favorite who was one of the original “full program of events” swimmers now back in the water and still making finals. This weekend Hoff finished 5th across three events – 400m IM, 200m breaststroke and 200m IM – showing fans that she is still most definitely a viable threat across multiple events
#3 – Youth Rocked the Meet:
Reader Comment: “Had to look up the swimmers from Great Britain, Georgia Coates and Abbie Wood, fast young talent out of GBR.” – SWSWIMFAN
Both domestic and international youth made quite a statement over the course of the meet, where it was not uncommon to see the likes of 15- and 16-year olds stepping up on the blocks among a field of college-aged athletes and beyond. York YMCA’s Courtney Harnish, at only 15, raced her way to a whopping five A-Finals over the three-day meet, placing 3rd in the 200m butterfly, 4th in the 200m freestyle, 100m butterfly, and 800m freestyle events, and earning 7th place in the 200m backstroke. Considering Harnish was able to top veteran Caitlin Leverenz in the 200m freestyle, despite Leverenz swimming a best time, as well as being able to surpass Hannah Miley in the 200m butterfly, that is absolutely a remarkable performance for the young swimmer who is certainly on the rise.
As for the two Great Britain swimmers brought up by the reader comment, 15-year-old Georgia Coates earned some points finishing eighth in the 100m breaststroke, 7th in the 400m IM and 6th in the 200m IM. Abbie Wood, also 15, also got her name on the board with a 6th place result in the 400m IM. Young and impactful, indeed.
#4 – Beisel is a warrior:
Reader Comment – “Liz Beisel’s back!!! Great comeback swim…” – LIQUIDASSETS
Although the hint was given that her groin strain recovery was still in progress by her scratching several events, you would not know in what stage of rehab Elizabeth Beisel is in based on her heroic 400m freestyle performance. In a post-swim interview Beisel detailed her original injury, as well as her too-soon re-entry into the pool and current rehabilitation plan; But, Beisel demonstrated her “true racer” self-description by overcoming her pain and discomfort and decisively winning the women’s 400m freestyle in a time of 4:10.99, just outside the world’s top ten…..with an on-the-mend groin injury.
#5 – Cody Miller is on a Tear:
Reader Comment – “He [Miller] is doing great! Under a minute already early 2015.”
Cody Miller was simply on fire this meet, as has been his modus operandi as of late. He put on quite a performance down in Perth, Australia, winning the 100m breaststroke and just coming short to Japan’s Yasuhiro Kosuke in the 200m breaststroke to earn second, and Miller followed that up with a double win in Orlando. Miller’s 59.92 100m breast time from this meet now sits #2 in the world, just behind Great Britain’s Adam Peaty. In direct succession, Miller actually then topped the world after his 200m breaststroke swim, where his 2:10.28 surpassed the 2:10.45 mark that Kosuke clocked to win that Aquatic Super Series race. In post-race interviews, Miller seems pleased with his performances, especially for this time of year; it also gives the Americans now two extremely viable options for the medley relay breaststroke leg with Miller and Kevin Cordes.
#6 – Scratches/No-Shows are a fan’s nightmare:
Reader Comment – “The Lochte no shows are getting real old. WTF.” – HANK
Scratches and no-shows are certainly part of the swim meet game, but it doesn’t lessen the blow for adoring fans that travel miles to see their favorite swimmer. Seeing superstars Ryan Lochte and Cullen Jones, as examples, on the psych sheets only to not see their smiling faces and chiseled physiques in their element is very disappointing from an enthusiast’s perspective. Obviously, travel, injury and other life events come up, but, as reader HANK worded, “no shows are getting real old.”