Day three of the U.S. Winter Nationals is in the books. Here are 5 things we learned, and 3 things you pointed out in the comments:
1. Katie Ledecky saving her best stuff: It’s hard not to get excited when Katie Ledecky is on the psych sheet, but this week hasn’t been her typical explosiveness, at least not so far. It feels like nitpicking to say that – she’s already won two national titles and nearly won an off-event in the 200 IM – but Ledecky hasn’t quite been on her best. It’s starting to look like the 17-year-old sensation isn’t quite trained to peak at this meet – that moment will probably come at her high school championship meet in early 2015. Still, the only event she won’t swim there will be the mile, so perhaps she’ll really get after that race in an American record-chasing effort? We can dream, right?
2. Kelsi Worrell is flying: It’s been an outstanding junior season for Louisville Cardinal Kelsi Worrell. She first led the NCAA in the 100 fly after the SMU Classic, and she jumped back to the top tonight with the first 50-second 100 fly this season. Worrell was 50.91, a lifetime-best and faster than she went in taking 2nd at NCAAs last year. Even more impressive is that she’s way ahead of where she was at last year. Worrell went 51.9 last year, so if she has a similar drop come post-season, look for her to move way down into the low-50-points and contend for an NCAA title up for grabs after defending champ Felicia Lee has graduated.
3. Nathan Adrian’s 200 free adventures: He’s known as a sprinter, but Nathan Adrian is ruining it for everyone who’s tried to get out of racing 200s because they’re a sprinter. Coaches have new ammunition to refute that argument after Adrian went 1:32.83 to win the national 200 free title. It seems Adrian is swimming the race for two pretty solid reasons: (1) because it helps his endurance for the long course 100 and (2) he can make a pretty penny doing it. This race won’t come with monetary prizes, but Adrian won $1,000 for his win at the Minneapolis Grand Prix and could add to that if he can win the Pro Am event in Oklahoma in two weeks. On top of that, Adrian should head into long course season with a nice base under him, and 100 meter sprints will feel short after a 200-filled short course campaign.
4. Linnea Mack putting it together for UCLA: Stuck in a brutal Pac-12 conference with NCAA powerhouses Cal and Stanford, UCLA is starting to develop some top-level talents itself. Most impressive tonight was sophomore Linnea Mack, who placed top 3 in both the 100 fly and 100 back and put up the team’s best split on the 200 free relay, which took 2nd. Mack came within a breath of stealing the 100 back title from NCAA champion Brooklynn Snodgrass with a 51.98, and though the event is wildly unpredicatble, Mack could be an All-American there. She was third in the 100 fly (52.54) and also split 22.14 leading off the free relay, .01 faster than her national runner-up performance in the event last night.
5. Men’s 100 breaststroke is a dogfight: Though Kevin Cordes is the obvious NCAA favorite in both breaststrokes, the race just gets cloudier and cloudier behind him. Tonight’s final saw 7 men get under 53 seconds, though the winner was just 52.36. That means a lot of very tight finishes. Michigan’s Richard Funk looks good after winning the national title, and Louisville’s Thomas Dahlia is the next great Cardinal breaststroker to rise. It’s looking like it’ll take some great swimming to make the A final come the NCAA Championships.
6. No 400 IM from Katie Ledecky: Commenter EasySpeed articulates one common regret among swim fans so far this meet:
I’m bummed, wanted to see a Ledecky 400 IM
Our take: Us too, EasySpeed, us too. Ledecky is extremely versatile and has that tantalizing finish that could make her a Ye Shiwen-esque IMer. But it looks like we’ll have to wait a bit longer to see Ledecky really go after that race – she scratched the event out of prelims.
7. A few super-suit records still feel unfair: Commenter Bobo Gigi laments the crazy-fast 100 fly American record as only Bobo Gigi can:
American record still the crazy suited 44.18 by Austin Staab.
I predict that a man will walk on Mars before someone breaks that stupid record.
Our take: We just wrote about the fall of so many super-suited records earlier today, but Bobo’s comment reminds us that a few are set extraordinarily high.
8. Nathan Adrian, 800 free relay member? Adrian’s great 200 free tonight made Ferb wonder aloud if Adrian could help out the U.S. internationally:
Hmm, maybe Adrian is the missing piece for the USA men’s 4×200 relay?
Our take: It seems like Ferb’s smiley indicates he’s mostly kidding – and that’s probably for the best. The long course 200 is a whole different animal, and there are probably better options for the Americans than Adrian. Still, it’s one of those bizarro-world scenarios that are surprisingly fun to consider.