Here are 4 big things we picked up from the final night of the Arena Pro Swim Series at Austin, plus 4 things you pointed out in the comment section:
1. Seliskar rising: It was an outstanding weekend for high school senior Andrew Seliskar, and the 200 fly was his finest moment. Seliskar tied his own lifetime-best with a huge 1:55.92. And while the 18-year-old beat a very talented field (including names like Tom Luchsinger and Tyler Clary), most impressive was how he won. Seliskar powered away early and was never seriously challenged, looking a cut above the opposition the entire swim. That’s the kind of performance USA Swimming wants to see from one of its most promising young stars.
2. Age is just a number: Saturday’s winner interviews were filled with enough “youths” to fluster Schmidt from “New Girl.” The night saw five different event winners 18 years of age or younger: Seliskar, 18; Katie McLaughlin, 17, and Cassidy Bayer, 15, who tied for the 200 fly title; Michael Andrew, 15, in the 100 breast; and of course a certain 17-year-old girl named Katie Ledecky. It was truly a great showing for the up-and-coming talent in swimming, who perhaps took advantage of some worn-down veterans, but also showed they have a place at the big kids table.
3. Hosszu breakthrough: It’s not often that Katinka Hosszu goes winless at a meet. After all, she recently went 16-for-17 on wins at one meet and won 4 different races at the Short Course World Championships. But it took her until day 3 to finally break through in Austin, and she had to come from behind on Caitlin Leverenz in the 200 IM to pull it off. That’s probably a testament to how strong the fields have been in Austin so far, but it was also an encouraging sign to see Hosszu close as well as she did in that IM race – it showed some of the competitive fire that’s driven her otherworldly exploits over the past few years.
4. Katie Ledecky: What more is there to say? Ledecky rolled through 600 meters under world record pace in her 800 free tonight and finished with the second-fastest time in history. It’s January. She’s been focused on short course racing and her high school season as of late, and she had no one pushing her in Austin. She was also coming off of wins in the 100, 200 and 400 frees over the past two days and had a 100 back and 200 IM mixed in there this morning to fatigue her too. And she still nearly broke a World Record. In January. In the middle of training. It’s official, guys and gals: she’s not human.
5. Ledecky’s weakest event: Commenter TeamWeiss brings up an interesting point about Ledecky’s primary events:
Strange to say this about a race in which she is 3 seconds faster than the next fastest woman in history but I think her 800 record is the softest of her three records. That being said, it would be tough for her to break it here but then again she last broke it at an age group meet, so why not.
Our take: A very interesting question! Ledecky’s 1500 free is on a different planet from anyone in history (her 15:28.36 leads any other swimmer by 14 seconds and she’s one of only a handful of swimmers ever under 16 minutes), but then again, not being in the Olympics probably makes the all-time rankings a bit softer. The 400 is much more competitive, given that it includes elite distance swimmers as well as 200/400 types, and Ledecky is the only one in history under 4 minutes there. TeamWeiss seems to make a pretty good case, but this might be a discussion for our comment section to continue.
6. Coughlin’s 75s: Commenter Justin Thompson notes that Natalie Coughlin seems to be struggling to finish her races:
Not a bad time for Coughlin in her first 100m Back in a while. Similar to the freestyle she puts together a great 75, but just can’t finish well.
Our take: That’s not the worst place to be at this point in training. Certainly Coughlin has focused in on the sprints much more now than she did ten years ago, though, and it’ll be key to her 2016 Olympic hopes to bring the back halves of her races up to speed.
7. Michael Andrew’s best stroke: Commenters Samuel Huntington and Sven combined to discuss the primary events for Michael Andrew, a common theme on SwimSwam over the years:
It looks like MA has become a breaststroker, with a very solid fly as well. Free and back are up in the air right now.
His backstroke was on over the summer and his breaststroke didn’t seem to have it’s old mojo. Now he seems to have figured breaststroke out again. I imagine that once he gets all of his strokes on point, we’ll be in for a good show.
Our take: It seems like we have this discussion every time Andrew pops a big swim. Sven seems most on point in noting that if the 15-year-old can get all his strokes popping at once, the IMs will probably become his most dangerous area of focus.
8. Grevers and the 200 back: Commenter Ole99 takes us back a day to when Matt Grevers branched out into the 200 backstroke:
Back for a second to Grevers and the 100 back. From the outside, I really think the 200 back work helps him. Very similar to what he did leading up to London if I am remembering things correctly.
Our take: We’re seeing more and more of this strategy come out with various elite athletes. Nathan Adrian competing in the 200 free short course as a training test for the 100 free long course comes to mind. Whatever Grevers is doing, it’s clearly working. His 53.27 in the 100 back tonight was spectacular.
We’ve been keeping tabs on the team battle between the college men of Texas and Cal this week. There’s not much to report from night 3, but since we did it every other night, here’s one more look at how many “A” and “B” finalists each team had:
|Event||A finalists||B finalists||A finalists||B finalists|
Though neither team had a full lineup, the final tallies had Cal leading with 11 A finalists and 4 B’s. Texas was just behind with 10 A’s and 4 B’s. Those numbers included swimmers who qualified for a final but scratched out.