The final day in Austin at the 2012 Winter National Championships, hosted on the campus of the University of Texas, was every bit as exciting as the first two, and then some, as records were obliterated and storylines for the coming spring both collegiately and professionally built.
Missy Franklin won the meet’s high point award for the women after winning three golds, a silver, and a bronze; Ryan Murphy and Matt Grevers shared the men’s award.
Grevers’ American Record in the 100 back earned the Phillips 66 Performance Award as well.
Women’s 1650 Free
15-year old Katie Ledecky, swimming under the NCAP banner, broke her first National Age Group Record of the meet with a 15:28.36 in the women’s 1650 free. That broke both her own NAG Record by 12 seconds (read more about that record here), as well as knocking 20 seconds off of Haley Anderson’s Meet Record from 2010 that was set at 15:48.64. It also got the 1000 record, en route to the 1650.
Anderson took runner-up this year in 15:55.91; that’s a great time for a college swimmer this time of year. Though she was faster in 2010 (when she had set the Meet Record), she was only a 16:03 mid-season last year – easily the best season of her career.
Indiana’s Lindsay Vrooman swam a best time for third place, dipping a few hundredths under her result from last year’s NCAA Championship meet.
13-year old Isabella Rongione was 10th in 16:22.99 – just a hair off of her best time.
Men’s 1650 Free
Texas’ Michael McBroom, the 2011 NCAA Champion in this event, got a great jump on a bounceback year with a 14;40.10 in this men’s mile. Much like Ledecky in the women’s race, McBroom won by a huge margin, though his break didn’t come until a little bit later in the race.
18-year old Tennessee commit Evan Pinion of the Dynamo Swim Club kept things close for the first 700 yards, but then McBroom’s consistent 26.6’s/26.7’s started making a big impact.
McBroom’s final time was three seconds faster than he was at last year’s NCAA Championship meet, and Pinion ended up 2nd in a lifetime best of 14:56.47. Pinion, like McBroom, seems to be having a bounceback year in the 2012-2013 season.
USC sophomore Cristian Quintero was 3rd in 15:00.79.
Women’s 200 Back
A pair of young Colorado natives, who had so many great high school battles the last three years, wrote another chapter in their rivalry at Winter Nationals, as Missy Franklin and Bonnie Brandon were center-stage in lanes 4 & 5 in this 200 backstroke final.
Brandon stayed in the hunt at the halfway mark of this race, but as Franklin loves doing in this 200 backstroke she took off on the third 50 yards, where she was more than eight-tenths faster than Brandon. Franklin slowed just a hair on her closing 50, but by then she had some clean water and was running for the wall as she took the win in 1:49.18. That gave her a third win in the meet and missed Liz Pelton’s American Record by an excruciating .02 seconds.
She and Brandon (1:51.49) were both under the old Meet Record of 1:51.58 held by Mary Descenza from 2008.
Dynamo’s Kylie Stewart carried on a great meet for her club with a 1:52.77 for 3rd, followed by Indiana freshman Brooklyn Snodgrass in 1:53.97: an NCAA B-cut. That ranks Snodgrass already 3rd on Indiana’s all-time list behind only former NCAA Champion Kate Fesenko and Taylor Wohrley.
NCAP’s Janet Hu was 5th in 1:54.82, giving her a 6th personal best for a meet where she swam two National Age Group Records. Hu is making a statement for the honor of top college recruit in the class of 2014.
Men’s 200 Back
Ryan Murphy, after a Ryan Lochte scratch in the final, was left with Lochte’s Gator Swim Club training partner Arkady Vyatchanin to gun-down big swims in this men’s 200 back.
Vyatchanin let Murphy take to the front in the first 50 yards. The two were fairly close through the second two 50’s, though Murphy was able to pick up a crucial few tenths on each lap.
In the last lap, the older and therefore more physically mature and experienced Vyatchanin, closed very well. Very few swimmers are able to close this 200 backstroke in under 25 seconds, and perhaps nobody is able to do it in the 24.39 that Vyatchanin came home in.
Murphy’s lead from the first 50 carried him though, as he was able to squeak out a win in 1:38.15 – a new 17-18 National Age Group Record (read more about that record here). Vyatchanin was 2nd in 1:38.22, as those swims rank as the third and fifth fastest, respectively, in the history of the event.
USC’s Alex Lendrum was 3rd in 1:42.29 followed by Indiana’s Eric Ress in 1:42.72. Those are two of a handful of competitors for this NCAA title, both seniors, which give’s Lendrum a bit of a psychological edge perhaps. Michigan State’s Jacob Jarzen took 5th in 1:43.10 (he was half-a-second better in prelims).
Arizona’s Michael Sheppard won the B-Final in 1:42.77.
Women’s 100 Free
Even a lifetime best from Missy Franklin (47.60) wasn’t enough to derail the Arizona steam-train from rolling through this meet, with the latest win a huge swim coming from Margo Geer in the women’s 100 free. She swam a 47.16 that is just a fingernail away from her third-place swim at NCAA’s last year (.02 seconds back, to be exact). She and Georgia’s Megan Romano should be well out ahead of the field for this national title in March.
Olivia Smoliga was 3rd in 47.89, followed by First Colony’s Simone Manuel in 47.97. Manuel is only 16, and her momentum has slowly been building to this point, but her time is here to sit among the elitest juniors in the country – that time makes her only the 2nd 15-16 (after Dagny Knutson) to swim under 48 seconds in this race.
Jessica Hardy was 5th in 47.98.
Texas’ Karlee Bispo, still working her way through the early parts of a potentially-successful postgrad career at Texas, won the B-Final in 48.19.
Men’s 100 Free
Matt Grevers once again used his huge underwaters to complete a perfect three-for-three run at Nationals by winning the 100 free in 41.71. He took out the race with 19.7 opening speed that nobody could come close to matching.
Louisville’s Joao de Lucca, who it seemed had peaked for the semester two weeks ago at the Purdue Invite, was a 42.05 for 2nd. That extends his lead as the fastest 100 freestyler in the country this year. Ricky Berens was 3rd in 42.37, and Arizona’s Giles Smith tied for 4th in 42.63.
Smith, who has been a very good butterflier, is really starting to step up as a big sprinter for the Wildcats this year – just what they needed. That time ranks him behind only de Lucca nation-wide at the collegiate level.
Russia’s Nikita Lobintsev, now training with Trojan, tied Smith in 42.63.
Eugene Godsoe, who is back training at Stanford, won the B-Final in 42.59 ahead of Dax Hill (43.27).
Women’s 200 Breast
Texas’ Laura Sogar wasn’t able to get the last tenth she needed to dip into the 2:04’s, but she did re-establish herself as an NCAA title contender with a 2:05.39 in the final to take the US National title in the women’s 200 yard breaststroke. She set a school record in the morning with a 2:05.04.
She paced the race about the same way as she did in prelims but was just a tick slower on each lap.
New USC transfer Andrea Kropp was 2nd in 2:07.62 followed by her teammate Jessica Schmitt in 2:09.78.
In the B-Final, Miranda Tucker from Plymouth-Canton Cruisers won in 2:10.53. She’s only 15-years old and is an emerging name to watch in this 200 breaststroke. Jasmine Tosky had a warmup for the 200 fly with a 2:12.86 for 13th in this race; she’s been under 2:10 before.
Men’s 200 Breast
Kevin Cordes broke his 2nd American and U.S. Open Records in this 200 breaststroke with a 1:50.73 win, including an opening 100 of 53.3. (Read more about his American Record here). He and training partner Clark Burckle, who is a post-grad representing Tucson Ford, were almost dead-even at the turn, but Cordes was surprisingly able to out-close the Olympic Burckle.
Burckle had a roller-coaster of a time after this race; he initially believed that he too had broken the old American/U.S. Open Records in the race when he touched in 1:51.20, but was then DQ’ed. Different reports from on deck have said that the call was either for multiple dolphin kicks on a pullout or for a small separation of the feet that an official identified as a flutter kick.
About 15 minutes after that DQ though, with Burckle remaining in high spirits, his time was reinstated following a protest from his coach Eric Hansen. They now walk away with the #1 and #2 fastest swims ever in this event from the same race.
Trojan’s Mike Alexandrov, who used to train in Tucson as well, was 3rd in 1:52.24, followed by yet another Wildcat, Austen Thompson, in 1:54.73.
Indiana’s four-time Big Ten Champion Cody Miller took 5th in 1:54.89, and Tennessee senior Bradley Craig was 6th in 1:55.11.
In the B-Final, future Texas Longhorn William Licon won in 1:57.07. USC 20-year old freshman Morten Klarskov was just behind him in 1:57.42, and Texas’ 20-year old freshman Imri Ganiel was 11th in 1:57.85. Ganiel’s breaststrokes become even more significant now that Nick D’Innocenzo is seemingly off of the squad for this year.
Women’s 200 Fly
USC freshman Jasmine Tosky won the women’s 200 fly in 1:54.38. She slid just under 1:54 in prelims and now sits behind only Texas A&M Olympian Cammile Adams as second in the collegiate-country this season.
NYAC’s Kim Vandenberg was 2nd in 1:55.94 and just out-touched hard-finishing UCLA sophomore Noelle Tarazona (1:55.95). UCLA was hurt a bit by the graduation of their great 200 butterflier Jasmin Jahanshahi, but Tarazona now ranks 4th in the NCAA this year.
Indiana’s Brenna Maclean was 4th in 1:56.88. Her freshman teammate Haley Lips won the B-Final in 1:57.45.
Men’s 200 Fly
Tom Shields swam the third-fastest 200 yard butterfly in history on Saturday with a 1:40.20, bettering his own personal best by about a tenth of a second. In the FINA World Cup series he did some great work on his finish and that showed up here with a four-second win.
Only Michael Phelps has been faster in the race, and though Shields is expected to rejoin the Cal lineup in January, this swim will probably not count as the NCAA record. That’s because he’s taking the semester off and is not officially representing Cal at this meet.
In 2nd was Denver Swim Academy senior Clark Smith in 1:44.58. The Texas Longhorn legacy, who has committed to swim collegiately in this pool next season for Eddie Reese, has been swimming beyond expectations all weekend long. That time was two-and-a-half seconds faster than his best coming into the meet – vital for the Longhorns who need to seriously beef up the depth in their butterfly group.
Arizona’s Nimrod Shapira Bar-Or was 3rd in 1:44.80, followed by his teammate Matthew Barber in 1:45.39. NCAP’s Andrew Seliskar, who set a breaststroke NAG Record earlier in this meet, was 5th in 1:45.44. That’s the second-best time in 15-16 age group history, though still three seconds behind the legendary Mr. Phelps.
Women’s 400 Free Relay
The Arizona women capped the meet with another free relay Meet Record, swimming their way to a 3:13.90. That result probably isn’t as good as they had in the 200 free on the first night of the meet, but after a long weekend it’s a good result. That included a 47.83 leadoff from Margo Geer alongside a surprisingly-sprinty 48.4 from Bonnie Brandon, 48.6 from Megan Lafferty, and 48.9 from Alana Pazevic. Geer is the only of those four who swam on this relay in the NCAA Finals last season.
Men’s 400 Free Relay
The Arizona men matched their women to win the 400 free relay in 2:51.21. The only swim not under 43 seconds on this relay was the leadoff Giles Smith, who was a 43.08. Knowing that Smith had been a 42 flat-start earlier in the day, swimming that time that was better than they were all of last year is a very good sign for this team, especially given the graduations their sprint group was hit with.
Defending NCAA Champions Texas were 2nd in 2:54.06, carried by a 41.92 anchor from Dax Hill.