Disclaimer: BlueSeventy Swim of the Week is not meant to be a conclusive selection of the best overall swim of the week, but rather one Featured Swim to be explored in deeper detail. The BlueSeventy Swim is an opportunity to take a closer look at the context of one of the many fast swims this week, perhaps a swim that slipped through the cracks as others grabbed the headlines, or a race we didn’t get to examine as closely in the flood of weekly meets.
Jay Litherland has long been known for his closing speed. His national breakout moment – running down defending Olympic champ Ryan Lochte to make the U.S. Olympic team in the 400 IM last summer – is maybe the best example, but last weekend, Litherland took it to the next level.
A 400 IM is arguably the most grueling race in swimming, switching up strokes every 100 to tax different muscle groups, with the last 100 meters of freestyle typically turning into a drag race to the finish between cars that have just gone through a demolition derby. The close is about finding speed through heavy fatigue; it’s a contest of wills but also about the actual physical limits of each swimmer’s energy systems.
Last week, in one of the most impressive ‘training swims’ we’ve seen in awhile, Litherland took that 100 meters of finishing freestyle and tripled it.
Litherland swam the A final of the 400 IM at the Santa Clara Pro Swim Series, then went back-to-back with the 200 freestyle. And he won that too.
The events were separated by just two heats of women’s 200 free and a short interview segment. For many swimmers coming off of a 400 IM, that’s the amount of time it takes just to see straight again.
Litherland went 4:13.79 in the IM – a season-best and the second-best time of any American this season. It also ranks 13th in the world so far this season. To do it, he closed in a 57.9, not far off his field-best 57.3 from Olympic Trials last summer. He came back just one event later to not only swim the 200 free but win it, going 1:49.28. He topped a field that included 4×200 free relay Olympic gold medalists Conor Dwyer, Gunnar Bentz and Jack Conger along with Olympians Long Gutierrez (Mexico), Dion Dreesens (Netherlands) and Chase Kalisz (USA).
All-in-all, Litherland wound up leading all swimmers in Santa Clara with 18 Pro Swim Series points. That included his absurd Saturday night double along with a tie for the win in the 200 IM and a runner-up finish in the 400 free.
WE MAKE SWIMMERS.
There isn’t a second that goes by when the team at blueseventy aren’t thinking about you. How you eat, breathe, train, play, win, lose, suffer and celebrate. How swimming is every part of what makes you tick. Aptly named because 70% of the earth is covered in water, blueseventy is a world leader in the pool and open water. Since 1993, we design, test, refine and craft products using superior materials and revolutionary details that equate to comfort, freedom from restriction and ultimately a competitive advantage in the water. This is where we thrive. There is no substitute and no way around it. We’re all for the swim.
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