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.
Katie McLaughlin is now about a full year out from a devastating neck injury that cost her not only her freshman year at Cal, but also cost her a possible Olympic berth in Rio. But McLaughlin is coming back stronger than ever… and with a few new tricks up her sleeve.
McLaughlin is mainly known as a butterflyer. Her lifetime-best of 2:06.95 in the long course 200 fly (set at Worlds in 2015) would have earned her an Olympic spot last summer, beating out second place by six tenths of a second and coming within a tenth of winning U.S. Olympic Trials. Instead, McLaughlin, still coming back from the neck injury and competing with a severely shortened seasonal training base, had to settle for 6th place.
And though she hasn’t yet topped that 200 fly time in her return to form, McLaughlin proved at last weekend’s Grand Challenge meet in California that she’s adding some new weapons to her arsenal as she returns to form: namely, a fast-rising 400 freestyle.
McLaughlin went a lifetime-best 4:13.53 to win that event by a second and a half in Irvine. That’s a drop of almost 5 seconds from her previous lifetime-best, set a month ago, and almost 6 seconds from her best time prior to April of this year.
She’s shown the same improvements in short course yards, going from 4:51.3 in the 500 yard free to 4:36.04 over the course of her sophomore season at Cal. At the same time, she improved her short course 200 fly from 1:54.1 to 1:52.3.
McLaughlin hasn’t yet really gone after a rested long course 200 fly this season. But if her improvements in endurance are any indicator, we might see a version of McLaughlin next month that isn’t just back from injury, but even better than she was before it.
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