On the 2nd night at the TYR Fran Crippen Memorial Swim Meet of Champions, Tyler Clary had a performance that had the swimming sphere fluttering when he pulled off a monster double. For those who were curious about what Clary has been doing the last 11 weeks, which is how long it’s been since we’ve last seen him in competition, he put up a night to remember.
He started his swims off with a win in the 200 fly in a Meet Record of 1:57.32. That’s his best time of the season, and leaves him just outside of the world’s top 20.
About 5 heats and an awards ceremony later, he hit the water and won the men’s 200 backstroke in a blazing 1:56.25, which makes him the 2nd-fastest in the world this year (behind five 1:54 swims from Japan’s Ryosuke Irie).
Though both times were impressive, Clary’s money-race in Shanghai (and London) of the pair appears to definitely be the 200 backstroke, along with the 400 IM. Though he’s not yet at a full-taper, it will be interesting to see how much more focus Clary puts on the 200 fly over the next year, given that he now appears to be at least a silver-medal favorite in his other two races.
(In a moment that earned a little chuckle from those watching the USA-Swimming live-feed, Clary had to be repeatedly called to the awards stand after the 200 back. Needless to say, he was probably hurting pretty badly and was taking full-advantage of the warm-down pool.)
Clary isn’t the only swimmer to set a meet record in Mission Viejo. New Zealand’s Melissa Ingram, who is part of a group from the famed North Shore club that is spending an extended training trip working with Dave Durden at Cal, won the 200 backstroke in 2:10.81. This broke a Meet Record that was set 11 years ago in 2011 by Tomoko Hadiwara.
Canada’s Erica Morningstar won the women’s 100 freestyle in a season-best 55.28. This is an important swim for her as she will be battling with teammate Genevieve Saumaur (with a season-best of 55.26) for a spot in the 400 free relay in London. Saumaur has been named to that spot for Shanghai, though Morningstar will compete in the 200 IM. Morningstar was on the relay that finished 8th in Beijing.
Chloe Sutton of the host Nadadores team took her second win of the meet when she took the women’s 400 free in 4:09.61. Unlike her win in the 800, which was a season-best, Sutton was well shy of her top 2011 time in this race. Still, she closed the race very strong for being a 3rd swim of the night (after taking 5th in the 100 free and 12th in the 200 fly), and held off an impressive field behind her.
Ashley Steenvoorden was an interesting name to finish 2nd in this race in 4:11.01. She is the defending Big Ten Champion in both the 500 and 1650 freestyles, but had a lackluster 2010 USA Swimming National Championship. Still, she showed in this race that she could hang with the country’s top swimmers in this “tweener” race head-to-head. She didn’t make any of the major international teams yet this year, so she will be one of the leading candidates to watch at this summer’s Nationals with a chance to earn a spot at the Pan Am Games.
2004 Olympic Gold medalist Otylia Jedrzejczak took the women’s 200 fly in 2:10.61, which is not a great performance for her. USC’s Lyndsay DePaul took 2nd in 2:11.43. DePaul is looking for a strong start her post-graduate career at this summer’s World University Games after disappointingly ending her college career without an elusive NCAA title.
Another former college swimmer looking for a big start to their post-grad life is Matt McLean, who won the men’s 400 free in a career-best time of 3:51.30. He was able to blow by National Teamer Michael Klueh (4:51.96) coming off of the race’s final turn. McLean is at a bit of a turning-point of his career. In his senior year of college, he won the National title in the 500 free, but was equal at 4th in both the 200 and 1650. He is now 2011’s fastest American in this 400 free, where the US is pretty weak at the moment, so that event should stay a part of his repertoire. His spot on this summer’s World University Games team was earned in the 200 free, and he’s made no secret that he’s not a fan of the distance freestyles, so the obvious answer is that he’ll be a 200/400 guy at the 2012 Olympic Trials.
Jason Lezak, who at 36 next year will be gunning for his fourth Olympic team, won the men’s 100 free in 49.71.