Today was the last set of morning prelims from USA Swimming Nationals in Palo Alto, and as expected the women’s 100 free shapes up to be a great final.
Cal’s Dana Vollmer, who already has a 100 fly national title to her name, took the top seed in 54.20, which is further demonstration of how well she’s been able to carry her taper over from Shanghai. That swim is almost identical to her prelims time from Worlds.
Kara Lynn Joyce had a great start and carried that through to a 54.81 for the 2nd-seed, and her teammate Missy Franklin tied with Amanda Weir as the 3rd-seed in 54.98.
Megan Romano, Erika Erndl, Lia Neal, Margo Geer, Allison Schmitt, and Amanda Kendall will round out the A-Final. Jessica Hardy and Kasey Carlson, amongst others, were late scratches from the event.
Worth noting in the event is the Amanda Kendall’s presence in the A-Final with a 55.30. In 2010, her best time was two-seconds slower, and already this summer she has now improved her career-best in meters by a second-and-a-half. The LSU junior-to-be was a breakout star on the NCAA level, much like we saw with her teammate Jane Trepp. It looks like Dave Geyer, who took over the program last year, has really got things on track down in Baton Rouge.
In the women’s 200 breaststroke, SwimMAC’s Micah Lawrence got off to a good start and swam to a 2:27.56, which is her best time of the summer so far. She’s probably been focusing on her speed (which was shown in her great first-50 split of 33.3) in advance of her 100 breaststroke at the World University Games. She’ll probably be hoping to get down into the 2:25 range in the final, though is unlikely to go a best-time.
behind her were Haley Spencer (2:28.38) and Andrea Kropp (2:28.65).
With plenty of great backstrokers, but few true elite-200 backstroker, in the field, the men’s 200 back final shapes up to be an intriguing race. Matt Grevers will enter as the top seed in a 2:00.22, followed closely by Daytona Beach Swimming/Gator Swim Club’s Rexford Tullius in 2:00.27. Just behind that grouping is Trojan’s James Lendrum in 2:00.36, and defending NCAA Champion Cory Chitwood in 2:00.82. Chitwood definitely has a chance at taking a top-three medal in this race, as he’s got some time to drop in the final.
Other big names in this final include 17-year old Jacob Pebley (5th – 2:01.00) Nick Thoman (6th – 2:01.02).
Notably, the fastest swimmer in the prelim was Indiana’s Eric Ress. Ress, a dual French-American citizen who was the 2010 French Champion in this event, swam a 1:59.56. While he’s ineligible for finals because he officially represents France at the moment, he is in the process of converting his sporting nationality to American because French Olympic Trials conflict with the NCAA Championships in 2012. He was officially listed as a “DQ” on the results, though, rather than an “international scratch.”
Cal’s Sean Mahoney continued his hot 2011 season by taking the top seed in the men’s 200 breaststroke in 2:12.17. Behind him was the comeback king, Brendan Hansen, whose meet is already successful with his 100 breaststroke title from earlier in the week. His 2nd-seeded time in this 200 was a 2:13.30 in an event that he didn’t compete in at his last two major international competitions (the 2007 World Championships and 2008 Olympics). Hansen’s been as fast as a 2:08.5 in his career, and it still appears as though his big Olympic hopes are in the 100 breaststroke. Still, based on his slow closing 50 in the 200, he may have some big gains to make in the next year as he continues to regain his endurance (he swam three-fourths of a 2:12.0).
Clark Burckle is the 3rd-seed in 2:13.47, just behind Hansen. The short-course American Record holder Mike Alexandrov (2:15.39) qualified 12th and into the B-Final and Ed Moses took 14th in 2:15.55. Elliott Keefer, who swam this race at Worlds, was DQ’ed.