Day 3 prelims are underway, and this should be a quick and painless session. We’ll get to watch the first rounds of the women’s 200 IM, which could be the best race of the entire meet with Caitlin Leverenz and Elizabeth Beisel swimming extremely well, and Ariana Kukors ready to blow-up.
10:09 AM – observation – there are a lot of Texas A&M Aggies in this 200 free at Trials. Ironic, because their 800 free relay is not very good.
10:12 AM – 2004 Olympian Rhi Jeffrey isn’t going to make the semi’s with that swim of 2:03.27, but she looked pretty darn good coming off of a stiff training break. Her hair is wild – bright pink to match her cap.
10:23 AM – headed into the circle-seeded heats, nobody is under two minutes. Texas A&M’s Sarah Henry is at the front of the field in 2:00.36. They’ll love getting her back next season.
10:31 AM – Lindsay Gendron from Tennessee – first swimmer I think I’ve seen at the meet who isn’t wearing a suit to her knees. Interesting.
Women’s 200 Free Prelims
There were no really dynamite times in the prelims of this women’s 200 free, much like we saw in the early heats of the men’s 200 free. This is a race where there’s enough of a gap between those at the top of the pile and the rest of the field, that the top swimmers can coast pretty well and still put up a good time.
Allison Schmitt took advantage of the opportunity to recover from her swift 400 free on Tuesday night and put up a 1:58.03 for the top seed. We can expect that to be probably a second lower this evening, and then at least three better in the final.
Dana Vollmer, making her big return to this race after scratching it at last year’s World Championships looked pretty good at 1:58.34. She came out of the pool maybe a bit more winded than was Schmitt (or even Franklin), but she still has more to give. She’ll be confident about getting a relay spot after this swim. Missy Franklin was 3rd in 1:58.62.
The breakout swim of this prelim was Shannon Vreeland as the 4th seed in 1:58.79, swimming next to Vollmer. She’s had a fantastic meet – a 4 second drop in the 400 free (though she just missed out in 9th), and now another best time already in this race. If we’re still going on the assumption that Allison Schmitt is going back to Georgia, combine her, Vreeland, and Megan Romano (6th – 1:58.98), and you might have the most disgusting 800 free relay that has ever been assembled in swimming. Another Bulldog, though a post-grad, Morgan Scroggy was 5th in 1:58.81. Georgia swimmers had 4 out of the top 6. Jack Bauerle continues to own this race.
In 7th was a spectacular performance from Lauren Perdue of Virginia. Just three months ago, in March, she had to scratch the NCAA Championships, because after fighting her way through ACC’s, she had too much back pain, from a lingering injury, to push any further and settled for surgery. And now she’s the 7th seed headed into the semi’s in 1:59.19 – nearly a best time – after just prelims. I think she was discounted by a lot of people because of that injury, but that swim took guts.
Texas teammates Karlee Bispo (9th – 1:59.19) and Kathleen Hersey (10th – 1:59.24) both looked solid, but I think both are capable of getting to 1:58-mids in the semis and challenging for a relay spot.
Jasmine Tosky, Elizabeth Beisel, and Katie Ledecky all were safely through as well with 1:59’s.
There were some big names missing this final. Lia Neal finished way back in 36th with a 2:01.68, not as good as she was at Junior Nationals in finals, but still as good as she’s been in a prelims swim; so that won’t be at all discouraging as her best bet remains the 100 and a relay spot. Katie Hoff missed another semifinal in 2:00.68 for 20th place.
Catherine Breed is the first alternate in 2:00.45; I was really hoping that she’d make at least an evening semi in this race as a good experience swim.
10:43 AM – Wow, a bunch of 2:02’s go up in the first heat of the men’s 200 fly. That’s blazing for the first heat compared to what we’ve seen.
11:00 AM – Still after 7 heats, we’ve only seen a pair of 2:01’s. After a promising start…more slow prelims. Nice swim from Auburn’s Zane Grothe in an off-event in 2:01.68. Charlie Rimkus from Northwestern also had a great swim early in his post-grad career.
11:08 AM – Northwestern Aquatics’ Stephen Yemm, originally from cross-town UI-Chicago, was a 55.9 at the turn in heat 10 (of 14). He HURT on the way back – but dropped two tenths to go a best time. That’s a hard way to do it. (*Update* Yemm was DQ’ed for pushing off on his back on a turn. My feeling: DQ for being too much of a man on the front-half. I’m impressed regardless).
11:14 AM – Another DQ, this one for Indiana’s Stephen Schmuhl. Time was probably a throw-away anyway; he was much better in the 400 IM.
11:22 AM – Phelps’ pre-race back slaps are in rare form this morning. Echoes throughout the arena.
Men’s 200 Fly
The defending National Champion, Bobby Bollier, isn’t going to sit in an outside lane to earn his spot to London like he did to win his National Title last year in Palo Alto. He went after this morning swim, and took a 1:56.69 for the top seed.
Tyler Clary, after taking a mental-day on Tuesday to get himself set-up for the rest of his Olympic runs, looked very good in this 200 fly prelim with a 1:57.23 200 fly. His 200 back is still a better bet at the team, but don’t discount him in this 200 fly either.
And Michael Phelps won his heat comfortably, in 1:57.75. That only gave him the third seed, but he was totally unphased, still looked relaxed, and is still fully in control of this event. North Carolina’s Thomas Lunchsinger continued his school’s trend of awesome swims by tying with Phelps.
Former Phelps training partner Dan Madwed, racing next to him, took the 5th seed in 1:58.27. He’ll probably be better with someone to race. Dakota Hodgson and Davis Tarwater, a couple of Tennessee guys, also made it safely to the afternoon. For Tarwater, either this 200 fly is no longer his event, or he played his race perfectly to finish 11th in 1:59.35. He was riding 7th for most of this heat, and was ultimately 5th, which was a bit nerve-wrecking.
Former NCAA Champion Mark Dylla and one of the American representatives at British Trials Michael Flach were 8th and 7th, respectively.
11:50 AM – Aja van Hout from Wisconsin got DQ’ed in heat 7 for a premature butterfly kick on her breaststroke pullout. Texas’ Adrienne Woods declared a false start in heat 8, no swim. Merritt Krawczyk from Penn State still sits atop in 2:15.96.
11:54 AM – lots of DQ’s on breaststroke pullouts in this IM. Another scratch, from MacKenzie Stein.
11:56 AM – Caroline McElhany continues to rip this meet – 2:15.09 to win heat 9 – best time so far. Her kick looked great coming home.
12:00 PM – Becca Mann scratched the 200 IM after swimming the 200 free earlier. She’s better in the distance races.
12:01 PM – The kids carrying the baskets with gear are supposed to use military turns. Some of them are way more into it than others.
12:09 PM – big-time DQ in the women’s 200 IM as Georgia’s Melanie Margalis was hit for not being fully on her stomach on the breaststroke leg. This is one of those calls that you’ll probably only ever see called at a meet as big as this one. She was the 11th seed overall.
Women’s 200 IM prelims
The best head-to-head battle came in the 13th and final heat, where Ariana Kukors and Elizabeth Beisel squared off head-to-head. Kukors took the lead on the breaststroke leg, where she’s great, and put up about a body-length lead. Beisel, right next to her, probably thought that was a bit much, and in true Gator fashion rocketed off of the final wall and to the heat-win in 2:13.26. Kukors was 2nd in the heat in 2:13.58.
But neither of them was better than Caitlin Leverenz, who made a big statement in 2:12.38, including not-surprisingly the best breaststroke split of the top 8. A swim that fast this early is a statement, my guess is she’ll have another small drop to safely make it through to finals while saving a little bit of energy, and then crush the race on Thursday evening.
Liz Pelton, who’s scratched the 100 back final from tonight by her coach Paul Yetter’s decision (it comes before this 200 IM semi), looked pretty good for the 4th seed in 2:13.89.
Those are the big four, but other good swims came from USC Trojan Andrea Kropp. She has spent her year off from college swimming not only working on improving her specialty the 200 breast, but making a concerted effort to develop third and fourth events. This 200 IM has been among the focus, and her 2:14.91 for 10th showed that. She actually was two-tenths faster (37.76) than even Leverenz was.
Jasmine Tosky also made the semi in 2:15.55; she hasn’t been great in this meet, though that was a second swim of the day after finishing 11th in the 200 free earlier in the session, I’d guess she’ll scratch one of these races or the other in the evening.
There were a ton of disqualifications in this race, but the most notable was Georgia’s Melanie Margalis. She swam a 2:14, which would have put her into the semi-finals, but was hit on her breast-to-free turn for being on her back when she left the wall. That call brought jeers from the crowd.