Day 7’s morning session will feature both one of the quickest, most nail-biting races on the schedule in the women’s 50 free, as well as the men’s 1500, the longest event on the schedule.
There will be a lot of women in this 50 taking their last opportunity to make the team on this day, so we could see some huge, surprising, and unexpected swims emerge, if we’re lucky.
10:11 AM – Annie Chandler with a 25.61 leads the first 10 heats! Speed to burn from her. Rachel Bootsma with a 26.10 in heat 11 – she’s on the team already in the 100 back.
10:17 AM – Shara Stafford is a scratch as well. She was 5th at NCAA’s last year; in the heat that she would have been in, Betsy Webb (4th at NCAA’s) moved ahead of Chandler with a 25.40.
Women’s 50 Free Prelims
The women’s 50 free showed great preliminary speed with a whopping 5 swimmers marking 25.00 or better. As compared to the 24.99 with which Lara Jackson won the USA Swimming National Championship last year, this was a big Trials-year step up for the American women. The leader was a 24.55 from Jessica Hardy that very-nearly matched her best time from the 2008 Olympic Trials where she was a best time.
After winning the women’s 100 free on Saturday evening, Hardy seems to have settled into a big-time sprint rhythm. She has to be the favorite as we move on to the semi-finals.
Close behind in 2nd, winning heat 14, was Christine Magnuson from Tucson Ford. We’ve been talking all week about how focused she seems to be on this 50 this week, and that came to fruition with a huge start that carried her to a 24.75 for the 2nd seed. Those times are both better than any American was in all of 2011.
Kara Lynn Joyce made her move back to SwimMAC seemingly a little too late to help her 100, but her 50 was flying as she touched 3rd in 24.93, tied with another recent SwimMAC returnee Madison Kennedy.
45-year old Dara Torres was 5th in 25.00, followed by Arizona’s Margo Geer, Sam Woodward, and Amanda Weir.
Last year’s USA Swimming National Champion was 9th in 25.27, and Annie Fittin was 7th in 25.59.
Young Maddy Schaeffer, who tied the 17-18 National Age Group Record in the 100 yard freestyle a few weeks ago, was 18th in 25.60, and Lia Neal, who will be a member of the Olympic Team, missed this semifinal with a 25.67.
Men’s 1500 Free
Connor Jaeger from Michigan has exploded in distance swimming this year. Having swum the 1500 for the first time in his life last November, he’s only swum the race a total of three-times coming into this meet.
Apparently, for the one-time middle-distance prospect, even a 1500 isn’t enough for him now. After hitting the wall first in the 9th heat, Jaeger was in such a groove that despite having a large bell rung in his ear 100 meters earlier, he did a flip-turn and continued swimming. About 75 meters later, he figured out what was happening and stopped, mid-pool and sort of tarzan-styled it back to the wall.
This was one of the funniest moments of the meet to date, but here’s the scary part: Jaeger swam a 14:59.97 to break 15 minutes for the first time of his career, take the 2nd seed headed into finals, and he still thought he had a closing kick left for the final 100 meters. Based on how fast most of the field finished (and he was still tearing on the last 100), that could have easily been a 14:57 or 14:56 if timed properly. That’s scary for his competitors headed into finals, where he could do something really special.
That result put him as the second seed overall behind Andrew Gemmell from Georgia. The open water National Champion had big-time momentum coming into this meet, and his 14:57.29 reaffirmed the notion that he is a favorite to take one of the two spots on the Olympic Team. The young Florida-bound high school senior Arthur Frayler was 3rd in 15:08.08.
The two representatives for the Americans at last year’s World Championships, Peter Vanderkaay and Chad La Tourette played a dangerous game in this suddenly-stacked event. Vanderkaay swam a 15:08.93, and La Tourette was 6th in 15:10.38. I believe one of those men will not be returning to the squad with a spot in this race in 2012.
Texas’ Michael McBroom, a former NCAA Champion, was 15:10.32 for the 5th seed; he was faster last season so don’t sleep on him. Another pair of Wolverines rounded out the final 8 also in 15:10’s: Sean Ryan and Ryan Feeley.
Full day 7 results are available here.