Day two at the 2011 USA Swimming (LCM) National Championships got off to a rip-roaring start in Palo Alto, beginning with some huge swims in the women’s 100 back.
Women’s 100 back
No sooner than had Missy Franklin blown away many of the world’s best swimmers at the World Championships, she was already earning herself some doubters of her talents. Though she surely had blinders on, it would be no surprise if she felt a need to show what she really has in the 100 backstroke after a mediocre time in the 200 IM yesterday.
Franklin came through in a huge way to win her first-career USA Swimming National Championship with a phenomenal 59.18. That betters her previous career-best (59.56) handily, and even a week after her taper meet, moves her to 5th in the world this year. It’s no surprise, really, that Franklin is swimming well in this meet; as the youngest member of the World Championship team, it wouldn’t be unexpected that she would bounce-back the best from the long journey home from Shanghai.
Another young-star of USA Swimming, Rachel Bootsma, also set a personal-best to take silver in 59.65. That pair represents the future of the American women’s National Team, and I don’t think that’s a stretch at all. In 3rd was Tennessee’s Jennifer Connolly in 1:00.72, followed by a tie for 4th between Megan Romano, who is preparing to leave for China, and Liz Pelton, who is just returning, in 1:00.87.
Men’s 200 free
For the first time in five-year, it was not Michael Phelps who stood atop the podium at the end of the 200 free at the long course Naitonal Championships. Instead, it was Phelps’ former Club Wolverine teammate Peter Vanderkaay who won this title, in a 1:46.45. That is his best time of the year, and faster than he went all of last year, despite just returning from Shanghai. He now sits 8th in the world in 2011 in this event. He really played the back-half of this race, splitting a 27.13 on her third 50, which was more than half-a-second faster than anyone else in the field and put this race in his control.
So far on day 2, the World Championships swimmers seem to be adjusting well to the time-change. It will be interesting to see if that continues throughout the rest of the week, or if the odd sleep schedules catch up to them a bit more headed towards Saturday.
Behind Vanderkaay was former Virginia, and current Snow Swimming/FAST swimmer, Matt McLean in 1:47.77. After his National Championship in the 400 free last night, McLean has to feel really good headed into the World University Games, as that’s a career-best time for him. McLean outswam a pair of World Championship team members in Ricky Berens (1:48.32) and former UVA teammate Scot Robison (1:48.49). In fact out of the top 8 swimmers in this race (Michael Klueh, Dax Hill, (not) Matt Patton, and Tyler Clary rounded out the rest), 7 were either World Championships participants or will be World University Games participants.
Notably, out of the B-final, Texas’ Jackson Wilcox, who is generally focused on the much longer freestyle events, won a great battle over World Championship’er Conor Dwyer 1:49.84-1:49.96. That’s a grea time for Wilcox, a caree-best in fact, but Dwyer probably wanted to be faster than that.
Men’s 100 backstroke
Tucson Ford’s Matt Grevers was the biggest shock that didn’t make the World Championship team this year, and he was on a mission in this 100 backstroke final to show that he belongs on the Olympic Team next year. While he may not have quite achieved that, he certainly showed that he deserves to be strongly in the conversation with a big win in 53.14. That places him as the 6th-fastest in the world this year, and within a tenth or so of what Nick Thoman and David Plummer, who rank 4th and 5th in the world, respectively, did in Shanghai.
Grevers said after the race that he approached this race much differently than he usually does, which is to take the swim out a bit slower, and try to close hard. Though that may have been what was going through his head, it certainly wasn’t reflected in his swim. He was in the lead at the turn (out in 25.95) and still came back faster than anyone else. It may not come out in the pool, but if building the race is what’s in his head, maybe this is a sign that he’s just been over-straining on this opening 50, to the point that it actually negatively affected his speed.
A few tenths behind Grevers was Nick Thoman in 53.57, about half-a-second off of what he went last week in Shanghai, followed by Ryan Lochte in 53.79. That puts Lochte 13th in the World this year, though with one of the tougher World Championship schedules in the world, this swim isn’t a perfect indicator of what he would have gone last week. Auburn’s Kyle Owens is a great young swimmer who’s been having a breakout summer, and he finished 4th in 54.30.
In the C-Final of this race, Jack Conger of Rockville-Montgomery Swim Club broke the 15-16 National Age Group Record in 55.02. David Nolan, who will swim at this pool in the fall as a freshman for Stanford, took 14th out of the B-final in 55.21, which misses his best time by a tenth.
Women’s 200 free
After going out hard at World’s and dying on the last 50, Allison Schmitt took an entirely different tact in this 200 free at Nationals. This time, she went out slow (she was 9th at the halfway mark) and blasted home to the finish in 1:57.94. Schmitt actually negative-split this race, which is rare for a 200 free, with 100 split times of 59.20-58.74. Though her finishing time doesn’t compare to what she went at Worlds, she actually closed way faster than she did in Shanghai (1:01.24). She’s still got some tinkering to do with her pacing before the Olympics next year, so don’t be surprised to see quite a bit of long course racing from her between now and then.
Catherine Breed of the Pleasanton Seahawks (who, as a team, have been having a great meet) placed 2nd in 1:58.86. Breed was the youngest swimmer in the A-final, and will be swimming for Cal in the fall. Rounding out the top three was Alyssa Anderson in 1:59.31.
Stanford’s Kate Dwelley had a huge swim out of the C-Final (and an outside lane at that) in 1:59.13, which was the 3rd-fastest time overall. She had a great swim later in the 400 free, and if she can put in a good prelims swim to make a final later in the meet in the 100, she could be one of the surprises of the meet.
Men’s 200 fly
Bobby Bollier gave the home-pool Stanford Aquatics their first win of this National Championship meet in the 200 fly, and in a bit of fate did it out of lane 10, which is his training lane in this very pool every day in practice. Perhaps that familiarity is what gave him the comfort to sit back through 150 meters and close in a final 50 of 30.02, his fastest of the swim aside from the leadoff. His winning time was 1:56.64, which puts him in the top-25 in the world this year. He’ll still have another chance to swim this at the Universiade in a week-and-a-half.
Bollier won this race on the very last stroke ahead of 2006 National Champion Dan Madwed of Club Wolverine/the University of Michigan. Madwed touched in 1:56.71. Madwed and Bollier will both be seniors next year, and should be amongst the favorites to win this 200 fly title at NCAA’s. Along with them will be Tom Shields, who looked very good in the B-final here but faded at the end to finish 12th in 2:00.56. Shields, the NCAA Record Holder – set at Pac 10’s last year – will also be in the mix at the NCAA level, though a week out of the World University Games was probably really itching to break two mintues for the first time in his career.
Another former Michigan man, now at SwimMAC, Davis Tarwater taking 3rd in 1:56.78. In 4th was North Carolina/Three River’s Tom Luchsinger in 1:57.01, which is a new UNC long course school record.
Shields will swim the 100 in Shenzen, but it will be NCAA Champion Mark Dylla who will take the other 200 fly spot with Bollier. Dylla finished 5th in 1:58.19.
Women’s 400 free relay
In a mild upset, the Stanford women’s 400 free relay broke the Championship Record in 3:40.31. They were led by a great second-leg from Kate Dwelley in 54.25. Dwelley had a great session overall, as we mentioned above in the women’s 200 free. She was joined on this relay by Felicia Lee, Sam Woodward, and Julia Smit.
The Athens Bulldogs finished 2nd in 3:41.80. In 3rd was Tucson Ford Dealers Aquatics, who were the former record holders. There wer no real mind-boggling splits in this final, with Jessica Hardy flat-starting a 54.9, Missy Franklin roll-starting a 54.2, and Dana Vollmer roll-starting a 54.3.
Not everyone cares about team scoring at meets like these, but I think it’s an aspect that will really help the sport to grow, so I’ll end each finals recap with a few sentences about it. Two victories on the day pulled Stanford into the scoring lead with 317, but they’re still neck-and-neck with defending champions Tucson Ford, with 315. Stanford is getting a ton of bang-for-their bucks, but with almost twice as many swimmers attending from Tucson Ford (43, as compared to Stanford’s 23), it’s going to be hard for the home team to hold their slim lead.
1. Stanford 317
2. Tucson Ford 315
3. SwimMAC Carolina 198
4. Athens Bulldog Swim Club (192.5)
5. FAST 145