This meet has shown a lot of competitive races on the women’s side, but probably the best men’s battle of the meet was in this 200 breaststroke. The top three all went under the Olympic Qualifying Time, but it was the youngest, 21-year old Andrew Willis, who impressed for the victory in 2:09.33. That was on the back of a killer closing 50 after an average first 150. That time launches him to the top of the World Rankings, is easily the best time of his career, and sets a new English Record in the event.
The second Olympic spot went to Michael Jamieson in 2:09.84 – good for 3rd-best in the world, and the first time he’s ever been under 2:10.
In 3rd-place was National Recrod holder Kris Gilchrist in 2:11.73. For the 28-year old Scotsman, this could be the end of a long and successful career where he’s been recognized as one of the great stewards of British Swimming.
The top qualifier from the 100 meter version Daniel Sliwinski placed 4th with a time of 2:12.28. While that’s not a best time, it’s certainly a huge improvement of what he’s been going since the rubber suits have gone away. The other 100m qualifier Craig Benson failed to make it past the semi’s of this race.
On the women’s side, Britain’s great butterfly group continued to excel, led in victory by Ellen Gandy in 2:06.01. That’s the second-fastest swim in the world this year, with the best also belonging to her from the New South Wales Championships in February.
Jemma Lowe was disappointed to miss the team in the 100 fly, but took solace knowing that she’s a 200 butterflier at heart. She took 2nd in this race in 2:06.37, which ranks 2nd in the world this year. What was great about this swim is the way she finished the race.
When we saw her last swim the 200 fly at the Austin Grand Prix in January, she was en route to a great swim, and then was chased down in the final 50 meters by American Cammile Adams. Here, however, she almost did the same to Gandy – Lowe closed in a split of 33.9, which is more than two seconds better than her opponent did. Of course, Lowe’s closing split of 35.1 was one of the worst of her career – she’s usually a very good finisher as well.
As evidence of the youth in British swimming, all 8 of the finalists in this race were born in the 1990’s.
In the third of three finals on Wednesday, the British men continued to struggle their way through the sprint freestyles. They have earned only one Olympic sprint medal in the 112 years of events (a silver in the 100 in 1964), and it doesn’t appear as though that trend will change this year. They didn’t earn any individual spots based on the finals swims, but the top four times from the three rounds did lock up relay spots for London.
Veteran Simon Burnett took the National Title with a 49.33, and James Disney-May took 2nd in 49.48. Disney-May is a very young sprinter (only 19) working with the guru Brett Hawke at Auburn, and down the line he could be the man to break the British dry-spell. Craig Gibbons went a lifetime best of 49.49 for 3rd, and former Auburn Tiger (now back training in the UK) Adam Brown marked a 49.51.
Those four have guaranteed themselves slots at the 2012 Olympics on the 400 free relay, though as many as two more could be awarded at the discretion of British Swimming. The next in line is middle-distance star Robbie Renwick, who has already qualified for the Olympics. No Liam Tancock in this race (he swam on the relay at World’s), and Craig Turner has yet to qualify (he was 7th in 50.13).
As for individual swims, the winner Burnett said after the race that he was not interested in trying again at June’s ASA National Championships to make the qualifying time of
Unlike the men’s relay, the British women are coming together quite spectacularly. The top seed headed into finals will be Fran Halsall, who was 4th in this 100 at World’s, with a 53.83. That’s the 2nd-best time in the world this year. Amy Smith will be 2nd with a 54.27, which is her lifetime best.
A pair of teenagers took 3rd-and-4th, with Rebecca Turner (54.71) and Jessica Lloyd (54.95) bringing some youth to the battle. Also in contention for relay spots are Caitlin McClatchey (55.07) and Jessica Sylvester (55.54). There’s going to be a lot of heat gunning for the guaranteed relay spots in this final, though this is one where the Brits can probably afford to take 6 swimmers for this race.
Notably, in prelims of this race Gemma Spofforth, who was a pretty good short-course freestyler at Florida, placed 56th with a 57.80.
All of the contenders in the men’s 200 back made it safely through to finals, with the top seed being Bath’s Calum Jarvis as the only swimmer under two-minutes in 1:59.88. That’s easily his best time, but it will take another second-and-a-half drop to meet the standards needed to qualify for the Olympics. Chris Walker-Hebborn has to be the favorite after cruising to a 2:00.26 with a clear-cruise through the final 50, but Marco Loughran (who was tied for 3rd in 2:00.33) is also capable of getting under the standard.
The most notable swim out of the international finals was a 54.14 win from Denmark’s Jeanette Ottesen in the women’s 100 free. The co-World Champion hasn’t swum this race since December’s Duel in the Pool, and has to be pleased with that mark in-season.
In 2nd in that race was Germany’s Daniela Schreiber in 54.76 and former Cal swimmer Hannah Wilson in 54.89. Notably down in 8th-place, 14-year old Lithuanian Ruta Meilutyte took 8th in 56.26. That, combined with her 55.57 from prelims are the two fastest times in the history of her country. The British-trained Meilutyte, who blew the field away in the 100 breaststroke, has great speed ala Jessica Hardy. It will be exciting to see if she works towards developing an IM as she matures, or if she sticks to the sprint free/breaststroke duet.
Poland’s Radoslaw Kawecki took the international men’s 200 back title in 1:58.34. Markus Deibler was the only swimmer under two minutes in the men’s 200 IM with a 1:59.97.
Rikke Moller-Pedersen gave Denmark their second victory on the day with a win in the women’s 200 breaststroke in 2:25.54. Spain’s Martina Garcia was 2nd in 2:26.00. Both of those times are in the top-4 world wide this season.