Arkady Vyatchanin has been a regular on the U.S. Grand Prix circuit, attending every event so far and scoring in every possible backstroke race at each of the series’ 5 stops.
But the former Russian Olympian seems to be just now hitting his stride. Vyatchanin has been continually heating up over the past months, culminating in a gigantic swim in his very last event at last weekend’s Charlotte Grand Prix.
Vyatchanin showed up to the final day in Charlotte with a daunting task. In the 200 backstroke, he would take on the defending Olympic gold medalist Tyler Clary in his home pool.
But, undaunted, Vyatachanin produced what is likely his best swim of the year so far, dropping a crazy 1:55.33 to not just win but blow away the Grand Prix field.
Vyatchanin was fearless, blasting the front half of his race to open up nearly a two-second lead at the 100 mark. His 100 split was 55.64, which would have gotten him into the top 8 overall in the 100 back – and keep in mind that this split was to his feet at the 100 turn.
Going out that fast was a gamble, especially with a dominant mid-distance man like Clary behind him, but Vyatchanin apparently knew what he was doing. Not only did he hold Clary off, he actually outsplit the SwimMAC star over the final 100 meters 59.69 to 59.97.
Vyatchanin previously represented Russia at the Olympic Games, but is now in search of a new country. The loss of his speed look significant for the Russians, though, as Vyatchanin would have won the 200 back at Russian Nationals last week by almost two full seconds. (Once again, his 100 split to a turn would have netted him top 8, placing 6th in Russia).
And Vyatchanin isn’t just the most red-hot backstroker on the Grand Prix Circuit right now. He might be the most on-fire swimmer, period. Vyatchanin has won a pair of backstroke races at each of the past three Grand Prix meets to move up to second overall in the Grand Prix points standings. In addition, he’s scored 30 of his 42 points over the three most recent Grand Prixs and is just 4 points behind Conor Dwyer for the overall points championship, which will be decided next month in Santa Clara.
If the trend continues for Vyatchanin, his swims may just keep getting better, a scary thought for the competition.
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