Day 4 in Palo Alto was missing many of the sport’s biggest names, but what it lacked in star-power it made up for in some great racing.
Men’s 100 free
This race came down to a battle between a pair Longhorns: Garrett Weber-Gale and Jimmy Feigen. Feigen used a superior start to take a tiny lead early, and flipped .02 ahead of Weber-Gale. The experience of the 25-year old Weber-Gale, however, kicked in coming off of the turn, and he ended up fighting back to take the victory in 48.87 ahead of Feigen in 48.99. The pair were the only two throughout any of the finals who went under 49 seconds.
In 3rd place was World Champs relay swimmer Scot Robison in 49.06, followed by Tucson’ Ford’s Matt Grevers in 49.22. Grevers, who won the 100 back title earlier in the meet, seems to be running out of steam a little bit in this meet, as I would have expected him to go under 49 as well based on his earlier swims.
With Texas’ Dax Hill (50.57) moving up to the A-Final by way of a scratch, Cal’s Tom Shields won the B-Final in 49.77.
Women’s 200 fly
Longhorn Aquatics’ Kathleen Hersey continued her domestic dominance of this 200 fly with her 4th-straight summer-nationals title in a time of 2:07.61 (excluding the 2008 Olympic Trials). That swim is actually a few-tenths faster than she went at Worlds last week, though it’s still off of her season-best time from Santa Clara (which was 8-tenths faster).
The only other swimmer to go under 2:10 was Trojan’s Lyndsay DePaul in 2:09.47, which is the 3rd-best time of her career and puts her in the top 30 in the world in 2011. That’s an impressive swim for her given that her focus in training has likely been on the shorter 100 fly, which is swum with an entirely different veracity and tempo, for the World University Games that begin in just over a week.
Teresa Crippen, the US’ other participant in this event at Worlds, took 3rd in 2:10.08. She looked really solid until the last 50 (which was the slowest in the field) dropped her off of the pace set by DePaul and Hersey (the two fastest finishers in the field). In 4th was American-born but French-trained Kim Vandenberg in 2:10.14.
As we’ve seen more than once on the women’s side in this meet, a B-finalist put up a top-5 time in this event, with Western Kentucky’s Claire Donahue winning that heat in 2:10.16. Donahue earlier in the meet took silver in the 100 fly.
Men’s 200 IM
Lake Forest/Gator Swim Club’s Conor Dwyer cleared his career-best in the 200 IM for the second time of the day to take the win in 1:59.19. Dwyer, who has always been a back-half swimmer in this IM, pushed his breaststroke leg even harder than normal and outpaced all of the field (except for the breaststroke extraordinaire Clark Burckle) on that leg to give himself a comfortable victory.
The runner-up was former UNC star Tyler Harris, who is now training with Trojan (who isn’t these days?) in 2:00.91. His time with Dave Salo seems to have been well-spent, as he managed to cut a second-and-a-half off of his career-best over the course of this meet. If he can get a bit more front-half speed on this IM (his back half looked really good), then he could be a threat to make some international squads after Phelps retires in 2012. The afore-mentioned Burckle took 3rd in 2:01.10.
David Nolan, who will be a freshman at Stanford next year, was the top-finishing collegian in 2:01.14, though that’s about 8-tenths off of what he swam at Jr. Pan Pac’s last year. He was dead even with Dwyer through the front half of this race, but his biggest weakness was exposed on the breaststroke leg. Have no fear, Cardinal fans, because this weakness (along with some seeming endurance problems – his freestyle leg wasn’t great either) won’t be as big of an issue in a 25 yard pool with the added walls and pullouts. Cory Chitwood, who was the national runner-up in this race at NCAA’s last year, tied with Robert Margalis in 5th at 2:01.24.
Women’s 200 backstoke
After a wholly lackluster prelims session in this race, the young Americans really turned on the jets in this 200 backstroke final. Without world-leader Missy Franklin in the mix, this title was pretty open, and a trio teenagers were all vying for the title. At the wall, it was the relative-experience of Elizabeth Beisel, who put her competition away just before the final flags, that took the win in 2:08.81. That’s just about exactly a second slower than she was at Worlds, but is still a great swim. The swimmers she out touched were a pair of high school seniors that are a part of the formidable class of 2012 backstroking group: Liz Pelton (2:09.08) and Bonnie Brandon (2:09.91).
The rest of the field was well back of the leaders, but in 3rd was Georgia’s Megan Romano (2:12.07), Crow Canyon’s Madison White (2:12.89 – another high schooler), and Katie Hoff (2:12.96).
Men’s 800 free relay
SwimMAC Carolina, led by a 1:49.76 anchor from Texas commit Kip Darmody, took the win in this men’s 800 free relay in 7:20.55. Darmody, who had one of only two sub-1:50 splits in the field, was able to chase down and out-touch Stanford’s anchor Aaron Wayne (7:20.62). If Darmody can show that kind of nose for the touch at the NCAA level, it will be huge for the national title hopes of the Longhorns, who had a bit of trouble finishing some of their free relays (the 400, mainly) at NCAA’s last year.
Stanford’s relay was led off by an impressive, and somewhat shocking, 1:49.53 from Morgan Priestley. That’s a career-best time for him (by more than a second from what he had done prior to this week) and he’s shaping up to be a big contributor for a Stanford team that is graduating a whole lot headed into the 2011-2012 season.
That 2nd-place finish for Stanford was a big one, as with the win they would have maintained their lead in the team scoring for the 3rd-straight day over defending champions Tucson Ford. As it is, though, Ford has moved out into a very modest 2.5-point lead. Stanford has really been hanging in this meet on the strength of their relays, as they had two finish ahead of Tucson Ford’s A in the men’s 800.
Third and 4th are probably no longer being contested, with SwimMAC Carolina and the Athens Bulldogs solidly in control of those positions. There’s still some jockeying to be done for top 5, though, as Longhorn Aquatics has now taken a slight edge over Cal Aquatics.
1. Tucson Ford 605.5
2. Stanford 603
3. SwimMAC Carolina 439
4. Athens Bulldog Swim Club 293.5
5. Longhorn Aquatics 255
6. Cal Aquatics 245