The following report was contributed by Christina Wright.
While the sun dipped below the horizon this evening in Santa Clara, California, the George F. Haines International Swim Center’s pool was ablaze with distance dynamos. Night one of the 2013 Santa Clara Grand Prix featured the non-Olympic distance events: four heats of the men’s 800, and three heats of the women’s 1500.
Women’s 1500 Free
The women’s 1500 was comprised of an international field, true to the meet’s name, with Canadian standout Tabitha Baumann, 17, touching first with a respectable 16:37.03. Baumann recently took first place in the same event at the Canadian World Championship Trials, though she didn’t qualify for their World Championship team. Baumann is from the famed Baumann family; her father is Olympic champion Alex, and her brother Ashton made the Canadian World Championship team in the 200 breaststroke – Tabitha bucks the family trend a little by going after these distance freestyles.
Susana Escobar , the 25-year-old Olympian from Mexico, claimed second place with a 16:40.53, and Brazil’s Carolina Bilich Queiroz, another 17-year old, rounded out the field with a 17:00.42.
Men’s 800 Free
The meet record in the men’s 800 didn’t stand a chance thanks to US Olympian and Michigan senior-to-be Connor Jaeger; the 22-year-old clocked a 7:50.14, almost two seconds faster than the previous benchmark set by Korea’s Taehwan Park.
Remember that Jaeger is still relatively new as a distance swimmer, and up until the Charlotte Grand Prix, most of his best swims in this event were splits en route to a 1500. In Charlotte he was a 7:53, and now he’s been 7:50.
Australia’s teenager distance star, 17-year-old Mack Horton, took second with a 7:59.64. That’s a best time for him as well, and the first time he’s been under eight minutes. Canadian Olympic distance medalist Ryan Cochrane turned in a 7:59.71 for third.
Cochrane is the defending World Championship silver medalist in the event and one of the fastest in history. Though this was well off of his time from Worlds Trials (about 16 seconds slower), his times during this part of the year are wildly inconsistent and usually result in a good season-finish regardless.
Cochrane’s training partner at Island Swimming, Alex Page, took 4th in 8:06.47, followed by American Michael Klueh and a third Island Swimming (and Cal) swimmer Jeremy Bagshaw.
Full, live meet results available here.