Day 2 at the 2012 Jr. Pan Pac Championships was high-flying and record-rewriting. Race-after-race was full of fantastic times and fantastic racing, to the point that it was a serious challenge to pick the proper headline. For anyone who denies that this meet is a major event, check out the results below for all the evidence you’ll need.
Women’s 100 Free – Final
If the name Simone Manuel isn’t already etched in your personal swimming encyclopedia, now would be a good time to learn about her. The 16-year old out of the First Colony Swim Team in Houston already put up a best time in the 200 free in this meet, and now did so again in this 100 with a 54.80. That’s the second-fastest time by a 15-16 year old in American history, behind only one Missy Franklin. The swim jumps her ahead of two Olympic gold medalists
Manuel, if she continues to swim this well (she’s every bit as good in yards), will easily be the top recruit in the high school class of 2014.
She ended up running away from Australia’s Ami Matsuo, who is about as good of a sprinter as is Manuel. The two flipped in a dead-split at 26.60, but Manuel pulled away coming back to the finish. Matsuo took 2nd in 55.36. Another 16-year old, American Cierra Runge, took 3rd in 55.43. After a great Junior Nationals last week, that’s another two-tenths of a second drop for her. She’s another member of the sprint-rich high school junior class.
Chelsea Chenault, with a 200 free championship under her belt already at this meet, won the B-Final in 55.26: the second-fastest time overall.
Men’s 100 Free – Final
Just like in the women’s race, the future of men’s sprinting in the United States shone through in the 2nd race of the session. Future Georgia Bulldog Matt Ellis took the win in 49.24, which is a new Meet Record. It also moves him to third on the all-time USA Swimming 17-18 list, behind only Michael Phelps and Vlad Morozov (and only two-tenths back at that).
Australia’s Alexander Graham took 2nd in 49.71, with another American Jack Conger breaking the 50-second barrier for the first time with a 49.84 for third-place overall. Australia’s Andrew Digby was 4th in 49.90 as the only other swimmer to go sub-50.
Australia’s Kenta Hirai was 5th in 50.31; these sprint freestyles is a place where the Japanese have struggled, but Hirai fits very much into the mold of his elder countrymate Takuro Fujii.
For one of the few times in this meet so far, the Americans’ depth didn’t pay off with a B-Final win. Australia’s Regan Leong took that victory in 49.53 (also under the old Meet Record) and Kyle Darmody was 10th overall in 50.76.
Women’s 100 Breast – Final
This women’s 100 breaststroke final was the best battle of the meet so far. The outcome of the race, especially with the stroke cycle of breaststroke, was a total mystery until times flashed on the scoreboard. Then it was revealed that Canada not only took their first event title of the meet, but they took the top two spots. Kierra Smith and Mariya Chekanovych finished just .01 seconds apart in 1:08.54 and 1:08.55 for gold and silver, respectively.
Smith being able to get her fingers on the wall will fit in well at Minnesota; this race was somewhat reminiscent of the nail-biter finish that her soon-to-be-teammate Haley Spencer had in the 200 breast at NCAA’s in 2011, where she too took the win. For both swimmers, who will return to immediately begin their college careers (Chekanyovych swimming for her father at Division II Simon Fraser), the ability to push aside the distractions of a final Hawaiian fling and race like this speaks volumes of their mental toughness.
Even after these two, there wasn’t a lot of separation for the rest of the field either. Japan’s Miku Kanasashi was 3rd in 1:08.63, and the top-finishing American Annie Zhu was 4th in 1:08.84. Those are best times all-around for the top four, aside from Kanasashi.
American Sarah Haase and Australian Taylor McKeown tied for 5th in 1:10.03, though both probably would have liked to be into single-digits in the seconds column. Georgia Bohl, the 14-year old daughter of legendary Aussie coach Michael Bohl, was 7th in 1:10.05.
Anne Lazor won the B-Final in 1:09.80, and Allie Szekely was 12th overall in 1:11.03.
Men’s 100 Breast – Final
Japan’s Akihiro Yamaguchi, no surprise, dominated the field in the men’s 100 breaststroke. He wasn’t quite as fast as his Japanese National High School Record from last week, but he did set the Meet Record with a 59.85. That broke his own record from prelims by 8-tenths.
Following in the Japanese breaststroking tradition, his countrymate Kazuki Kohinata was 2nd in 1:02.45, and Buster Sykes from Australia was 3rd in 1:03.32. The Americans continue to struggle in this race, and unlike the sprints don’t have a lot of young talent in the junior ranks, and this was the first time they missed the podium in this meet. The top finisher was Eric Ronda in 1:03.52. His 1:03.2 from prelims was a best time by half-a-second.
Women’s 400 IM – Final
After a very good day 1 in Honolulu, Becca Mann was great on day 2. She crushed her best time in the 400 IM to take a win and Meet Record in 4:39.76. That took four-tenths off of the 2009 record of Dagny Knutson.
This race was very close after the breaststroke leg, but Mann’s closing kick, which is where she’s so good, of 1:01.46 pulled her away from the field for the win. She really needs to improve through the middle two legs of her race – her breaststroke isn’t good enough to make up for a 1:13 split on the backstroke – but she’s only 14. Having big things to improve on are good to have for 14-year old phenoms.
This is a new National Age Group Record as well, breaking the 4:39.82 set by Katie Hoff in 2004, just as Hoff was coming into her own as a swimming star, much like Mann is now.
Australia’s Keryn McMaster was 2nd in 4:41.63. That’s a huge four-second drop for her, clearing her previous best time from the 2010 version of this meet (when she was only 14). That’s similar to what we saw from American Chelsea Chenault in winning the 200 free on Thursday – she also hadn’t been a best time since 2010.
American Celina Li, the top IM’er in the class of 2013, was 3rd here in 4:42.17. Erika Seltenreich-Hodgson from Canada placed 4th in 4:43.97.
Men’s 400 IM – Final
The big-time hits kept coming on Friday when North Baltimore’s Chase Kalisz won in a huge Meet Record of 4:12.59. That broke Mitch Larkin’s Meet Record by more than three seconds. He was already third on the all-time 17-18 list, but with this three-second personal best, he now is only four-tenths behind the great Tom Dolan for 2nd. Of course, the leader in that event is Michael Phelps, who is Kalisz’ training partner at North Baltimore, though Phelps is now retired and Kalisz will start at Georgia when he returns to the mainland. With this serving as the last major long course meet of the summer, he now moves into 14th place in the 2012 rankings.
He split a stunning 1:09.2 on the breaststroke leg of this swim. Even at the Olympics, only one swimmer in the world split under 1:10 on their breaststroke leg (Thiago Pereira). He still maintained his great closing speed, splitting a 58.52 on the last 100 meters that is nearly identical to what Olympic champion Lochte did in London.
With Phelps and Lochte both moving on (Phelps for good, Lochte from this race), it looked like this race was going to be Tyler Clary’s to dominate for the Americans. Kalisz gives some pause to that thought, though. As he revealed at the Austin Elite Invitational (video here), his goal time for the Olympic Trials was “4:12 or faster”. That didn’t happen in Omaha (perhaps mid-race flames a few feet from his face had something to do with that), but he certainly had to have been thrilled with this result.
Nobody else was even in the same stratosphere as he was in this race, as he won by what looked to be more than four body-lengths. (There was a Japanese competitor who was right with him at the finish, but was DQ’ed) The ultimate runner-up was Japan’s Keita Sunama in 4:19.28, and the other American Gunnar Bentz was 3rd in 4:20.11.
800 Free Relays
The American women ran away with the 800 free relay title as the quartet of Simone Manuel, Leah Smith, Cierra Runge, and Chelsea Chenault won in 7:59.06. That was a bit off of their seed (which was aggregated from best times coming into the meet), but they got a good anchor of 1:58.5 from Chenault.
The Australians were 2nd, and the Japanese came home in 3rd.
The Japanese men pulled off a big upset in their 800 free relay, with Takumi Komatsu, Kenta Hirai, Toru Maruyama, and Daiya Seto finishing in 7:18.59. Hirai again was very good in this race with a 1:48.4 on the 2nd leg. That put Japan out in front, and they didn’t look back.
The USA squad of Peter Brumm, Jackson Miller, Chase Kalisz, and Gunnar Bentz were 2nd in 7:19.89. That’s despite a 1:49.28 leadoff from Brumm, which is his best time by half-a-second. Kalisz, coming off of that 400 IM, had a valiant effort of 1:50.4 on the third leg.
Canada took 3rd, surprisingly ahead of Australia, to pull themselves back into the team race a little bit.
1. USA 208.5
2. Australia 146.5
3. Japan 146
4. Canada 110
5. New Zealand 12
6. Hong Kong 1