Kylliainen Dominates a Brutal Double, But USC Takes the Weekend at 2013 SMU Classic

The 2013 edition of the SMU Classic is going to go down in history as the fastest version of this historic meet that we’ve ever seen.

The USC Trojans wound up winning an extremely tight final day of competition by just 7.5 points ahead of runners-up Indiana.

We’ll get to that, but first, a discussion about Louisville junior Tanja Kylliainen needs to be had.

After a nation-leading 4:07 in the 400 IM on Friday, Kylliainen swam one of the more impressive in-season doubles that you’ll ever see on Saturday. First, she was a 1:54.99 in the 200 fly, to beat North Carolina freshman Sarah Koucheki in 1:56.26. UNC had two A-finalists in this race at NCAA’s last year, both of whom are back this year, but neither swam the race here. That makes Kouchecki the next great Carolina 200 butterflier in what has become a hotbed event for the Tar Heels.

That swim for Kylliainen broke the Pool Record at history Perkins Natatorium, clearing Jasmine Tosky’s pool record of 1:55.12. She was twelve-and-a-half meters underwater off of every wall, and crushed the back-half – splitting 29.24 and 29.71 despite trailing midway to take the victory.

Not only does that destroy the country’s previous best time this season (which belonged to Koucheki from their dual meet against Texas on Tuesday – she dropped two seconds in two days), but it’s within four-tenths of the NCAA Automatic Qualifying Time, and will again all-but-ensure her an invite to the NCAA Championships already.

Tanja Kylliainen on the blocks at the 2013 SMU Classic before the 200 IM: where she put up her second nation-leading time in a span of about 10 minutes. (Photo: Gisselle Kohoyda)

Tanja Kylliainen on the blocks at the 2013 SMU Classic before the 200 IM: where she put up her second nation-leading time in a span of about 10 minutes. (Photo: Gisselle Kohoyda)

Kylliainen, with nary a moment to catch her breath, and only 5 minutes between back-to-back swims, stepped back onto the blocks with a 1:58.31 to win the 200 IM ahead of UNC’s Cari Blalock (1:59.73) and USC’s Stina Gardell (1:59.80).

That’s another Meet Record for Kylliainen, clearing the old mark held by Elizabeth Beisel, and also taking away Beisel’s seat as the fastest time in the nation.

Kylliainen, who represents Finland internationally but grew up in Maryland, stands just 5’4″ tall, but she’s an absolute powerhouse. That double was no laughing matter: either swim was phenomenal for October on its own, but to do them in back-to-back swims as she did is unbelievable.

But her swims were just a subtext to what wound up being a great team battle as well – the top 5 finishing squads all wound up within 40 points of each other, with the outcome in question all the way to the final race.

Remember that after day 1, USC held a 4.5 point lead ahead of the Hoosiers, with UNC only another 9.5 points back in 3rd place.

Saturday evening began with the 200 medley relay, where USC won in a 1:39.10. Kasey Carlson looked very sharp on this day, splitting a 26.99 on the breaststroke leg, as did Jasmine Tosky with a 24.18 butterfly.

SMU took 2nd in 1:40.08, and Indiana was 3rd in 1:40.74 (all three relays had very good anchors).

Into the 500 free, Indiana effectively tied up the meet. Lindsay Vrooman won the A-Final in 4:38.11. That’s by-far the fastest that she’s been outside of a Big Ten or NCAA Championship meet; in fact, her previous best time outside of those meets was five seconds slower, and that was from a mid-year rest meet (Winter Nationals) last season.

Vrooman turned a big corner last season, and this year as a senior she seems to be in a downhill sprint to what could be an explosive NCAA Championship meet.

UNC’s Stephanie Peacock was 2nd in the 500 in 4:42.55.

Indiana’s Haley Lips also won the B Final in 4:48.44, and with USC not performing all-that-well in the event, the meet was basically tied with 7 events to go.

USC pulled a couple of points ahead in the 200 breaststroke in the overall war, but SMU’s Rachel Nicol won the battle with a 2:10.02: another national-best coming out of Dallas on the weekend. Nicol has been having a great meet (she was 2nd in the 100 breast) earlier, and split under a minute on the 400 medley relay). Indiana’s Bronwyn Pasloski was 2nd in 2:13.70, and Louisville’s Gisselle Kohoyda was 3rd in 2:14.03.

UNC all-but-fell out of the team battle in this race when senior Katie Rechsteiner was DQ’ed in the A-Final. It shouldn’t be overlooked, though, that she touched second in a 2:13.3. That time won’t go on the books, but it would have been her lifetime best.

USC’s Kasey Carlson won the B Final in 2:10.83 – a very good time for a swimmer best known as a sprinter – which is how the Trojans extended their lead.

Indiana took that lead back with authority in the 200 backstroke with another A/B Final sweep. Sophomore Brooklyn Snodgrass won the A in 1:54.08, while junior Cynthia Pammett won the B in 1:56.43 (the second-best time overall). USC was 3rd and 4th, respectively, in the finals, meaning Indiana had a 5.5 point lead with just 5 events to go.

SMU’s Isabellea Arcila was 2nd overall in 1:56.61, and Kendyl Stewart from the aforementioned USC was 3rd in 1:58.37.

North Carolina freshman Hellen Moffitt took 4th in the 200 back in 1:58.89, and Louisville’s Erica Belcher was 5th in 1:59.93.

Diving, though, was all the difference from USC. Each team was allowed one diver, but Indiana and Miami didn’t take advantage. With USC junior Haley Ishimatsu topping the 3-meter, just as she did on the 1-meter, USC vaulted back into an almost insurmountable lead.

A bit of strategy in the 100 free didn’t pay off for the Hoosiers. North Carolina sophomore Ally Hardesty won the race in 49.95, just holding off Nathalie Lindborg of SMU in 49.97.

USC’s Kasia Wilk took 3rd in 50.57, Louisville’s Breann McDowell was 4th in 50.75, and Indiana’s Cynthia Pammett was 5th in 51.09.

Indiana, meanwhile, put their best sprinter in the B Final. In that B Final, SMU’s Isabella Arcila won with the best time of the day in 49.87, but the Hoosiers’ Kait Flederbach was 2nd (8th overall) in 49.99. Had Indiana used Pammett in the B-Final, all else equal, she would have scored exactly the same number of points as Flederbach did, while Flederbach would have scored a few more in the A final than Pammett did. With how close the final margin was, every point counted on Saturday.

Indiana got closer in the 200 fly, and closer again in the 200 IM, leaving themselves a single-digit margin of deficit into the last event (USC had 288 to Indiana’s 284.5).

That meant that if either team won, they’d seal the meet.If Indiana won the final relay, it would be a half-point meet victory.

That wasn’t how things worked out, though. USC got themselves up for what would be their best overall result on the weekend, swimming a 1:30.38 to crush the Meet Record by two seconds. All four swimmers split very well: Kasey Carlson led off in 22.47, Stewart was 2nd in 23.15, Tosky was 3rd in 22.51, and Kasia Wilk anchored in 22.25.

Indiana, meanwhile, was 2nd in 1:31.94. They had some very good splits, including a Flederbach 22.55 on the 2nd leg and a Snodgrass 22.44 on the 3rd leg, but they were in a big hole after the leadoff leg, and just couldn’t quite catch up.

Louisville was 3rd in that race in 1:32.36, which included a 22.8 split from freshman Andrea Kneppers. UNC was 4th in 1:32.65, and SMU was 6th in 1:33.99.

Final Scores:

  1. USC 312
  2. Indiana 304.5
  3. Louisville 280
  4. UNC 276
  5. SMU 275.5
  6. Miami 176

Full meet results available here.

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Tanja, you rock!!!! Goooo Cards!

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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