We are on our third day here in Irvine, California for the USA Swimming Junior National Championships. This is one of the fastest Juniors ever, displaying the depth and talent for the future of USA Swimming. After 7 Meet Records on days 1 and 2 of this meet, and three more went down in five events on Wednesday.
Women’s 400m Freestyle
Danielle Valley (SYS) displayed patience in her race tonight. Stephanie Peters (LINS) was out fast and had control over the field at the half way mark, but then Valley deliberately picked up her tempo to slowly pick away at Peters lead over the next 100, dropping her splits down to 31’s, to seize the lead at the 300m mark.
With her aggressive high turnover tempo, Valley pulled away from the field to take the win in 4:10.55. Peters held off a charging Becca Mann, who has recently returned from Open Water Worlds in Barcelona to take 2nd in 4:12.08 after opening in a 2:03. Mann would take 3rd in 4:12.95.
Erin Emery from the Sandpipers of Nevada would win the B Final in 4:13.95.
Men’s 400m Freestyle
Townley Haas (NOVA) had a commanding control in the men’s 400m freestyle. He led wire-to-wire to set a new meet record here tonight in 3:51.99, breaking Nicholas Caldwell’s 2010 record of 3:52.32. He was a 3:54 at the NCSA Junior Nationals last week in Indy, and that was a very good time. Three-seconds faster, he now sits at 3rd on the all-time 15-16 list behind only Evan Pinion and the great Larsen Jensen.
Haas was challenged on the 3rd one hundred meters by a charging Aidan Burns (SCSC). It looked like Burns would over take Haas as they turned just about even at the 350m mark. But Townley responded to Burns, hammering home his last 50 to finish with the win. Burns was 2nd in 3:53.51, and Sarasota YMCA’s Alex Katz was 3rd in 3:53.78.
This event has been a weakness for the Americans for a while, but with six swimmers in the A-Final, plus two in the B-Final, going 3:55 or better, there’s some health developing at the junior levels. Brock Turner of the Dayton Raiders was 4th in the 400 in 3:55.22, followed by Liam Egan of Crimson Aquatics in 3:55.57. Kevin Litherland was 6th in 3:55.68, followed by his brother Jay Lithlerland in 3:57.29.
The second-fastest time overall came from Jonathan Roberts of the North Texas Nadadores, who won the B Final in 3:53.50.
Women’s 100m Butterfly
Danielle Nack was out fast tonight like she was this morning turning first at 27.16. But off the turn Katie McLaughlin came surging forward, as did Michelle Cefal and Courtney Weaver.
These four women came into the final 15m all together, and it was McLaughlin who reached for the wall to take win over the field at 59.07. McLaughlin was unfortunately DQ’ed after touching the wall first in the 100 freestyle earlier in this meet, but swam tough tonight to earn her first Junior National win.
Cefal came in 2nd, using a phenomenal back-half, in 59.13, with Weaver placing 3rd in 59.34 and Nack 4th in 59.37.
Nicole Stafford of the Dynamo Swim Club won the B Final in 1:00.17. This was a star-studded set of finals that included names like Alyssa Marsh from SwimMAC Carolina, placing 15th overall in 1:01.50, and Ally Howe from PASA winning the C FInal in 1:00.94.
Men’s 100m Butterfly
We saw the meet record go down twice in the morning session, both by Justin Lynch of the Terrapins Swim Team and Santo Condorelli from Bolles.
Only one of those swimmers was able to repeat that performance in finals, as it was Justin Lynch who was a 52.91 to re-break his own Meet Record, though that was still shy of his 52.75 National Age Group Record.
It was Caeleb Dressel who wound up 2nd in 53.31, four-tenths faster than his lifetime best, followed by his teammate Condorelli in 3rd in 53.32. Condorelli wound up with the second-fastest time overall on the day (remember that prelims, A, B, or C finals can be used for selections for Junior Worlds), but he is too old for selection. SwimMAC’s Matthew Josa still has the fastest time for selection, but Dressel now moves into third in the pecking-order for Dubai in this event (he’s already got a spot locked up in the 100 free on the team).
Senior Aaron Whitaker from Indiana took 3rd in this race in 54.48, followed by Gunnar Bentz (53.44), Andrew Seliskar (53.49), and William Glass (53.71). Kyle Gornay of the Redlands Swim Team won the B Final in 54.09.
14-year old Michael Andrew was a 54.99 in prelims, and wound up 13th overall in finals in 55.29.
Men’s 800 Free Relay
Another Meet Record went down in the final event of the night, as Dynamo won the men’s 800 free relay with Jay, Kevin, and Mick Litherland, the triplets, teaming with Gunnar Bentz to go 7:30.87. That bettered a time down in 2009 by a group from SwimMAC Carolina in 7:32.14.
Bentz hammered a 1:50.4 on his second split, even without a great reaction time. All three boys went out fairly hard in their swims, but among them Bentz closed the best.
Their rivals from SwimAtlanta took 2nd in 7:34.27, and the Dayton Raiders were 3rd in 7:34.50.