In the last session of the Athens Sectional meet, Laure Manaudou was apparently satisfied with her 56.51 from prelims in the 100 free, and decided to scratch the final. But she didn’t scratch it to get an early jump back to Auburn, Alabama, where she’s currently training. It was to put full focus on the 200 backstroke, where her prelims swim wasn’t that impressive.
Like a true veteran, Manaudou pulled off just enough to make the final on a tough morning double, and then really turned on the burners in the 200 backstroke final and posted a 2:10.20 to take the win. That’s her 7th-best time ever in this race, and her fastest in the textile era (though she probably would have been faster in 2008 regardless of what suit she was wearing). It also makes her the 2nd-fastest Frenchwoman this year, and places her 20th in the world in 2011.
That swim was the perfect exclamation mark on a comeback meet that can be described as nothing less than everything Manaudou, (coach) Brett Hawke, or any of her fans could have hoped for. What’s possibly most impressive about her swims are that aside from the 100 free final on the last day, she didn’t back her schedule down at all. She swam the full 5 events that will probably become the new normal for her, whereas many swimmers upon return from lengthy retirements start with a hugely scaled-down schedule. She swam well in sprints and middle-distance races, and she swam well on doubles.
From now on, it’s no longer “Manaudou had an awesome meet for someone just coming back from having a child.” She’s set a new standard for herself, which is the expectation that she will swim well, period. And we are pumped about it.
Recap of Manaudou’s results:
50 free – 25.84/2nd
200 free – 1:59.30/1st
100 back – 1:01.12/2nd
100 free – 56.51/Scratched Final
200 back – 2:10.20/1st
A hidden outcome of this meet that was unexpected was the emergence of Georgia junior Megan Romano as a real force. She and Manaudou had some awesome races, and with how Romano has been swimming at this meet, they may have a bit of a rivalry brewing in the southeastern US that could carry through to the London Olympics.
Romano finished her meet just as well as Manaudou did. She busted out a 55.09 100 free, which puts her in great position headed towards the World University Games. That’s the best time of her career, and moves her into the top 50 in the World in 2011. In the 200 backstroke, she took 2nd behind Manaudou in 2:12.95, which lops a second-and-a-half off of her best time coming into the meet. That makes the final tally between the two head-to-head: two wins for Romano and two wins for Manaudou.
Auburn’s Kohlton Norys doubled up on his win in the 50 free from day one by taking the 100 free in 50.16. That’s a season-best time for him, and only a few-tenths off of his career best. As he build towards Nationals, he could go for a pretty swift time based on how well he’s swum in this meet.
Leah Stevens out of Lakeside Swim Team in Louisville stormed the women’s 1500 free in 16:50.46. That time doesn’t seem that impressive, until you consider that she’s only 14. That makes her the 2nd-fastest 13-14 in the country this year behind only Becca Mann, who’s only 13 but set the NAG Record in 11-12’s last year.
Adam Klein won the men’s 200 breaststroke in 2:18.40. While that time isn’t great, Klein historically has huge tapers. For example, last year he was right in the 2:16-high range four weeks out from his taper meet. Then, he didn’t race for a few weeks, and came back at Nationals almost four seconds faster.
15-year old Jimmy Yoder took his second distance free win of the meet by taking the 1500 in 15:46.06. That makes him the fastest 15-year old in the country this year and the second-fastest 15-16 in the country.
Highschooler Preston J enkins won the men’s 200 back in 2:02.61. Jenkins is a top-20 recruit in the class of 2012. In a Micah Lawrence-less 200 breaststroke, Georgia’s Michelle McKeehan won handily in 2:31.93.