Day 1 is in the books at Short Course Nationals, and despite the lack of many of USA-Swimming’s biggest names, there was absolutely no sense of disappointment in Columbus.
Women’s 200 free relay
USC freshman Kasey Carlson was brought to Los Angeles to be the last piece of the puzzle for the Trojans. They needed a lockdown breaststroker, and they would suddenly become the most powerfully versatile team in the country. On day 1 at Nationals, she proved that she could offer a lot more than that to her teammates when she led off the 200 free relay in a great time of 22.42. This makes her the second-fastest freshman freestyler in the country. USC ended up winning the relay in 1:29.57, just barely out-touching Cal, who finished in 1:29.60. USC’s mark is easily a new school record.
More impressive than either of these relays perhaps was the third-place relay from Palo Alto Aquatics. That’s because the Palo Alto relay was made up of 4 high school swimmers, who touched in 1:30.15. USA-Swimming has not updated their National Age Group records in over a year, but the foursome of Madeline Schaefer, Ally Howe, Sarah Liang and Jasmine Tosky bettered the 15-18 mark by nearly 2.5 seconds. The only thing that keeps them from owning that record is that Howe, who split a 22.56, is only 14! This group has another year together, and could really do some amazing things at the age group level and beyond.
Men’s 200 free relay
The USC men won the 200 free relay and in the process set a school record in 1:17.90. They were led by a 19.44 from Vlad Morozov to start the race and a 19.27 from Frenchman Clement Lefert, who usually specializes in longer distances but showed that he has some serious chops in the sprints also.
The highest-finishing all American relay was Josh Schneider’s team from SwimMAC that was second overall in 1:18.7 Schbeider split a 19.22 on the second leg. Nathan Adrian and an all American Cal squad were second. Despite finishing only 4th in the individual 50 free prelims, Nathan Adrian led off for the Golden Bears in the fastest split of the event at 19.05, which foreshadowed big things for later in the meet.
Women’s 500 free
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: there’s nothing worse than a bad 500 race, and there’s nothing better than a great one. This race was one of the great ones. USC’s Haley Anderson, Ohio State’s Sam Cheverton, and Bonnie Brandon, a 16-year old from Colorado (what’s in the water out there, anyways?) battled the whole race. This race looked more like a track race than a swimming race, as time after time Anderson was challenged. Brandon, Cheverton, and a small handful of other swimmers kept pushing close to her only to be fought off time after time. Ultimately, Anderson led the race wire-to-wire and finished in 4:38.54, with Brandon second in 4:38.69 and Cheverton third in 4:39.71.
Men’s 500 free
If it’s any indication of where American distance swimming is, four out of the top six finishers in the men’s 500 free are foreigners. It was also as much an indication of how strong USC’s distance group was, as three of those top 6 swim for either the NCAA or USA-Swimming version of the Trojans. This includes Brit Richard Charlesworth, who finished second in 4:17.88. The winner of the race was American Michael Klueh, who has been relatively quiet on the national scene for a little while, who finished in 4:14.22.
This race also demonstrated the healthy future for American distance swimming, as the fourth place finisher was Nicholas Caldwell from the Sarasota YMCA. The University of Florida commit touched in 4:18.04, which is one of the best high school times we’ve seen in a while. The National High School record is 4:16.3, which was set all the way back in 1983 by Jeff Kostoff: the greatest junior distance swimmer ever.
Women’s 200 IM
USC’s Katinka Hosszu scored the first international victory of the Championship by winning the women’s 200 IM in a fantastic time of 1:53.47. This crushes the fastest NCAA time in the nation this year, and is better than the time Julia Smit won NCAA’s with last year. She could make a serious run at Smit’s NCAA record of 1:52.31. Speaking of Smit, the post-grad finished second as the top American in 1:54.78. The fast-rising 15 year old Missy Franklin, who will be the USA’s youngest representative at the upcoming Dubai World Championships, was third in 1:55.32.
Men’s 200 IM
We got our first glimpse at the newly-crowned USA-Swimming Male Swimmer of the Year in the 200 IM, when Ryan Lochte won another National Championship in 1:42.60. He trailed Austria’s Markus Rogan headed into the final 50, but finished in 24.91 to wrench away the victory. Rogan’s final mark was 1:42.94. These two will square off again in Dubai, where Rogan could have an advantage on a meters course.
Women’s 50 free
The women’s 50 free continued the progression of Jessica Hardy from a sprint breaststroker to just a sprinter, as she took second in 22.18. She will be among the lead contenders for a medal at World’s in two weeks in both sprint freestyles. Madeline Schaeffer, the 17-year old, equalled that mark, and both were just out-touched by former Georgia Bulldog Kara Lynn Joyce in 22.17. The difference in this race came on the blocks, where Joyce had a .69 second reaction time to the.73 and .72 of Hard and Schaeffer, respectively.
Missy Franklin continued to show her versatility by finishing fourth in 22.33. Franklin, Joyce, and Hardy will likely team with Natalie Coughlin to make the American 400 free sprint relay in Dubai.
Men’s 50 free
The most anticipated race of the night, and maybe the whole meet, was the men’s 50 free. It was the first short course yards rematch between Josh Schneider and Nathan Adrian, since Schneider pulled the upset victory at NCAA’s last year. Add to that Matt Grevers, the biggest man in swimming today, Vlad Morozov, the young Russian who holds the National High School record, Simon Burnett, the British sprint king, and even an appearance from Ryan Lochte (though the 50 isn’t one of his better events).
In the end, Adrian defended his long course title and touched in 19.00. William Copeland, a post-grad who trains with Cal, surprised the field to finish second in 19.21, supporting the notion that sprinters tend to get better with age. Grevers, the top overall qualifier for finals, was third in 19.30, followed by Schneider (19.32) and Morozov (19.33). Morozov doesn’t yet have the physical maturity (or “old man strength” as I like to call it) to take out the best, but as he ages, imagine the damage he can do given that he already blows away the competition off of the blocks with an almost unbelievable .57 reaction time.
Though the Adrian-Schneider dual wasn’t the ultimate battle at this meet (and in fact nobody really challenged Adrian), the two will get to show off again in Dubai, where they will be joined by a full-force French sprint group and Brazilian Cesar Cielo–Adrian’s other, bigger rival.
Women’s 400 medley relay
USC took their third relay victory of the night in 3:32.20, thanks to a women’s foursome of Presley Bard, Kasey Carlson, Lyndsay De Paul, and Christel Simms. De Paul went an unbelievable split of 50.78 in the 100 fly, and she looks to be untouchable in the butterfly events this year. The Cal women took top American honors by finishing second in 3:34.87.
Men’s 400 medley relay
Ohio State really broke out the potential they showed in the long course season to break USC’s stranglehold on the relays. The host Buckeyes won the race in 3:10.07, the best NCAA time of the season so far. They got the race off to a great start thanks to a 46.15 from Andrew Elliot, which is by over as second the fastest time in the NCAA this season, and knocks of Lochte’s Minneapolis Grand Prix time as the best in the Nation overall this season. Josh Schneider and SwimMAC picked up another relay silver in 3:10.28.