On the final night of the 2012 Indianapolis Grand Prix, it seemed like most of the field got a huge shot of speed, with a lot of fantastic times coming up on the timing board. That included an emphatic world-best from Michael Phelps, and a new National Age Group Record.
Women’s 200 Fly
Katinka Hosszu still hasn’t come down from her NCAA Championship high, as she rode the taper two-weeks out to a 2:07.58 win in the 200 fly, which ranks her 5th-best in the world this year. I don’t know how high she can place at the Olympics in this event – I think her money is in the 400 IM.
An interesting Twitter-debate jumped up with our friends over at the British Swimming site Pullbouy today. How is Hosszu going to handle the European Championships at the end of May? One might guess that initially she would have just passed them straight-over, perhaps not even leaving the country. But when in February it was announced that her home country Hungary was to be made the new host of the meet (after Antwerp, Belgium backed out), a whole new wrench was thrown into that decision-making process. Will there be pressure from the host country to put on a good show and have one of their biggest stars at the meet? One would guess that after her NCAA Championship taper, it would be foolish for her to do any kind of a rest so close again to London, but could it interrupt her whole plan to even travel? Another USC Trojan, Dimitri Colupaev, will be swimming at Euros for Germany, but he doesn’t have much in the way of an Olympic medal hope on the line either.
American Kathleen Hersey took 2nd in 2:09.92. She looked great on the front-half of this race (out in 1:02.0 – within two-tenths of Hosszu), but the ware of what has been a very long two days of racing for her kicked in with about 80 meters to go in this race. Dana Vollmer had an even bigger fade on the last 50 meters (though she held her race together a bit longer). That 2:09.96 is actually the 2nd-fastest swim of her career, and best since 2007, so that’s a solid training performance for her (she seemed to be rested throughout this meet).
Cal’s Caitlin Leverenz went a 2:11.73 for 4th. That’s easily a best time for her t00; though she doesn’t often swim this event, with over a second improvement since this same period last year, it shows that she’s really ready to move into the class of the world’s elite IM’ers. She has to be building big confidence, as we’ve seen her improve all of these difference races at this meet that sort of add up to a really great IM. As Trials approach, she’ll really focus on turning a great 200 fly, a great 200 back, etc. into one great 200 and 400 IM.
And in 5th-place was Kingfish Aquatic Club 15-year old Madison Wright in 2:11.75 (just .02 behind Leverenz). That’s a best time for her, and puts her among the top 10 15-year olds in the history of USA Swimming. (This is a National Age Group Record that might never go down – It’s held by Mary T. Meagher from back in 1978 at 2:05.96.)
Men’s 200 Fly
So now we know what was up at NCAA’s with Stanford swimmer Bobby Bollier. He’s been so focused on long course, that his short course really went by the wayside. After his 1:56.34 win in the men’s 200 fly on Saturday. That’s the fastest non-championship time of his career, and aside from his swim for silver at last year’s World University Games last year is the best we’ve seen from him in three years. He lost a lot of hype after NCAA’s, but he’s still in the hunt for an Olympic spot in this 200 fly.
Close behind were his two biggest competitors for the second spot in this race behind Phelps. Davis Tarwater was 2nd in 1:58.02 and Tyler Clary was 3rd in 1:58.14.
As for Phelps, he sat out this 200 fly. Just like we saw with the 100 fly in Columbus, this shows that he’s very confident if he’s sitting out Olympic events just 3 months before the upcoming Olympic Trials.
Women’s 100 Breaststroke
It seems that a switch has been flipped, and the Jessica Hardy show is on. After starting off with three very-off swims at this meet, her last three have been nothing short of spectacular. First with a 25.0 in the 50 free on Friday, and now with this 100 breaststroke where she swam a 1:06.12. That’s the best time in the world this year by over half-a-second, and the third-fastest swim of her career. When Hardy is down, she’s way down, but when she’s ripping good times, there are few in the world who are as good as she is.
Amanda Beard, the runner-up in this race, is much the opposite of Hardy. She swam a 1:08.50, which shows an amazing consistency in this race (she hovers often right around this 1:08-mid at in-season meets like this). She’s never going to go the same 1:06 that Hardy is going in-season, but she’s going to be consistently under 1:09 every time out.
18-year old Emma Schoettmer took 3rd in 1:08.90. That’s her best-time, and the best we’ve seen from a high school swimmers since Kasey Carlson in 2009. After the Arizona women got a bit of a disappointing performance from their breaststrokers at this year’s NCAA Championships, she will be a great shot in the arm, and a completing piece, to that young program.
Micah Lawrence and Jamaica’s Alia Atkinson tied shortly behind in 1:08.94. Sweden’s Rebecca Ejdervik was 6th in 1:09.02, and Michelle McKeehan in 1:09.13.
Men’s 100 Breaststroke
Tucson Ford’s Marcus Titus was pleased with his 200 swim on Friday in the finals, and in that race he was only 20th, and only in a 2:17. After this 100, he had to have been ecstatic, as he took the win in 1:00.86. That’s the fastest that he has ever been in-season. Brendan Hansen looked better in this 100 than he did in the 200 to take 2nd in 1:01.04, and Vladislav Polyakov was 3rd in 1:01.48.
Brazilian Felipe Lima was 4th in 1:01.56, and Clark Burckle was 5th in 1:01.74. After dominating his best in the 200 breaststroke, he went another lifetime best in the prelims of this meet (1:01.37). But following pattern, he was slower in finals. He’ll have to focus on fighting through three rounds of this race at Trials.
Women’s 100 Backstroke
There was no Liz Pelton in this 100 back, surprisingly, as she was saving her effort for the next event the 200 IM. That left Missy Franklin to dominate this race in 59.89, which is her best time of the season (by a narrow .03). With consideration of the huge training that we’ve heard that the Colorado Stars have been undergoing, that’s a ridiculously-good mark for her.
Cal’s Stephanie Au, a Hong Kong international, was 2nd in 1:01.30, and Kylie Stewart was 3rd in 1:02.12.
Men’s 100 Backstroke
Nick Thoman had a bit-of-a better race in this 100 than he did in the 200, and took the win in 53.95. That’s a touch slower than he was at Sectionals earlier this month, but a solid time. Cal Aquatics’ David Russell took 2nd in 54.61, which is a really good time for him at this point of the season.
Ryan Lochte, despite falling apart on the finish of Friday’s 200 back, didn’t back down at all on Saturday and swam this 100 back to a 54.75 tie for 3rd with Mathias Gydesen. That was on the front-end of a double with the 200 IM.
Bolles’ Ryan Murphy came in only 5th in this race in 54.96, which is a new 15-16 National Age Group Record, taking down the 55.02 set by Jack Conger last year.
Women’s 200 IM
Cal’s Caitlin Leverenz was the first of two remarkable 200 IM’s on the final day from Indy, as she won in 2:09.71, which is the second-fastest time in the world this year and the second-fastest she’s ever been in the event. Her backstroke, for one, looked much better in this 200 than it did in the longer 400; I’d expect that she’s going to gravitate further-and-further towards this 200 IM for London (between this race and her win and American Record at NCAA’s).
Ariana Kukors took 2nd in 2:10.76 with a great breaststroke leg. Though not as good as Leverenz’s, she’s one of the few swimmers in the US who can hope to keep within touch of Leverenz’s breaststroke splits in the IM’s.
Liz Pelton (2:12.30) and Katinka Hosszu (2:13.14) both were a bit slower than expected, but that’s a sign of the end-of-a-Grand-Prix swim.
Katie Hoff was 6th in 2:14.99, and Missy Franklin won the B-Final in 2:15.82.
Men’s 200 IM
Michael Phelps made the skipping of that 200 fly pay-off at the end of this Grand Prix, with a 1:56.32, world-leading swim in this 200 IM. Every split of this leg screamed “I feel like a monster”. Compare his splits to last year’s World Championships. Obviously he’s not yet in a taper, but his fly leg was nearly identical, and his backstroke leg was very close too. There wasn’t as much pressure on his breaststroke leg in this race (without a tired Lochte to push him, the good breaststrokers were out of the race by the time it got there), which probably led to the better freestyle leg, but the splits are scary-good.
Splits: 25.02 – 29.21 – 34.18 – 27.91. 1:56.32
Worlds: 24.83 – 28.84 – 33.13 – 27.3. 1:54.16
South Africa’s Darian Townsend was 2nd in 1:59.28, and even though that was a good swim for him, he was put away by Phelps on the breaststroke. Lochte, the World Record holder, took 3rd in 1:59.37.
Conor Dwyer took 4th in 2:01.12, and Tyler Clary was 5th in 2:01.17.
Women’s 800 Free
Though it didn’t produce any sort of amazing time, this 800 free was the best race we’ve seen yet this Grand Prix season in the event. Kate Ziegler held the lead for most of the race, but with about 200 meters to go, Gillian Ryan turned on her motor and buzzed past her to an 8:32.49 win.
Ziegler was 2nd in 8:33.86, which is about four seconds slower than she was in Indy last year. That’s been a bit of a theme for her in this meet, though she’s probably had renewed energy in her training the last few months so she might be a tad tired at this meet.
Germantown’s Rachel Zilinskas was 3rd in 8:36.70, and Chile’s Kristel Kobrich was 4th in 8:37.62.
Men’s 1500 Free
This was an awesome race between two of the best high school distance swimming prospects we’ve seen in a while: Matias Koski (headed to Georgia) and Arthur Frayler (headed to Florida). The pair fought back and forth throughout the race, and in the last four turns their splits were never separated by more than a tenth. Frayler held a very slim, .06-second lead on the final length, but Koski got his fingertips to the wall first with a 15:09.17. Frayler took 2nd in 15:09.27.
If this is any sort of indication of the kind of future distance battles we’re going to see in the SEC between these two, get ready for some excitement. The SEC has long been known for their sprint freestylers, but the winds are shifting in the great southeast as they have a really impressive burgeoning distance field shaping up too. Last year, that included the Georgia crew (1650 National Champ Martin Grodzki included); a good young distance swimmer Zane Grothe from Auburn of all places; and LSU’s Craig Hamilton among others.