Nationals 2010 Day 3: Preview

This meet has lived up to the hype, and more. Every race has been a thrill, despite the lack of National and World Records that we had become accustomed to seeing in every heat and final.

Day 3’s top headlines:

1) Soni vs. Hardy part 1 – Hardy is the best 50m breaststroker in the world (although Soni is no slouch there). Soni is the best 200m breaststroker in the world (an event Hardy doesn’t swim). In between the two falls the 100. We know this: one of them is likely the best 100m breaststroker in the world (with due respect to Australian Leisel Jones, who holds the world’s current top time). We just aren’t certain which one it is. Should be the showdown of the meet.

2) Splash ‘n’ dash – The most exciting , and biggest crapshoot, race in swimming, especially in a long course with the absence of a turn. Dive. Swim. Touch. That’s all this race comes down to, and anything can happen. Both the men’s and women’s 50m freestyles will be competed on Day 3. On the men’s side, swim afficionados everywhere are on the edge of their seats to see if Josh Schneider can turn his short course success (NCAA champion over the feared Nathan Adrian, who has the 5th best LC time in the world this year) into long course victories. Meanwhile, Cullen Jones, the American record holder, is out to prove that he is capable of balancing his Make-a-Splash program with world-class swimming performances.

For the women, in a meet that has been a showcase for the youth talent, the 50 free is the complete antithesis. The top 7 seeds are all 22 or older and out of the NCAA ranks. But lest we forget about the young guns: the number 8 seed, 15 year old Missy Franklin, will be looking to crash the parter.

3) Women’s 400 IM- If you thought the 200 IM was a fun race, most of these women specialize in the 400 version. Katie Hoff and Elizabeth Beisel will be chasing 200m champ Ariana Kukors (all three currently sit in the top 10 in the world). Caitlin Leverenz, who was a huge surprise for silver in the 200 IM, also is better at the 400, and will be looking to get in on the medal stand. With Jasmine Tosky, NCAA Champ-and former SC world record holder- Julia Smit, and Dagny Knutson also in the mix, the winner of this race is likely to emerge as the top time in the World.

Predictions

Women’s 100 breast

  1. Rebecca Soni
  2. Jessica Hardy
  3. Justine Mueller

Breakdown: This race will be closer than it looks on paper (Soni has gone a 1:05.90 this season to Hardy’s 1:07.72), but Soni has shown incredible speed this season, to go along with her 200m prowess, including having the second ranked time in the world in the 50. Hardy, however, was better at their last taper (summer 2009), when she broke Soni’s World Record. You will recall that Soni broke the mark at the 2009 World Championships, while Hardy, who returned from a doping suspension too late for qualifying, bested that mark by half a second at the U.S. Open. Soni is one of the few swimmers in the world this year, however, who have a legitimate chance at breaking a world record (although most believe it is more likely in the 200 than the 100). I think Soni is too good to be beaten. After those two, it’s a wide open race. Mueller is too close to that elite group in too many races to let this one, her best, slip out of her reach.

Men’s 100 butterfly

  1. Michael Phelps
  2. Tyler McGill
  3. Chris Brady

Breakdown: Phelps just wins butterfly events, and that’s all there is to it. Tyler McGill and Chris Brady, among the contenders, are the two swimmers whose true specialties are in this event, and I think they will have worked their full focus for the weekend around this event. McGill has the 8th best time in the world this year, and will give Phelps just enough of a push to get Phelps to a world-best time. Brady hasn’t swum much since NCAA’s, which makes me a little nervous, but is only swimming two events (the 100 free on Friday is his other), so he’ll be ready to go.

Women’s 50 free

  1. Jessica Hardy
  2. Amanda Weir
  3. Missy Franklin

Breakdown: Ok, but really, do predictions here actually mean anything in this race? Hardy has been working really hard over the last year to improve her performance in the sprint freestyle, and I think it pays off here with a sub-25 second time. Amanda Weir has the second best American time this year. I think the youthful igonrance of 15-year old Missy Franklin will work to her benefit in a race loaded with vets. Also look out for superstar Vollmer; Magnuson, who already has a title under her belt; Lara Jackson; Kara Lynn Joyce; freestyle sprint specialist Madison Kennedy; Natalie Coughlin lurking down at the 17th seed; NCAA freshman of the year Lauren Perdue…heck, look out for everybody else. If you’re going to watch a prelims the whole meet, this is the one to watch.

Men’s 50 free

  1. Nathan Adrian
  2. Josh Schneider
  3. Garret Weber-Gale

Breakdown: If this season’s performances thus far is any indicator, this race will be a little easier to figure out than the women’s race. It should come down to 4 swimmers: Adrian, Schneider, Weber-Gale, and Jones. I left Jones as the odd-man-out because, frankly, it can’t be easy to maintain a consistent training routine with all of the travelling he has done this year. Adrian avenges his NCAA loss, although Schneider announces himself as a world player with this race. Weber-Gale has been one of the best in this event for a while now, and should nab a medal here. If anybody’s going to crash the party, you can never count out the 6’7 powerhouse Matt grevers in a 50m race.

Women’s 400 IM

  1. Ariana Kukors
  2. Elizabeth Beisel
  3. Caitlin Leverenz

Breakdown: As I mentioned in the “top headlines” section, most of the top women’s swimmers in the US right now are 400 IM’ers. Read above to check out all of the contenders, but needless to say the field is loaded. With how good Kukors was in the 200, I can’t imagine her not being on top form in the 400 as well. Beisel was the US’s top finisher in this event at last year’s World Championships (5th), and at only 17 years old can only expect to improve. Wouldn’t be surprised if she pulled off the win here. I’ve liked Leverenz in this event since before the meet, and feel even better about my pick after seeing her amazing performance in the 200 IM.

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About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of SwimSwam.com. 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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