Day 1 of the swimming portion of the 2011 World University Games in Shenzhen, China with a total of 6 sets of medals awarded. The Americans would go home on day 1 without a gold medal, but they did take home a slew of silvers (4 of the 6 awarded, to be exact).
Women’s 50 fly
China’s Ling Yu started things off the right way for her home crowd fans (in 2009, March of the Volunteers wasn’t played a single time in Belgrade) by winning the women’s 50 fly in 25.98. For Yu, who finished 4th at the World Championships, that misses by .01 the meet record set in 2009, in polyurethane, by Belarus’ Svetlana Khoklova.
Australia’s Marieke Guehrer, who was also a World Championship finalist and perhaps not the favorite despite having the top seed, touched 2nd in 26.24. The bronze medal went to another Aussie: the veteran Alice Mills in 26.53. Mills has won plenty of international medals and accolades, but only one other has come in this race (a bronze from the 2006 Commonwealth Games). She has been an important relay piece for the Dolphins at the last two Olympics.
The USA’s Lyndsay DePaul took 5th in 26.81, with Felicia Lee taking 7th in 27.06. Those are career-best times for both swimmers (though, to be totally straightforward, DePaul has never swum the race, and Lee hasn’t since she was 12).
Men’s 200 fly
After suffering from asthma problems that derailed his World Championships, Laszlo Cseh of Hungary showed us much better form in this 200 fly by winning in 1:55.87, which moves him to 13th in the World Rankings. He must have been feeling good to blow by the USA’s Bobby Bollier (1:56.06), who showed at US Nationals two weeks ago that he is a very strong closer in this race. Bollier’s mark moves him to 15th in the world, which has to be a confidence builder for him as he’s just a year away from finishing his collegiate career and applying for APA money (which rewards top-16 rankings).
Japan also earned their first medal in this race thanks to a bronze from Hidemasa Sano in 1:56.81. Kazuya Kaneda took 4th, also from Japan, in 1:57.01. Japan continues to build depth in their National program…everywhere but in the crucial freestyle events.
Mark Dylla of Georgia finished 5th in 1:58.00.
Men’s 200 breaststroke
In the year of the “gold medal,” where we saw two ties for gold at the World Championships for the first time ever, resulting in a record number of gold medals being awarded, it’s only fitting that we would see at least one championship tie at the World University Games. New Zealand’s Glenn Snyders and Lithuania’s Giedrius Titenis both had breakout swims in Shanghai in early rounds, only to fall short of the podiums in the finals, finally got their hardware when they tied for first-touch in 2:10.85.
It’s not surprising that a Japanese swimmer made the medal podium, as they have the deepest breaststroke pool in the world right now. Kazuki Otsuka placed just behind the winning pair in 2:10.96, which is well off of his season-best time from Japanese Nationals.
The two Americans, Adam Klein and Clark Burckle finished 7th and 8th, respectively.
Women’s 800 free
New Zealand’s Lauren Boyle, a former Cal Bear, continued her summer of super swimming by winning the women’s 800 free and guaranteeing that New Zealand would sit atop the (pool) swimming medal table at the end of day 1. Her 8:26.30 was easily her best of the season, and pushed her into the world’s top 10. Despite having such a good meet in Shanghai, her two-second time drop in this race shows that we still might not have seen her full potential at Worlds.
In 2nd was American/USC swimmer Haley Anderson. Though Anderson was on the World Championship roster in open water swimming, she missed her opportunity to swim in Shanghai, as her only entry was the ill-fated 25k that forced many competitors out of competition. This silver already makes her 2nd-foray into China (the only American to earn a second chance) already more successful than her 1st. Former Florida Gator Melania Costa took bronze in 8:33.66, which is a positive result for a swimmer that’s usually more focused on the 200-400 than this 800.
Men’s 200 back
No surprise here: the heavy favorite in this race, Japan’s Ryosuke Irie, cruised to a win in 1:56.01. He dominated every leg of this race, and only really seemed to turn his speed on during the final 50, which was enough to carry a two-second victory.
The USA’s Rex Tullius won a good battle for 2nd with New Zealand’s Gareth Kean in 1:58.66, which is off of his runner-up time from US Nationals two weeks ago. Kean took bronze in 1:58.74. Both he and Tullius took off on the back half of this race after slow starts. Ariona senior Cory Chitwood finished 4th in 1:59.48.
Women’s 400 free relay
Australia missed a medal in this relay at World’s, but their collegians weren’t going to be denied the same honor here in Shenzhen. They won in 3:40.03, anchored by a 53.6 from Marieke Guehrer (that would have really come in handy a few weeks ago for the Aussies). The rest of the splits from the winning quartet were: Cate Campbell (55.26), Alice Mills (55.35) and Jessica Morrison (55.82).
The American quartet of Kate Dwelley (55.22 – the best leadoff split), Felicia Lee (55.38), Shannon Vreeland (55.46), and a very good anchor from Megan Romano (54.13). This swim shows where the American collegiate concentrations are in the freestyle races, as the US squad was made up of two Stanford Cardinal and two Georgia Bulldogs. Take note that the American women didn’t win a single relay medal at the 2009 Universiade, so they’ve already improved upon that metric.
In 3rd was China, anchored by Yi Tang in 53.37, which was the fastest split of the entire field. She also anchored China’s Worlds relay. The darkhorse Belarusian team was in position to strike for a medal, but the final relay exchange caught them (by .15, not all that close) and earned them a DQ.
With a strong first-day showing, New Zealand has already matched Italy’s three open water medals with two golds and a bronze of their own. That’s a big haul for a New Zealand team that had only won three medals in the previous three Games combined.
The Americans have the most total medals, but fall way down in the rankings due to their lack of a single gold.