As action cooled off a bit on day 2 of the USA Swimming Winter National Championships in Atlanta, the performances in Austin at the Texas Invite somehow got even better on the 2nd night of competition, which is hard to believe given how good it was the first night. Every single individual race on the day had an NCAA automatic qualifying time, and some of the all-time great records were rattled.
Women’s 400 IM
USC’s Katinka Hosszu may have struggled over the summer in long course, but that hasn’t stopped her one bit in NCAA action. She’s tacked on a 3:58.86 in the women’s 400 IM, which is her career-best time and the 2nd-best swim in history (behind only Julia Smit’s U.S. Open Record from 2010). Hosszu now has two of the only three swims ever, at any level, under the four-minute barrier. With that mark, she’s going to be hard to beat by anybody, even with as well as Florida’s Elizabeth Beisel swam over the summer. The bigger-picture question is going to be how well Hosszu bounces back at the Olympics, and whether she can challenge Beisel there in long course.
For the 2nd-straight night, a fantastic swim by Stanford’s Maya DiRado was overshadowed by Hosszu. DiRado swam a 4:02.06 to take 2nd in this race. That is the 11th-best performance in NCAA history (she was faster in 4:01 at NCAA’s last year).
Men’s 400 IM
Arizona’s Austen Thompson must have been inspired by watching Hosszu’s swim immediately before him, because he came out on a tear in the men’s 400 IM. He took off in a 50.0 on the butterfly leg, and ripped all the way through to a 3:39.37, which is a three-second time drop. That time is faster than the time that won NCAA’s last year, and makes him a big-time favorite at NCAA’s.
Women’s 200 Free
Texas’ leader Karlee Bispo had a strong swim on day 1 in the 50 free, which is a bit of an off event for her. Today, she moved into the 200 free, possibly her best event, and posted an NCAA automatic qualifying time of 1:43.82 to take a strong win. That’s two seconds faster than she was at this meet last season, though it’s almost identical to what she went at this same meet in 2008. That’s a very good sign for her, as she ended up performing very well at that year’s NCAA Championship meet.
Arizona’s Alyssa Anderson just missed the auto cut, but still looked very good in 1:44.07 for 2nd-place. She closed the race a touch better than did Bispo, indicative of her 500 free skills, but was too far behind to make up the gap.
Men’s 200 Free
The honoree of the NCAA automatic cut in this race was USC’s Dimitri Colupaev, who won in a 1:33.49. That’s easily the best time in the country this year, and is almost identical to what he went at NCAA’s last year. Texas’ Dax Hill, who was 2nd at NCAA’s last season, also took 2nd in this race in 1:34.30. Texas appears less rested than some of the Pac-12 teams that are in town for this meet, so with adjustment for that, Hill’s 2nd-ranked-time nationally is still quite impressive.
Texas’ Clay Youngquist took 3rd in 1:35.30, which is his best time as a college swimmer so far. Texas finished only 9th in the 800 free relay at NCAA’s last year, which is uncharacteristically low for them, but if Youngquist continues to develop well, they should be back in the top 3 this season.
Women’s 100 Breaststroke
Kasey Carlson made a big statement to remind the country that Breeja Larson isn’t the only incredible sophomore breaststroker in the country. She swam a 58.46, which is the best time in the country this year and the 8th-best in NCAA history. To go that sort of time in the fall is amazing (the fact that two sophomores have been that fast this year already is even more amazing).
Wisconsin’s Ashley Wanland took 2nd in her season-best time of 1:00.18, just ahead of Ellyn Baumgardner in 1:00.20. Those two weren’t as fast as Carlson in this race, but expect them to both be in the mix for top-5 finishes at NCAA’s.
Men’s 100 Breaststroke
Nobody can fault Arizona’s Kevin Cordes for not bettering his prelims time in the men’s 100 breaststroke. That swim was a National Age Group record, an NCAA freshman record, and one of the best 100 breaststrokes we’ve ever seen. Even to follow it up with a 52.04, as he did, is quite impressive. He’s now got the two best times ever done by a college freshman.
Behind him, Carl Mickelson touched in 52.74 (also a bit slower than he was in prelims), with Kelley Wyman taking 3rd in 53.56. That shows how strong of a breaststroke group this was even before Cordes, and now they’re one of the best in the country. UNLV went 4th and 5th, showing improving depth to go with their top-end talent, with Andrew Morrell in 53.71 and David Szele in 53.82.
Women’s 100 Backstroke
The Arizona women went 1-2 in the 100 backstroke, with Sarah Denninghoff taking the victory in an auto-cut of 52.19. She was followed closely by transfer Lauren Smart, who is officially swimming unattached, in 52.30. Those are both solid drops from their prelims times.
Texas sophomore Lily Moldenhauer looked very good in 3rd in 52.79, which is the 2nd-best time of her career (and fastest not leading off a relay).
Men’s 100 Backstroke
The Arizona men matched their women and went 1-2 in this race, with Mitchell Friedemann taking the win in 45.91 ahead of teammate Cory Chitwood in 45.94. Chitwood is the much more decorated of the pair, but Friedemann has continued to fight for the spot on the top Arizona medley relay.
Women’s 200 Medley Relay
The women’s 200 medley relay was a very tight battle, though there were no automatic qualifying times. Arizona took the victory in 1:37.01 on strength of a 21.36 anchor in the 50 free. The Texas relay had four solid legs, including a 24.4 leadoff from Moldehnauer, to take 2nd in 1:37.53, and USC took 3rd in 1:37.69. Kasey Carlson split a 26.68 on the breaststroke, but that’s not even close to as fast as she was at NCAA’s last year. That’s an indicator that her 100 breaststroke could get even stronger come year’s end.
Men’s 200 Medley Relay
The Arizona men dominated this 200 medley relay with an NCAA auto time of 1:24.34, which is again faster than he was all of last year. New Arizona coach Eric Hansen is almost turning out sprinters at will, with Nick Popov anchoring this relay in 19.00. Also, check out a 20.30 fly split from transfer Giles Smith. Only two swimmers were faster than that at NCAA’s last year. He’s finally coming around to the full potential he had when he first came out of high school.
Women’s 800 Free Relay
The Stanford women are already way ahead of their NCAA Championship time in the 800 free relay with a 7:02.76 victory. This was a solid, balanced relay, with all four swimmers going under 1:47 including a second leg of 1:44.38 from Maya DiRado. USC took 2nd in 7:03.85, with Texas 3rd in 7:09.38. This meet has been a grueling one for many swimmers, some of whom are swimming 10 or 11 events, and the 800 free relay looked pretty sluggish across the board. Bispo, for example, swam only a 1:46 on the relay leadoff.
Men’s 800 Free Relay
As mentioned previously, Texas’ 800 free relay should be better this year than it was last, which they proved with a 6:22.94 to take a slim victory. USC’s A relay was close behind in 6:23.26. The men seemed to be suffering from the same fatigue as the women by this point.
A nice surprise on USC’s B relay was junior Spencer di Dio leading off in 1:34.98.