Day 1 of the 2012 U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials is underway in Omaha, Nebraska, and the first heat-winner of the meet was Tyler Lentz of Iowa in the men’s 400 IM.
But that wasn’t the last winner of the day; in what is expected to be a marathon session (maybe the longest in the history of the U.S. Olympic Trials), there is plenty of action to come. Keep up with this page as we bring you live updates from the whole meet.
10:33 AM – The fast heats of the 400 IM are about to start. Gator Swim Club is swimming extremely well through the first 7 or so heats. That bodes well for Ryan Lochte.
10:36 AM – we can see on the NBC monitors MIchael Phelps in the ready room, against the wall, with his headphones on. Initial perception is that he looks a little tense and a little nervous..
10:40 AM – Stephen Schmuhl from Indiana really got the crowd going with a 4:21 (5-second personal best) in heat 7.
11:08 AM – the 8 swimmers going through to finals are Ryan Lochte (4:10.66), l Phelps (4:14.72), Chase Kalisz (4:15.78), Tyler Clary (4:15.88), Tyler Harris (4:18.64), Michael Weiss (4:19.05), Andrew Gemmell (4:19.19) and Robert Margalis (4:19.33). Analysis to come.
400 IM Prelims
The first round of swimming is out of the way, with nothing truly spectacular happening. Most of the drama will be saved for this evening, when Michael Phelps (4:14.72), Tyler Clary (4:15.88), and Ryan Lochte will be lined up side-by-side.
The 10th (out of 12) heat saw Chase Kalisz and his North Baltimore teammate Michael Phelps lined up side-by-side, and the race actually played out very similarly to what we saw from them in their last outing at the Austin Elite Invitational. Kalisz got in a big hole in the first 200 meters (Phelps’ strength), and made up a huge chunk of ground on the breaststroke. Both swimmers were actually faster here than they were at the Elite Invite, even though their finishing times were ultimately very similar to that meet.
Kalisz pulled even closer in the first half of the freestyle, but then Phelps put out a little more effort to pull away and win that heat.
That swim, though, of 4:15.78 will give the young high school senior Kalisz the chance to mix things up with the big-boys in the final. He will be better than either Clary, Phelps, or Lochte on the breaststroke leg, but his question will be whether or not he can finish as well as he has been, because we know the other three top seeds will all be better.
Lochte’s time is the second-fastest in the world this year, but suffice to say he will be much better in the final. Clary seemed to exert the most effort on the front-half of this swim, blowing-away the rest of the field on the backstroke.
Other notable swims that didn’t final include Indiana’s Stephen Schmuhl, who swam a 4:21.78 in the 7th heat that injected the first burst of energy into the crowd as they prepared for the fast-heats. That left him 11th, and sets him up at a possible final run in the 200 fly (this was a best time by 5 seconds).
11:30 AM – Morgan Scroggy was 2nd in her heat of the women’s 100 fly in 1:00-high. That’s not going to make the final, but it is a best time for her. That shows that she could be due for a bounce back in her best event, the 200 free, where she had a tough year in 2011.
11:37 AM – Cindy Tran from Cal used her huge underwaters and showed that she is capable of pushing into long course as she was the first swimmer to break a minute in the women’s 100 fly with a 59.96. That’s her best time by over a second – look out in the 100 back.
11:39 AM – We’ve had a Dana Kirk siting already at the meet. The 2004 Olympian, who is now coaching in Palo Alto, swam in the 100 fly in heat 12, with a 1:01.9. That will be exciting for her swimmers.
11:51 AM – top 5 in women’s 100 fly: Dana Vollmer (56.59), Claire Donahue (57.82), ne Breeden (58.38), Natalie Coughlin (58.41), Kathleen Hersey (58.66). Analysis to come.
Women’s 100 Butterfly
The first big fireworks of this year’s trials came when Cal post-grad Dana Vollmer kicked-off a not-unsurprising record-breaking run in just the prelims of the women’s 100 fly with a 56.59 to take the top seed headed into the semi’s.
Vollmer actually went out in 26.44, which was under Sarah Sjostrom’s World Record pace. She couldn’t hold on to that on the back-half, but still blew-away the rest of her heat. Her finishing time broke Inge de Bruijn’s U.S. Open Record for the fastest time ever swum on American soil that previously stood at 56.64 from 2000 – one of the oldest records still in USA Swimming’s books. This also took down the Olympic Trials Record (57.50 from Christine Magnuson in 2008), and Long Course Nationals Record (57.15 also from Magnuson, in 2009).
Vollmer’s only concern will be if her demons of swimming too fast, too early rear-up again. She’ll only need to drop .12 in the last two rounds to get to her American Record.
As for Magnuson, who swam before Vollmer, she wasn’t great in this race. We’ve been speculating that she might have put a lot of her focus into the 50 free this time around, and her 59.05 for the 8th seed seems to back that up somewhat.
As for other stars that shone brightly, Claire Donahue from Western Kentucky, who was last year’s Pan Ams Champion, also went out very hard – she was under American Record pace as well. She touched in a new personal best of 57.82 for 2nd.
Elaine Breeden’s 58.38 for the 3rd seed will surprise a few people; I’m not sure that many people saw a time that good coming from her that early.
Other great times included Texas A&M’s Caroline McElhaney finishing 7th in 58.89. She just-missed a semi-final in 2008 when she was just in high school, and after transferring to train in College Station. She seems back on track with this swim.
Amanda Kendall, Jessica Hardy, Jenny Connolly, and Olivia Scott all made the semi-finals as well. This was a bit of a surprising swim from Hardy, and a good result.
Among those who missed the top-16 include Cindy Tran, who had a very positive result in 59.96 to break a minute for the first time in his career. On the other hand, Rachel Boostma, who is expected to be a contender in the women’s 100 back, probably won’t be thrilled with her result of only 1:00.13 for 21st overall. That’s a best time, but by less than a tenth of a second.
Germantown’s Teresa Crippen was a surprise scratch this morning, with her coach Dick Shoulberg saying that she came down with a stomach bug.
Update: Tran was locked into a swim-off with Tanya Krisman for the last spot in prelims after a scratch.
12:24 PM – Notre Dame’s Frank Dyer and Auburn’s Zane Grothe both put up huge personal bests in the early heats with 3:52’s. That’s two guys who were poised for breakouts at this meet, not sure either will make it back.
12:43 PM – There was a scratch in the women’s 100 fly, so Tanya Krisman and Cindy Tran will swim-off for the 16th spot in the semi-final. They had initially tied for 17th in 59.96. We’re still trying to confirm who has scratched.
Men’s 400 Free
In the three final heats of the men’s 400 free (the three circle-seeded) we saw three very tight heats that I think forced a lot of swimmers to push themselves harder than anticipated in this prelims-finals event.
Connor Jaeger set the tone with a very good 400 free in the first of those three heats, ekeing out a 3:48.06. Not only was that a fantastic time for a swimmer who only started to really heat-up the last 9-months (his best by almost three seconds), but it incredibly held-up for the top-seed overall.
That’s due in-part to the first monumental miss of this year’s Trials, where the defending USA Swimming National Champion Matt McLean missed the final with a 3:49.96 – not even close to his best time. He finished 9th overall, and barring a scratch will have to count on a possible relay spot in the 200 free to make his way to London.
As it was, current or former Michigan Wolverines (Jaeger, Charlie Houchin in 3rd in 3:48.48, Matt Patton in 3:48.79 for 4th, and the favorite Peter Vanderkaay in 5th (3:49.16). Of those swims, Patton’s is really encouraging.
The last two heats seemed to get caught up in a much slower pace, but Michael Klueh still looked very strong out of the final heat, with a 3:49.43 for the 7th seed overall. Expect a big move from him in the final.
1:20 PM – Cari Blalock’s 4:48 from heat 2 is still standing well ahead of anyone else in this field through 5 heats. Nobody else has been better than 4:50. That’s a best time for the North Carolina junior by 7 seconds.
1:29 PM – We’re hearing that Teresa Crippen came down with a stomach bug and scratched the 100 fly this morning. Jessica Hardy was the semi-final scratch.
1:48 PM – Bonnie Brandon with a 4:49.20 for the 2nd seed so far. Blalock’s 4:48.10 is still holding up from heat 2, with number 11 of 13 yet to come.
Women’s 400 IM
In the women’s 400 IM prelim, Florida’s Elizabeth Beisel did her best impression of teammate Ryan Lochte with a very easy-looking 4:35.72 to take the top seed overall by four seconds. She looked relaxed throughout the swim and even getting out of the pool, where she shrugged as if she didn’t know quite where that time came from.
As it is, the mark stands her as the fastest American this year and 8th-best in the world.
Though we can’t proclaim that Cal’s Caitlin Leverenz was at 100%, or even 90%, with her 4:39.57 for the 2nd seed, but Beisel was almost as good as Leverenz was on the breaststroke. Leverenz needs to be much, much faster in every part of her race if she wants to remain 2nd, let-alone catch Beisel in the final.
A pair from Texas A&M will also be in the final, with Cammile Adams in 4:39.84 for the 3rd seed and Sarah Henry 4:40.72 as the 5th seed. Henry, who again is just 6-months off of a second ACL surgery, is showing why she was one of the top recruits in the Class of 2010 coming out of high school. She pushed Leverenz the whole way in the 2nd-to-last heat, and even outsplit her on the closing freestyle (Henry’s best leg on this IM).
But probably the biggest surprise in this final is Meghan Hawthorne, winning the first of the three circle-seeded heats with a 3:40.00. She’s been the lurker of the impressive USC IM group, but this was an outstanding breakout swim for her with a best time by almost 6 seconds for the 4th overall seed. She now becomes a huge factor in replacing Katinka Hosszu’s lost points next year for the Trojans.
Haley Anderson, America’s Olympic open water qualifier, also made this final in 4:43.17 for 8th. That’s a best time for her by a few tenths.
But it would be remiss not to mention the 4:42.31 from 14-year old Becca Mann out of Clearwater, Florida. She is the latest budding superstar prodigy of Randy Reese, and this was her explosion. Believe it or not, despite being the third-fastest 13-14 time in history, it’s not Mann’s best. Under the radar, at a local meet two weeks ago, she went a 4:42.14. So, this swim was only a surprise in that the whole of the swimming world missed the swim from a few weeks ago.
Small surprises missing the final include Allysa Vavra from Indiana in 9th at 4:43.86. Also deserving of a nod is North Carolina’s Cari Blalock who, despite swimming in the 2nd heat, had a 4:48.1 to finish 15th overall. That was the only swimmer in the first 11 heats to break the 4:50 barrier with that 7-second personal best.
2:19 PM – Steve West, the oldest male Olympic Trials qualifier in history, swam a 1:03.90 to place 2nd in heat number 2 of the men’s 100 breast. That’s a best time by 7-tenths.
2:36 PM – Daniel Le of Star Aquatics gave some fans near the media area a heart-attack, because he had his shoes out on the starting platform, only to step out of them directly onto the block without setting a bare foot on deck. We all have our superstitions.
2:38 PM – Trevor Hoyt from Cal breaks open the speed with a 1:01.88 to win heat 11 of 15. Not an unexpected swim – he’s great in yards.
Men’s 100 Breaststroke
John Criste is feeling the Dave Salo breaststroke magic. Since headed there after wrapping up his career at Stanford, he’s looked pretty good, but he tore through the 100 breaststroke prelim with a 1:00.29 to knock a full second off of his best time and take the top seed headed into the semi-finals. Nobody was outrageously fast in this, but I think he was one of the last people who would have been picked to lead the way here.
But he’ll have the veteran Brendan Hansen nipping right on his heels with a 1:00.30.
Kevin Cordes had a great front-half, and ended up 5th in 1:00.83. All of the names that needed to made this final safely, with mild surprises in an early 1:01.88 from Trevor Hoyt finishing only 18th, and Ed Moses in 21st in 1:02.02 for 21st. This was Moses’ better chance between that and the 200, which effectively wraps-up his comeback attempt. I was also surprised by Christian Higgins hitting only a 1:02.22 for 22nd – a best time, but only by a small amount.
Women’s 100 Fly Swimoff
In the women’s 100 fly swim-off, for the last spot in the semifinal, Cindy Tran took her patented lead at the turn. But as we posited, she was going to need about a full second to hold off Krisman on the back-half, and she had only 9-tenths. Once she felt the more endurance-based Tanya Krisman side-by-side with her, the race was over and Tran just about died.
Krisman took the win in 59.42, half-a-second better than she was initially in the prelim, and Tran went the other way in 1:00.47.
Full day 1 results are available here, and stay tuned to SwimSwam for more videos, recaps and coverage all day and all week long.