Women’s 200 Fly
Texas A&M sophomore Cammile Adams kicked off a great session for the Aggies by winning the 200 fly in 2:06.76. That slashes nearly four seconds off of her career-best, which adds to her lifetime-best swims in the 200 free, 400 free, and 400 IM from earlier in this meet. And this isn’t some new-on-the-scene star; this is a swimmer who has twice been on the US National Team, and swimming for a college program that is in the throes of very heavy training. Further, that time stands as a new pool record at the University of Texas, which is notable as the home-pool of America’s best 200 butterflier Kathleen Hersey.
British swimmer Jemma Lowe led most of this race, but Adams tore into the lead in the last 20 meters or so. The crowd at the Texas Swim Centre saw Adams begin to make a move just past halfway of the final length, and started to roar. There’s nothing like a great run-down.
Lowe would take 2nd in 2:07.39. Allison Schmitt came in 4th in the race in 2:11.45, which is a lifetime best for her as well. Schmitt has had an interesting strategy at these Grand Prix Meets, which seems to be something along the lines of “swim the most difficult schedule I can, and see how well I can maintain in my primary events”.
Men’s 200 Fly
Gator Swim Club/South African Sebastien Rousseau won the men’s 200 fly in a relatively unremarkable 2:00.83. The finish was pretty exciting, however, as he was able to take out Cal post-grad David Russell in the last few strokes for the victory. Russell was second in 2:00.98, with Candian Stefan Hirniak in 3rd in 2:01.09.
Michael Phelps swam three races on the final day of the Austin Grand Prix, but not among them was this 200 fly. That’s a touch disappointing, given his history in this pool in that race – it was in Austin in 2001 in the 200 fly where it all began for Phelps. That’s where he set his first career World Record, a time that still remains on the pool record board.
Worth noticing is the A-Final spot of 16-year old Jimmy Yoder, who was a bit slower in the evening after posting a 2:03.92 in prelims. That’s pretty far off of his best time, but is still impressive that he was able to make a Grand Prix A-Final in obviously-heavy training. He’s got future star for USA Swimming written all over him.
Women’s 100 Breast
Rebecca Soni again dominated a breaststroke event at the Grand Prix, with many of the big stars (Beard, Hardy; Chandler in the B-Final) absent. Her winning time was 1:06.88, which was probably not quite as impressive as her 2:22 in the 200, but is still a very good time.
The absence of many of the big breaststroke stars left an opening for another A&M swimmer to come into focus. That’s breakout sensation Breeja Larson, who continues to make her mark as one of the futures of American breaststroking. She was off of her best in the 200, but in the 100 went a best time of 1:08.27 to continue to tick higher in the American rankings.
Larson just held off a late push from the strong Canadian Jillian Tyler, who was 3rd in 1:08.33. Texas swimmer Laura Sogar, with whom Larson should have an epic showdown at Big 12’s in a few weeks, took 4th in 1:08.97.
Pan Ams Champion Annie Chandler stumbled a bit in prelims, but had a solid 1:10.20 to win the B-Final. She placed just ahead of Andrea Kropp (1:10.26).
Men’s 100 Breaststroke
The A-Final of the men’s 100 breaststroke didn’t have any huge times, but Mark Gangloff’s 1:01.08 was a great time for him this time of year (he’s typically a 1:01-high or worse in-season, in-tectile).
The runner-up was Valerii Dymo of Ukraine in 1:01.25. Dymo was a very promising youngster in 2007, just before the rubber-suit explosion, but after the fallout has largely disappeared from competition. With this meet, however, and the strong performance therein, he might be back on his way to the top. This swim was the best he’s been since 2009.
Eric Shanteau was 3rd in 1:01.54.
This was the session’s first appearance from Michael Phelps, who had a strong 1:02.67 to win the B-Final. That is one of his better times ever.. Ed Moses scratched the final of this race after placing 13th in the prelims in 1:03.62.
Women’s 100 Backstroke
Missy Franklin isn’t bad underwater on her backstrokes. After watching her swim live for the first time, it’s pretty clear that the poor underwaters are really only a problem coming off of the start – where she was pretty close to last place as the field started stroking.
After the turn, however, she actually burst into the lead. She did come up about two kicks before everyone else in the field, but she is good enough above the water to have turned that into a lead, and a final lunge gave her the win in 59.92. She just out-touched Rachel Bootsma, who was 2nd in 1:00.03.
Britain’s Georgia Davies took 3rd in 1:00.67. I expected a touch faster from the speedster after a very good 200 back earlier in the meet, but that’s still a solid swim for her.
Natalie Coughlin (1:01.19) and Canadian Julia Wilkinson (1:01.93) were both top-four seeds in prelims, but scratched to focus on the 200 IM. That’s a real shock for Coughlin, and shows that she might at least be giving serious consideration to bringing the 200 IM into her Olympic Trials schedule.
Men’s 100 Backstroke
What a luxury it is to be huge. Matt Grevers’ didn’t appear to be too far ahead of his competition at the end of the men’s 100 backstroke, but with his monstrous reach, he won by a relatively comfortable margin of half-a-second with a time of 53.55.
The two men he out-placed to the wall were David Plummer (54.02) and Michael Phelps (54.09), the latter of whom was on his second of three-straight events. Phelps was definitely churning serious water in this race, though he was not as efficient through this stroke as Grevers and, to a certain extent, Plummer. It still showed great physical conditioning to perform well in back-to-back off events.
Nick Thoman was first in prelims in 54.89, but like the rest of the SwimMAC crew, went home early and skipped the last night of finals.
Young swimmer Ryan Murphy had another strong swim in this meet with a 55.91 to win the B-Final. He outpaced Jack Conger, with whom he has a bit of a mini-rivalry developing, in that B-Final. Conger took 12th overall in 56.28.
Women’s 200 IM
As mentioned previously, Natalie Coughlin caught the meet a bit off-guard and scratched the 100 back to really go after this 200 IM final. And go-after-it she did – she took the field to task in the first 50 meters and wouldn’t look back.
Not unexpectedly Katie Hoff would make up a little bit of ground on the breaststroke, and again on the freestyle, but with Coughlin taking out the race so hard, she was able to hold on for the victory in 2:12.44. That’s three seconds faster than when she last swam this race in April of 2011, and an awesome time in only her 2nd go at the event since the Beijing Olympics.
Hoff would also swim a good time for 2nd in 2:12.95. This race showed, however, that she really has to keep working at her front-half, especially her butterfly, if she wants to be a contender in Omaha and/or London.
Stanford’s Kate Dwelley had a great finish to this race to take 3rd in 2:13.84 ahead of Canada’s Julia Wilkinson in 2:14.39. Missy Franklin was 5th in 2:15.81.
Texas senior Karlee Bispo had a very good performance to win the B-Final in 2:15.94. This capped a good week for her that included 5 days of rmeets in a 9 day period, all at the peak of training.
Men’s 200 IM
And on the third-straight event, Phelps showed his meddle. He was visibly fatigued by the time the race was over (and even through the turns of the race), but still cruised to a great time of 1:58.52. Even swimming next to Ryan Lochte, who had a lighter final-day schedule, he looked like a man-among-boys in the race. Now the conversation can seriously begin, because it seems that if Phelps could only have one goal in London (and he obviously has more than one), it would be to take back this 200 IM World Record to end his career.
Lochte finished 2nd in 2:00.30, and his teammate Conor Dwyer was 3rd in 2:01.59.
Women’s 800 Free
Allison Schmitt continued her out-of-this-atmosphere since beginning her post-Worlds training with NBAC, and snapped off an 8:31.94 to take the women’s 800 free. She took control of the race early, making her big move around the 300 meter mark, and cruised to a four-second career-best. It’s hard to make a comparison to a swimmer like runner-up Chloe Sutton (8:36.93) or open-water swimmer Ashley Twichell (8:37.29) who was 3rd, because as true distance swimmers they’re probably in a whole different mode of training right now, but it’s still a huge indicator-swim for Schmitt.
Earlier in the meet, in the afternoon heats, Janet Evans finished up her big comeback-meet with an 8:49.05. Though that only placed her 11th, it gave her a second Olympic Trials cut on the weekend (along with the 400 free) to take some pressure off headed towards June.
Men’s 1500 Free
Michael Klueh is a bit of a “tweener” in distance swimming, who generally falls squarely in the gap between the 400 and 1500 freestyles (in other words, he would benefit if the Olympics would add a men’s 800 to the schedule). But in the meantime, he has to really push between now and Omaha to earn his way onto the Olympic team, and this 1500 swim was a good boost to that effort. He took the win in 15:25.33, and though I still think he has a better chance in the 400, a big 15-second win will certainly boost his confidence.
Peter Vanderkaay finished 2nd in 15:39.43. He hasn’t been quite as “on” this meet as his training partners from the Gator Swim Club (including Lochte and Dwyer) have been, but he hasn’t looked bad either. Matt McLean, who is not shy about his disdain for this event, finished 4th in 15:42.46. He, like Klueh, is probably shooting primarily for a spot in the 400 free individually.