Into the final day of the 2012 Columbus Grand Prix at Ohio State, the NBAC swimmers were on fire. They took three out of the four events won by Americans in this meet. The Mexicans also had a great final day of the meet in what was effectively and Olympic Trial for them, including setting two National Records in the women’s 200 back and the men’s 1500.
Women’s 800 Free
NBAC’s Gillian Ryan, after a pretty good meet, really made a big statement with her final swim of the meet in the women’s 800 free. She swam an 8:29.25 that pushes her to 4th in the World Rankings, and makes her the fastest American this year. What’s more is that she knocked of Chile’s Kristel Kobrich, who was the Pan Am Games champion last year and is one of the world’s top distance swimmers. Kobrich was 2nd in 8:31.09 (6th in the world this year). Ryan led Kobrich wire-to-wire, and fought off a good challenge in the middle-portion of this race.
Another 16-year old, Leah Smith with whom Ryan has had some great battles this meet, pushed the pace of the race early, but couldn’t hold on past about the halfway mark and slid to 3rd in 8:34.11.
Ryan’s swim leaves a bit of a peculiar ranking in American women’s distance swimming in 2012. Chloe Sutton and Kate Ziegler were the two representatives at the World Championships in this race.
Sutton sits 6th behind two 14-year olds (Katie Ledecky and Becca Mann), two 16-year olds (Ryan and Smith), and a middle-distance specialist (Allison Schmitt – who is at this meet but not in this race). Ziegler hasn’t swum the race since the World Championships, preferring to focus on the shorter 200 and 400 freestyles over the last 6 months (that includes her returning to the FISH swim club that she trained with in her youth).
Women’s 200 IM
Hungary’s Zsu Jakabos took her third event win in three days by winning this 200 IM in 2:11.98, which is the 4th-best time in the world this year and is a lifetime best by roughly two seconds. Jakabos has always been a very good 400 IM’er, but this swim in the 200 is a new facet of her swimming ability that we haven’t seen even close to previously.
In 2nd-place was Natalie Coughlin in 2:12.90. That’s a bit slower than she was in Austin, which is a tad surprising given that in her previous two swims of this meet (the 100 fly and 100 back) she was significantly faster than she was in Austin. Still, she has to be feeling more-and-more confident about this race headed towards Trials.
Men’s 200 IM
This men’s 200 IM was a great battle between a great veteran, Tucson Ford’s Darian Townsend, and a great young swimmer, NBAC’s Chase Kalisz. Townsend went out very hard on the front-half of the race, but Kalisz has a great breaststroke and fought back on the third length (incidentally, Kalisz’s breaststroke but Hungary’s David Verraszto out of this race).
Ultimately, the veteran Townsend won out in 2:00.72 with a better freestyle anchor, but Kalisz swam the second-best time of his life with a 2:01.97 for 2nd-place. Much like we discussed with Jakabos in the women’s race, Kalisz is a 400 IM’er, but his 200 IM is really starting to come around at this meet.
Austin Staab swam this race only in prelims and was 19th there in 2:09.10. Though Staab is an NCAA Champion in yards in this race, he’s never been great in long course – that’s his second-best meters time ever.
Women’s 200 Backstroke
Mexico’s Maria Gonzalez-Ramirez was narrowly bettered by Natalie Coughlin in the 100 back, but she would have no such trouble in the 200. She won the race in 2:10.75, which destroys the Mexican National Record in the event and earns her an automatic qualifying time to this summers’ Olympics. That cuts two seconds off of the previous record held by Maria Fernandez-Gonzalez. The 21-year old made a huge breakthrough at this meet, and should become a Mexican star at the Olympics.
The runner-up was SMU swimmer Therese Svendsen in 2:13.10. That’s right at her lifetime best, which is a good indicator for her ahead of next weekend’s NCAA Championship meet, where she has a pair of top-8 seeds in the two backstroke events.
The top-finishing American in the race was 17-year old Madison White in 3rd in 2:14.10.
Men’s 200 Backstroke
After getting picked-off in the final stroke of the 100 backstroke, Matt Grevers bounced back to record a season-best in the 200 with a 1:57.59. He was already ranked 2nd in the world this year, but this swim puts a bigger gap in there (Japan’s Ryosuk Irie is still well ahead in a 1:54.0).
Club Wolverine’s Matt Patton was way behind with his 2nd-place finish in 2:02.38, but that is the second-best time of his career.
Women’s 100 Free
Allison Schmitt and Natalie Coughlin went head-to-head in this women’s 100 free, and for the first time of this meet Schmitt had an awesome close to the race. Even with Coughlin’s great underwaters, Schmitt came off of the turn and hurtled her way to a win in 54.77, which is easily the best time we saw from her in this meet.
Coughlin touched in 2nd in 55.12 in what she would call a good-training swim post-meet. That cuts three-tenths off of her previous season best, despite coming off of the 200 IM just 40 minutes prior.
Zsu Jakabos swam her 2nd best-time of the meet with a 55.25 for 3rd. That’s about half-a-second better than she’s ever been. Her continuing to excel in these shorter events shows that she’s getting much stronger, which when she tapers will show up big-time.
Men’s 100 Free
And the world shuddered with fear as Michael Phelps won the men’s 100 free in 48.49, which is the second-best time in the world. That’s the #10 time in his career and better than he’s been in-seas0n since this exact Grand Prix meet in 2008. This has always been an event with which he’s been enamored, and I think he gets back under 48 leading off the American relay in London. If he were really feeling risky, he would probably earn an individual swim in this race for the Olympics. Only one other American (Nathan Adrian at 48.97).
The runner-up was Brazil’s Nicolas Oliviera (49.37) and South Africa’s Townsend was 3rd in 49.47.
Men’s 1500 Free
Mexico’s Arturo Verti won the men’s 1500 free in 15:30.69. That time might not sound too impressive, but it does cut a tenth off of the Mexican National Record in the race, which was set at the 2008 Palo Alto Grand Prix meet by Daniel Delgadillo.