Owing to the improved reputation of this Columbus Grand Prix meet, the first 6 finals saw Meet Records falling like crazy. But none was more spectacular than what we saw in the very first men’s race of the meet.
Men’s 200 Free
Oh yeah, Michael is feeling it. In the latest episode of the Gold Medal Minute, Mel Stewart picked Ryan Lochte to top Michael Phelps in the 200 free at the London Olympics. With Mel in town calling the meet for Universal Sports, Phelps stepped up on the block in this 200 free and with a big “watch this,” launched off a 1:45.69. That ranks him 2nd in the world this year. He was good at this same Grand Prix last season – so view this as probably a swim on a bit of a lightened load last season – but that time is still better than he’s been mid-year since a Georgia Sectionals meet in 2006. The shark is circling.
The runner-up was USC’s Dimitri Colupaev in 1:48.70. That’s a strong time for him two weeks out and will have a definite affect on predictions for NCAA’s. It should also make a statement to the German coaching staff that he’s interested in an Olympic relay spot.
Women’s 200 Free
It’s hard to rate Allison Schmitt’s performance in the 200 free. On the one hand, she did win a Meet Record of 1:57.54. On the other hand, we’ve seen five women (herself included) go under 1:57 this season in races where they had no reason to be rested for. Schmitt started off the race strong (out in 57.54), but didn’t close all that well. The closing was where she hit her wall at Worlds.
In 2nd-place was her former Georgia teammate Chelse Nauta in 1:58.12. That’s a best time and might actually move her into position ahead of training partner Morgan Scroggy for an 800 free relay spot at the Olympics. Scroggy was on the Worlds team in this race individually, but hasn’t come close to the 1:57.1 that qualified her since 2010. Another recent college grad, former Buckeye Sam Cheverton, was 3rd in 1:58.95. She’s been very consistent this season, and right now looks like the favorite to take the top individual spot on the Canadian Olympic team in this race, despite some tough competition (they have a great 800 free relay set up).
The Hungarians Evelyn Verraszto and Agnes Mutina tied for 5th in 2:00.47’s. Early returns from 16-year old Gillian Ryan, who recently moved to train with Schmitt at NBAC, were very positive. She took 7th in 2:00.95, which is already a lifetime best. She was, however, outdone by fellow 16’er Leah Smith, who placed 4th in 2:00.00 – a 2.5 second improvement.
Men’s 100 Breaststroke
Japan’s Kosuke Kitajima was back to his old self ahead of a hugely-competitive Japanese Trials that is coming soon. He topped this race in a Meet Record of 1:00.13, which placed him ahead of Damir Dugonjic in 1:00.60. That time from Kitajima is 2nd-best in the world this year (behind only the winning time from British Trials), and Dugonjic also moved into the top 5.
The top finishing American was Kitajima’s Trojan teammate John Criste in 1:01.56 for 3rd. Elliot Keefer was 8th in a disheartening 1:03.82, so he’ll have to get himself jacked up for Saturday’s 200.
Women’s 100 Breaststroke
More Meet Records fell in this race, with the top three swimmers all clearing the old mark. The pace-setter was the newly-engaged Annie Chandler in 1:08.59, which is easily the best time of her season. Her and fiance Matt Grevers have both swum very well since Columbia where he popped the big question – it seems as though that has put them both in a great place.
Andrea Kropp took 2nd in 1:09.40, which is a lifetime best for her. That’s a positive sign after a semester training with breaststroke guru Dave Salo at USC. And Katie Meili, a sophomore at Columbia who has already had a yards breakthrough this year to qualify for NCAA’s, used this meet a week out as a long course statement by finishing 3rd in 1:09.69. That shows that it didn’t take a full taper for her to qualify for the top college meet, and that she could be an A-Finalist there.
Annie Zhu, a Georgia commit, is also swimming well upon arrival at NBAC, and took 4th in 1:00.77.
Men’s 100 Fly
Without Phelps in this race (we speculated in the preview that this was a sign of confidence), Tim Phillips had a very well-played race to win in 52.86. He went out very hard and gutted-out the backhalf for a season-best mark. Chris Brady was 2nd in 53.22.
In the big return of former Stanford Cardinal Austin Staab to the long course pool (which he hasn’t raced seriously since 2009), he took 6th in 53.87. That will serve as a benchmark if he moves forward with his training, as nobody really knew what to expect from him.
Other notable finishes include Georgia commit Matthew Ellis in 53.45 for 4th, and Mark Dylla winning the B-Final in 54.81.
Women’s 100 Fly
Natalie Coughlin took down the 100 fly Meet Record with a big-time 58.37 win. That’s a hair slower (three tenths) than she was when she swam this race last April, but that swim ties her for 7th in the world this year. If she continues to put up times like this, the roar is going to continue to build for her to swim the 200 IM at the Olympic Trials.
If, at the end of a long meet on Sunday, she steps up and knocks out better than a 2:12.2 in the 200 IM, then it’s on.
Elaine Breeden was also under the old meet mark for 2nd in 58.96, with Tucson Ford’s Christine Magnuson taking 3rd in 59.81. 16-year old Celina Li won the B-Final in 1:00.79.
Men’s 400 IM
And finally, rolling into these 400 IM’s, the 6-straight Meet Record count was snapped. David Verraszto swam a positive 4:14.58 for the win and the 4th-best time in the world this year (though – the best 400 IM’s rarely come until deeper into the season).
A pair of high school seniors, who will become rivals at Cal and Georgia respectively next fall, took 2nd and 3rd. NBAC’s Chase Kalisz swam a 4:20.93 – which is a gigantic improvement over the last time we saw him race – and Josh Prenot swam a 4:23.24.
Women’s 400 IM
The most notable time from an Olympic perspective was the 4:38.25 from Zsu Jakabos for the meet win, giving the Hungarians the sweep of the event. That ranks her 6th in the world this year, and when compared to the times of her Hungarian teammates earlier in the meet, shows that she’s a serious medal contender in this race in London. That time is already faster than she went in prelims at last year’s World Championships, where she failed to make the final.
From a collegiate perspective, Georgia has to be excited about high school senior Hali Flickinger taking 2nd in 4:46.11. That’s not a best time, but it doesn’t seem to be a rested time either. Zhu took 3rd in 4:48.04, and Kropp 4th in 4:48.39, both on great breaststroke legs.