Men’s 1500 free
This men’s 1500 free ended up being a much better race than previously expected (the posted psych sheets didn’t include the final heat, oops). Italy’s Rocco Potenza upped his bronze from the 800 with a big-swim for gold in this men’s 1500. Potenza is a late-bloomer, and will be an exciting swimmer to track headed towards London. His winning time of 15:00.57 ranks him 9th in the World this year, but that’s not even the most exciting part. This swim completes a year where he’s cut 40 seconds (yes, that’s 40 seconds, not a typo) off of his career-best time. Now, a swimmer who entered the season probably close to considering retirement, is the third-fastest Italian EVER in this race. He’s still fighting an uphill battle to catch Samuel Pizetti for an Olympic spot, but the imagination is giddy for the possibilities for this swimmer, who just turned 22 yesterday.
Japan’s Yohsuke Miyamoto took silver in 15:04.86. He was about 7 seconds faster at World’s. The Ukraine’s Sergii Frolov took bronze in 15:06.17, which is a new career-best for him. At only 19, he’s far-and-away the best male distance swimmer in his country already, and if he can break the 15-minute barrier in the next year, which seems almost a certainty given his development, he would easily break the National Record that sits at 15:01.
This 1500 is just a bit too long for the 800 champion Michael Klueh of the United States. He swam a 15:06.7 to place 4th, but his Olympic hopes are probably best-laid in the 400 at this point. He did, however, have a typically-Klueh closing 50 of 26.98, which was faster than anyone else in the race. The other American, Michigan’s Ryan Feeley at only 19, swam a 15:12.16 for 5th.
Women’s 50 free
Belarus’ Aleksandra Herasimenia successfully defended her gold medal in the women’s 50 free with a winning time of 24.66, which was almost identical to her 24.62 meet record set two years ago. She took a sizable advantage in this race, but was followed by Darya Stepanyuk of the Ukraine in 25.12 and Cate Campbell of Australia in 25.17.
Belarus is earning itself a reputation for pure sprinters, with the much-less heralded Sviatlana Khakhlova touching 4th in 25.28. The two Americans – Sam Woodward (25.39) and Karlee Bispo (25.40) placed 5th and 6th, respectively. Australia’s Marieke Guehrer has had a roller-coaster of a meet, with two great swims and two disappointing ones. This 50 free final probably fell into the latter category, as she finished 7th in 25.43.
Men’s 50 free
The men’s 50 free was a much more tightly-contested affair than the women’s that preceeded it – only three-tenths separated first from eighth, and it wasn’t until the wakes cleared and the times posted that the winner was clear. The victory went to Italy’s Lucio Spadaro in 22.30, which is just off of his best time from 2010 and moves him into the top 30 in the World Rankings. Spadaro, who’s a part of the impressive young Italian sprint corps, won by the slimmest of margins over the United States’ Adam Small: .01 to be exact. Small hit the wall in 22.31, which is just barely a career-best time for him.
Japan’s Shinri Shioura took bronze in 22.37. Though he’s all-but guaranteed an Olympic spot for Japan in this 50 free if he swims as well next year, the National coaches would probably prefer for him to work on building a turn and a second 50 onto this event for the sake of their National medal count (and specifically the gold-medal chances of their 400 medley relay).
The USA’s Josh Schneider placed 5th in 22.46. He is in the World University Games by way of a lost swim-off to SwimMAC teammate Cullen Jones for a World Championships spot.
Women’s 200 backstroke results
The win by Japan’s Shiho Sakai in this race in 2:09.75 was no surprise, as she was by far seeded as tops in this field. The silver medal, however, to Canada’s Hilary Caldwell, was a bit more of an upset.
Caldwell’s time of 2:11.12 is a career-best by about 1.3 seconds, and is the 6th time this season that she has beaten her pre-2011 career best. She competes collegiately for the University of Victoria, which is (or is close to) the best college program in Canada, and is quickly growing her star on the Canadian National scene. She outpaced the other Canadian Dominique Bouchard, generally viewed as Canada’s top 200 backstroker, who finished 5th in 2:11.59. Bouchard still has a better career-best, but these two young swimmers (both born in 1991) could develop quite a little rivalry going towards London and Rio beyond that.
The bronze medal went to Spain’s Duane da Rocha in 2:11.24. New Zealand’s Melissa Ingram was the odd-woman out in 4th at 2:11.45.
The only American finalist was Ashley Jones of Indiana in 2:12.19.
Women’s 100 breaststroke
China’s Sun Ye took the win in the women’s 100 breaststroke after coming from 7th place at the turn all the way back to win comfortably in 1:07.53. Canada took another silver with Tera van Beilen’s swim of 1:08.24, which is a best-time for her. Japan’s Satomi Suzuki took bronze in 1:08.45 to just outtouch Australia’s Samantha Marshall (1:08.49). Marshall was the fastest out in the field in 32.00, which was actually faster than she went in the individual 50 breaststroke. Not surprisingly, she fell apart pretty badly on the back-half of this race to take 4th.
Annie Chandler of the United States swam similarly – out in 32.02, and came back very slowly for 5th in 1:08.77. Micah Lawrence was 6th in 1:08.96.
Men’s 400 medley relay
With the front-half that Japan had in this relay,and how well their back-half has been swimming at this meet, they had to feel good about their chances. They had some extra motivation as they entered the race just a gold medal away from passing China for 2nd in the overall medal standings. Ryosuke Irie made up for his disappointing individual 100 back performance (where he didn’t even final) by posting a 53.56 in this race to get Japan out to a fast start. Japan would lead this race wire-to-wire, despite a good early challenge from New Zealand, and took gold in 3:35.02 to defend their 2009 title.
The Americans got a great anchor leg from Jimmy Feigen (49.05 – the best in the field) to take silver in 3:37.92. That’s a big improvement off of the last edition of this meet, where they didn’t even medal. The Kiwis mentioned above looked in great position through three legs, but they were done-in by a subpar freestyle leg of Matt Stanley, and despite being three seconds ahead at the halfway mark, the Italians roared back to tie them for bronze. Both squads touched in 3:38.75, with Luca Leonardi making up the most ground.
At the conclusion of the meet, the United States stood atop the medal standings with twice as many gold medals as any other country (12). Unlike 2009, however, they also had the most total medal, outpacing Japan by 1. Both categories are an improvement for the Americans from the last edition of this meet.
A stellar final day for Japan, including two gold medals, put them third in this meet for the third-straight time. China and New Zealand also had great meets to outperform expectations with 6 and 5 golds a piece.
Stay tuned, as today and tomorrow we will wrap up final notions, thoughts, and performances from this meet.