Wilkinson Wins Duel with Russell, Both Head to London on Day 2

Men’s 200 Fly

The men’s meet kicked off with a huge upset. Everybody’s favorite in this race Stefan Hirniak was under National Record pace at every turn. He was still under National Record pace with about 25 meters to go in the race. But at that point, he tightened up tremendously and within a matter of two strokes went from in the lead to totally out of contention.

Meanwhile, the pair in lanes 7 and 8 pushed way past him and got locked in a head-to-head race outside of the center-lane spotlight. David Sharpe out of the Halifax Trojans club was a few inches ahead at the shoulders coming into the touch, though he almost lost on a great finish by Toronto Swim Club’s Zack Chetrat. Sharpe, though, would get his fingers on the wall and earn the lone spot on the Olympic Team in 1:58.81, which is a two-second personal best for him. Chetrat took 2nd in 1:58.83.

As for the side-breathing Hirniak, this was all-too-familiar of a scene for him, as in the 2008 Beijing Trials he looked very good in the first 100 meters and then fell back to 4th as well. But this year’s was easily a more painful collapse. He ended up in a time of 2:00.26, which again puts him in 4th. The other swimmer ahead of him was Alec Page, already on the team in the 400 IM, in a best time of 1:59.99.

Mack Darragh out of Oakville (who trains in the US at Missouri) was 5th in 2:00.65.  He’s stuck at a tough spot in training: about three weeks after a last-chance NCAA qualifier meet. He was a lot faster in this race at last year’s World Youth Championships, where he broke the 15-17 NAG Record. Much like Hirniak, he looked in good position until the final 50 meters, where he lost all contact with the race.

Women’s 100 Back

Whether or not to call this race a second-straight upset is a matter of opinion. Julia Wilkinson has for years been the top of the Canadian backstroke field, but Sinead Russell last summer broke out, took the National Record, and made the final at the World Championships.

The pair was about even at the turn, but the veteran Wilkinson roared home in route to a 59.85, for a relatively comfortable victory. She finally broke the minute barrier (putting her as the 2nd Canadian to do so, after Russell last year) with that swim, which is a target that  she’s been very close to for years. It also ranks her 5th in the world in 2012.

Russell, meanwhile, took 2nd in 1:00.45. Not a great time from her, but it is good enough to put her through to London as a 2nd qualifier. In both of her meets this year, she hasn’t looked even as good as her post-World’s meets in 2011. She has had a lot of pressure on her in the last 6 months for a young swimmer, and there’s a chance that this is affecting her swimming. She still was safe in this race, but if she’s not in top form, it will be much more of a concern in the 200 back, where there’s a deep field, and the 100/200 freestyles where she’ll be running for relay spots.

Hilary Caldwell from the Pacific Sea Wolves swam a best time of 1:00.77 for 3rd. That’s a great mark (a second better than prelims), and just like we saw in Tuesday’s 400 free shows the improved depth on the women’s team that it won’t make London. Dominique Bouchard was 4th in 1:01.09. Though she’s spent a lot of time working on her speed in the past year, she was a touch faster at the 2011 Trials.

Men’s 100 Back

After the excitement of the women’s race, this men’s 100 back was a bit of a letdown. There were no really outstanding times in this race, but Charles Francis did win and earn (on a FINA-B provisional time) in 54.84, which is slower than he was in the prelim. Though the time’s not great, this is an exciting victory for him and caused a load roar in the natatorium, as he had roughly 100 friends and family drove an hour in from Cowansville, his home town.

If there was a bright-spot in this final, it was a personal best from Matthew Swanston in 2nd in 55.56. He finished up his college season last weekend, and it would be good to see him stick around at least through next year’s World Championships to see what he can do with a full-focus on international swimming and training.

Matt Hawes was 3rd in 55.62, and Jake Tapp took 4th in 56.17.

Women’s 400 IM

And finishing the day, no surprise, was another upset. Stephanie Horner took the win in 4:42.25, with Alexa Komarnycky taking 2nd in 4:42.69.

Komarnycky, the defending National Champion, was positioned right on Horner’s hip throughout the race. She tried in the last 50 meters to make a final burst for the win, and though she did make up a lot of ground, she just ran out of room. That will put Horner on the bus to London (pending FINA invitation – this was a FINA “B” time).

Komarnycky had a massive drop in this race between last year’s trials and Worlds, and though she was faster here than she was last March, she wasn’t anywhere near the 4:38 she went in Shanghai. With Horner already hot on her heels, this bad swim (despite being fully tapered) cost her a spot on the squad in her best event. Her last chance for London will now come in the 800 free, though she’d have to put up a performance that we haven’t come close to seeing from her if she wants to knock off Brittany MacLean and/or clear the FINA A-time (would be a 5-second drop).

As it is, a great swim for Horner and a second Olympic Team for her.

Karyn Jewell went a best time of 4:45.26 for 3rd, and Erika Seltenreich-Hodgson went another best time, improving her mark by 8 seconds on the day, with a 4:45.65.

Full Day 2 Results available here.

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About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of SwimSwam.com. He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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