Women’s 100 Meter Breaststroke – US Nationals Preview
- Day 4, Saturday, August 9th
- Defending national champ: Breeja Larson, 1:06.16
- Defending U.S. Open champ: Lorna Tonks, 1:07.79 – top American: Emma Reaney,1:07.97, 2nd
- Time to make the 2013 US National Team (#6 Nationally at selection meets): 1:08.00-Katy Freeman
Queen B of the breaststrokes, Breeja Larson, has been quite the speed demon since her unheard of breakthrough at the 2012 Olympic Trials. However, that was two years ago. We’ve already predicted that the Queen may be dethroned in the 200, and it may be dejavu in the 100 come day 4 thanks to Jessica Hardy.
If there was one word to define Hardy, it would be speed. That’s what she does, who she is, and how she swims. While she may be the oldest of our picks, her front end speed has shown no sign of aging. The 27 year old California native is known for getting to the halfway mark first, and with a solid rest under her belt, she’ll take off like a cannon as soon as she hits the water.
Now of course the 100 takes more than a brisk first fifty; having a strong back half as well really separates the girls from the women. Cue in Micah Lawrence and Breeja Larson. While these two young guns tend to put their eggs in the 200 breaststroke basket, but their endurance from those excruciating base pace sets will pay off in the second half of the hundred.
Lawrence, who is on a summer hot streak in the 200, is beyond capable of running Hardy down in the homestretch. The SwimMAC star was third in this event last year behind none other than Hardy and Larson. With a new found confidence from the growing number in her 200 breaststroke win column, Lawrence could be a threat to shake up the top three. The same can be said for Larson: the SC American record holder, defending national champion, 2012 Olympian (the list goes on and on). With two solid long course seasons under her belt, the confidence is there. Larson’s secret weapon is her smooth stroke. While most true 100 breaststrokers tend to get short towards the finish, Larson is all ride and glide. The distance she’s able to travel per stroke could be Hardy’s kryptonite come the last 15 meters.
While the trifecta of Hardy, Larson, and Lawrence may be hard to break up, there is a slew of hot shot college swimmers who have the power to make the top eight more than interesting. The most notable is Emma Reaney, who seems to set records every time she hits the water. While times and records are great for paper, Reaney is just flat out exciting to watch in the pool, (I would know, I saw her heading for home while I had a lap and half left during her record setting swim in the 200 breast at ACC Championships). Her strength and power is unlike any other swimmer in this top eight, and just like Larson, her stroke count down the stretch will allow her to sneak up on anyone’s trail.
Katie Meili and Molly Hannis could make this race closer than expected with the strides they’ve taken over the past two seasons. Meili exploded out of the Ivy League and hasn’t slowed down. Choosing to train with SwimMAC has certainly improved her long course stats, and training alongside Emma Reaney is an extra bonus. Hannis has faltered in her past short course seasons, failing to make the A final in 2013 after an impressive 57.3 relay split and just barely making it into the top 8 back in March. However, when the pool is switched from short course to long course, Hannis has held her own, placing fourth at last year’s Nationals. Her mind boggling turnover rate somehow successfully translates over to the long course scene and if that remains consistent throughout the race, she could be in the mix to a make one of the plethora of teams that are being selected this summer.
The big names don’t stop there and the top eight is already 75% full. Emily McClellan is another breaststroker that sprung onto the scene without warning. This Panther alum is the owner of the third fastest 100 yard breaststroke in NCAA history, which came quickly in a breakout season. While some may overlooked McClellan due to her uprising at a mid-major school, she is the real deal. She’s hoping to have another quick breakout season but this time in the fifty meter pool. She could be a real contender to make the Pan Pac team even though she may have the shortest bio come the final top eight introduction bios.
Last but not least is the talented Laura Sogar. While the 200 breast is more her speed, she could be the one to sneak her way into this studded 100 breast final. If she gets an end lane, don’t count her out; she won her exhilarating 200 breast national championship in outside smoke fashion from lane one.
This will be the second summer that Rebecca Soni will be missing from the psych sheets due to retirement, but the group that has come after her has yet to disappoint, and this summer will be nothing less. They’re America’s hopes of bringing home hardware from Pan Pacs and while the world may be a little bit ahead of the U.S. ladies in the breaststrokes at times, this star-studded field is full of young blood that may be able to turn that around.
If you’re looking for a junior swimmer to watch, and this is one of the few races where there’s not a very highly ranked junior, pick up on SwimMAC’s Maija Roses. She split a 1:09 on SwimMAC’s 400 medley relay on Sunday night at Junior Nationals, and could be down to a 1:08 low flat-start at Nationals. If she does, top 8 is a possibility.
My Picks, along with best times:
1. Breeja Larson, Texas A&M (1:05.92 – 2012 Olympic Trials)
2. Jessica Hardy, Trojan Swim Club (1:04.45 – 2009 U.S. Open)
3. Micah Lawrence, SwimMAC Carolina (1:07.27 – 2013 U.S. Nationals)
4. Emma Reaney, Notre Dame/SwimMAC Carolina (1:07.97 – 2013 U.S. Open)
5. Emily McClellan, UW-Milwaukee/Minnesota (1:07.41 – 2012 Olympic Trials)
6. Katie Meili, SwimMAC Carolina (1:08.24 – 2013 U.S. Open)
7. Molly Hannis, Tennessee (1:07.39 – 2013 Charlotte Grand Prix)
8. Laura Sogar, Longhorn Aquatics (1:07.57 – 2013 Charlotte Grand Prix)