Women’s 100 Meter Butterfly – US Nationals Preview
- Day 3, Friday, August 8th
- Defending national champ: Dana Vollmer, 57.53
- Defending U.S. Open champ: Felicia Lee, 58.94
- Time to make the 2013 US National Team (#6 Nationally at selection meets): 59.30 – Christine Magnuson
The 100 fly has been a event of major turnover for the U.S. as of late. 4 of last year’s 6 national teamers aren’t competing at all this season. Defending national and world champ Dana Vollmer is absent – though she hasn’t officially announced any retirement, she hasn’t competed since winning the World Championship last summer. Christine Magnuson is retired. Olivia Scott is still taking a leave of absence in Auburn. Erika Erndl has only raced once in non-Masters competition since last summer, and that was all the way back in January.
The steadying presence in U.S. butterfly has been 2012 Olympian Claire Donahue. She’ll be one of just a few swimmers in this field with a strong international resume, and that makes her a front-runner in name recognition if nothing else. Donahue had her best season in the run up to the London Olympics, but still went fast enough to make the A final at Worlds last summer, and has had some solid showings on the Grand Prix circuit this season.
It might be the perfect time for Stanford’s Felicia Lee to take the next big step, as well. Lee was the U.S. Open champ last summer after just missing the Worlds team by one spot a few months earlier. Lee has never gotten back to her crazy lifetime-best of 58.41 from all the way back in 2010, but the stars seem to be aligning for her this season. Lee is finally fully healthy, she’s coming off of an NCAA championship in the short course 100 fly and is beginning her professional career this summer as the established crowd starts to retire out of this race. Keep an eye out for Lee this summer.
Speaking of swimmers getting hot at the right time, how about rising USC junior Kendyl Stewart? After a somewhat disappointing college season, Stewart shattered her own lifetime-best just a few weeks ago at the Fran Crippen Swim Meet of Champions, hosted under the same Southern California sun that will overlook nationals next month. Stewart went 58.52 there, and regardless of how her taper turns out, merely repeating that time should be enough to garner a championship final slot.
After that, things start to really tighten up, with plenty of rising swimmers looking to steal their moment in the spotlight. Mission Viejo 16-year-old Katie McLaughlin might be the next big thing in the 200 fly – does she have the short speed to contend for a national team spot here? McLaughlin, an incoming high school senior, has already been sub-minute this year, hitting a lifetime-best at the Mesa Grand Prix.
The NCAA offers an excellent slate of top-notch swimmers. Kelsi Worrell was the national runner-up there, and comes out of a Louisville program that seems to get hotter and hotter. Dani Barbiea was one of the big early-season shockers of the college season and finaled at the 2013 U.S. Open. Lauren Harrington won the B final at last summer’s U.S. Open with a breakout swim of 59.52, and is coming off of back-to-back national title runs with her Georgia Bulldogs. Then there’s UNLV’s Katelyne Herrington, Kentucky’s Tina Bechtel and USC’s Jasmine Tosky to watch out for.
One of the more interesting stories is that of Amanda Kendall. A former college star who saw her career flame out with two different schools, Kendall is making a comeback with T2Aquatics in Florida. She was a 2012 Olympic Trials finalist, and has already been flirting with the minute barrier on several occasions this season, though she hasn’t competed since the Mesa Grand Prix in April. If she’s entered and ready to go, Kendall just might find that a new training home is all she needs to unlock her vast potential.
Outside of McLaughlin, there are a few good young athletes to mention as well. Stanford-bound Janet Hu is a top-notch swimmer out of Nation’s Capital. SwimMAC enters the versatile Kathleen Baker, who is better in the backstrokes but still tough here. Courtney Weaver is a Georgia commit who’s already been 1:00 this season and Minnesota-bound Danielle Nack cracked a minute last summer at Junior Nationals.
It’s also worth noting that Katie Hoff has dabbled in the 100 fly this season in her under-the-radar comeback story. There’s still a lot up in the air with Hoff this summer, but she’s an interesting name to watch in a race that feels like it could be anybody’s game for the international travel spots up for grabs.
1. Claire Donahue, Western Kentucky (57.42 – 2012 Olympic Games)
2. Felicia Lee, Stanford (58.41 – 2010 Nationals)
3. Kendyl Stewart, North Coast Aquatic/USC (58.52 – 2014 Fran Crippen SMOC)
4. Kelsi Worrell, Louisville (59.20 – 2013 Mesa Grand Prix)
5. Katie McLaughlin, Mission Viejo (59.07 – 2013 Junior Nationals)
6. Dani Barbiea, Missouri (59.81 – 2013 U.S. Open)
7. Amanda Kendall, T2Aquatics (59.20 – 2012 Olympic Trials)
8. Lauren Harrington, Athens Bulldog (59.52 – 2008 U.S. Open)
Note: Athletes are listed under the college/club that, to the best of our knowledge, they’re currently training with.