If we thought Day 2 of the 2013 National Long Course Championship was exciting, we were not prepared for what Day 3 (Wednesday night) was about to bring to the table. The tension and anticipation was set even higher when swimmers learned that multi-Olympian Josh Davis was at the meet, giving awards. Davis had been in Atlanta hosting a Mutual of Omaha “BREAKout! Swim Clinic” and wanted to return to the home pool of the 1996 Olympics. When asked how it felt to be back in such an iconic area for him, Davis stated that it felt great, and that “this pool changed [his] life.”
Kishwaukee Family YMCA’s Caitlynn Moon started out the meet with the women’s 800 m freestyle, “taking no prisoners” as she raced to the gold. She was seeded second coming into this event behind M.E. Lyons, Ohio’s Shaylynn Spelman. Spelman was seeded almost a solid 7-seconds ahead of Moon in this event, but ultimately, Moon touched the wall at last night’s finals session, looking up at the scoreboard to read 8:57.44 next to her name. Spelman finished second in the event with a 9:03.48, while West Shore, PA’s Sabrina Mortell took bronze with a 9:07.50 (about half-a-second drop from her preliminary swim).
This event alone gave Moon her third National title in 2.5 days of competition. But she didn’t stop there. For Moon, the fourth time is also a charm.
Later in the evening, Moon had those remaining on the pool deck on their feet as she secured her fourth gold & national meet title in the women’s 200 m freestyle. She was not always in the lead, though. Greater Flint’s Anna Wujciak was not going down without a fight. Wujciak remained ahead of Moon by about half-a-second, even after the turn coming out of the 150 m mark, but Moon, as she said later in an interview with Olympian, is just “more of a ‘finisher’.”
Moon touched the wall literally fingertips ahead of Wujciak, only .10-seconds separating the two, Moon at a 2:03.77, and Wujciak at a 2:03.87. Northwest North Carolina YMCA’s Rachel Brown collected the bronze medal with a time of 2:06.15. This was roughly a 2-second drop in time from prelims for Brown.
The 100 m butterfly for both the women & men kept the energy going after that 800 m freestyle, with Upper Main Line’s Caroline Apathy taking the C-final in 1:04.20. The B-final went to Triangle Area’s Haley Bishop with a 1:02.97.
Ultimately, Apathy’s teammate, from Upper Main Line, Maddie Zimmerman took home the gold in this event, dropping a full second from prelims, with a 1:01.07. Brandywine’s Elise Lankiewicz took the silver with a 1:02.05, and Middle Tyger’s Katrina Konopka took bronze (not far behind Lankiewicz) at 1:02.29.
On the men’s side of the event, Somerset Valley’s David Chung took the C-final in 57.74. His teammate, Brad Zdroik, was victorious in the B-final right after, with a time of 56.07.
The A-final was another close race, but in the end, Middle Tyger’s Justin Mehl took the gold ahead of Wilton’s Tommy Kealy. Mehl clocked in at 55.42, while Kealy took the silver medal with a 56.07. Taking bronze was Anne Arundel’s David Harmon at 56.23.
The women’s 200 m breaststroke was yet another example of the young talent that the world of swimming possesses and has to look forward to watching for quite some time. The C-final belonged to Montclair’s 15-year-old Cha O’Leary, touching in at 2:43.00. 16-year-old Cheshire swimmer Adrianna Ciebielski took the B-final in a 2:40.87.
The real shock and awe, though, came when 15-year-old Savanna Faulconer took the championship final by storm. Going in to the finals, Faulconer was seeded almost 7-full seconds ahead of the competition, one part of that competition being Triangle Area’s Olivia Ontjes (the new national record holder in the women’s 50 m breaststroke, who is 16-yrs-old). Faulconer’s race did not disappoint as spectators watched her touch the wall, securing gold, at 2:31.75, almost a full 5-seconds ahead of second place finisher Alyssa Storino from the Wilton Wahoos, who held on ahead of Ontjes with a 2:36.53. Ontjes took bronze with a 2:36.95.
The men’s 200 breaststroke opened with Western’s Kyle Weston taking the C-final with a 2:28.09. The B-final then went to West Monmouth’s Michael Oliver, who touched in at 2:25.25.
The race that really got everyone cheering, though, was the championship final. Going into the heat with a 2:20.83, Powel Crosley’s Jonathan Rutter was seeded first by 2-seconds, ahead of national record holder Conner McHugh, and Somerset Valley’s Zack Warner. Rutter took the lead, and stayed ahead after the first 100 m. Coming back in a 34.95 (!!!), Rutter secured his victory and touched in at 2:17.86, breaking a 1992 record set by Marty Hubbell. He broke the record by 1.36-seconds.
Warner and McHugh battled it out for the silver medal spot, but it was Warner who succeeded, finishing just .20-seconds ahead of McHugh, at 2:20.23. McHugh brought home a bronze with a 2:20.43.
The men’s 200 m freestyles featured Kyle Neri in the C-final from Cheshire, swimming a 1:57.36. In the B-final, Fanwood Scotch’s Ryan Gajdzisz touched in first at 1:54.78.
In the championship final, it was Triangle Area’s Colin Ellington who came out victorious from lane 10, with a time of 1:53.29. Ellington dropped about 2-seconds from his prelim swim. West Cook’s Nikita Bondarenko and Middle Tyger’s Justin Mehl went 2-3, with times of 1:53.46 and 1:53.65, respectively.
The 400 m freestyle relays concluded yesterday’s meet, with the women’s team from Somerset Valley taking gold with a 3:52.18, ahead of the teams from Triangle Area (3:52.74) and Middle Tyger (3:54.02).
The men’s team from Triangle Area brought it home in a 3:30.16, just off of the national record. Middle Tyger was close behind in 3:30.69, while Somerset Valley was third in 3:31.48.
**(All videos in this post are credited to, and were captured by, Olympian Josh Davis and edited by Kelly McCommons. Kelly was working with TakeItLive when he edited.)**