Friday, August 6, 2010

U.S. Nationals: Day 4

Prelims this morning set up some tight races for finals this evening, which will become even more interesting since many of the favored swimmers did not advance to those finals. The men's 100 free, women's 200 fly, and women's 200 back are some of the most wide-open races at this year's Nationals, while the men's 200 IM has the potential to be an amazing duel between the two best swimmers in the world. In addition, a budding sprint star could shine tonight and show the world that he is one of, if not the, best 100 freestyler(s) in the world.

Nathan Adrian delivered the most impressive swim of Nationals thus far with his 21.70 win in the 50 free. He moves past French star Fred Bousquet as the second-fastest swimmer in the world, behind Cesar Cielo's 21.55 from the Paris Open. The scary part: Adrian is a 100 freestyler. Unlike the best sprinters in the world, Adrian is a 100 swimmer who comes down to the 50. Cielo, Alain Bernard, and Eamon Sullivan, among others, are 50 swimmers who go up to the 100. Adrian looks really scary for the swim he has tonight. Many, such as Matt Salzberg, believe that Adrian will definitely swim under 48 seconds, a feat only two men have achieved in a textile suit (Pieter van den Hoogenband and Stefan Nystrand). I think that such a swim is certainly within the realm of possibility, although a 48.0 or 48.1 may be a bit more realistic.

The battle should be for second, but maybe one of the other seven swimmers can challenge Adrian. Relay legend Jason Lezak qualified first in prelims with a 48.92, the only time under 49 seconds. Ryan Lochte and Matt Grevers both swam very fast splits on last year's World Championships 4x100 free relay that won gold. Dave Walters finished seventh in Rome in an American record-time of 47.33. Garrett Weber-Gale was the first American under 48. Nick Brunelli (50 free) and Scot Robison (200 free) both have finals experience already this week, and both are targeting relay bids tonight. It will be interesting to see if several swimmers can post 48-mid swims, which would make for a strong relay bid come Pan Pacs.

In the women's 200 fly, Teresa Crippen continued her long course break-out meet by leading 200 fly prelims in 2:09.15. Crippen, who will also swim the 200 back tonight, is on the verge of making her first Pan Pacs team and joining her brother Fran, who qualified in the 10k open water race. Crippen will be surrounded by two Olympians in the final, as Kim Vandenberg and Kathleen Hersey qualified second and third. American record-holder Mary Mohler looms as a threat from lane two, while four more less experienced swimmers complete the final: Rachel Naurath, Jasmine Tosky, Tanya Krisman, and Andie Taylor. Tosky already has a chance to make the World Championships team for next year, following a sixth-place finish in the 200 free, while all have a chance to make the Pan Pacs team with a top-three finish.

World Champs bronze medalist Elizabeth Beisel will swim from lane four in the 200 back, and she looks to finally get on to the Pan Pacs team, after finishing fourth in the 400 IM last night. Her prelim time of 2:10.25 is nearly a second ahead of second qualifier Morgan Scroggy, who is already on the Pan Pacs team in the 200 free and 200 IM, as is third-qualifier Missy Franklin. Crippen has another chance to make the team in this event, as does Liz Pelton. Pelton, who has the top-ranked American time in the 100 back this year (59.99), has not yet made the Pan Pacs team, and the 200 back is her last, yet possibly best chance to make it.

I wrote my blog on the 200 IM this morning, before I realized Lochte would swim the 100 free final before that of the 200 IM. Whether that was a mistake or not, Lochte will not be as formidable a challenge for Phelps as I once thought, and a world record for either is certainly out of reach. A 1:55-range swim, however, is not, and they might even be able to reach a 1:54-high if Lochte can recover quickly from the 100 free and really push Phelps to greater glories.

Updated predictions for finals:

Men's 100 Free
1. Nathan Adrian
2. Jason Lezak
3. Ryan Lochte
4. Dave Walters
5. Matt Grevers
6. Garrett Weber-Gale

Women's 200 Fly
1. Kathleen Hersey
2. Kim Vandenberg
3. Mary Mohler

Men's 200 IM
1. Michael Phelps
2. Ryan Lochte
3. Eric Shanteau

Women's 200 Back
1. Elizabeth Beisel
2. Missy Franklin
3. Liz Pelton

Current scores in the prediction contest; getting tight at the top, but DeSantis is nowhere near there!

1. Tom 149
2. David "THE Swim Geek" Rieder 148
2. Reed 148
4. Rob 134
4. G. John 134
4. Matt 134
7. Andy 125
8. John 120
9. Jerry 117
10. Braden 114
11. Chris "NOT The Swim Geek" DeSantis 110

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