Wednesday, August 4, 2010

U.S. Nationals: The Good, The Not-So-Good, and The Ugly

The first finals session did not show off clear American superiority throughout the world rankings, but the usual suspects raced hard and qualified for the Pan Pacs team, with hopes of going even faster there. Swimmers such as Peter Vanderkaay and Ariana Kukors did what they needed to do to qualify for Pan Pacs, but in most cases, the times did not match up to what I had expected. For the most part, swimmers are throwing the times out the window here and simply racing, and when they start racing again at Pan Pacs, they will have an opportunity to go even faster. In the midst, there were some definite highlights, as well as some moments that didn't turn out the way swimmers had hoped.

The meet opened with Christine Magnuson upsetting Dana Vollmer in the 100 fly. Magnuson dropped more than second from her in-season best, while Vollmer missed her's by a tenth. Good sign for the rest of the Tucson Ford squad, while both Vollmer and Natalie Coughlin of Cal did not look as good as expected. Could be trouble for their upcoming events.

Ariana Kukors got over a big hump by claiming the National title in the 200 IM. She was nearly four and a half seconds off her world record, but she still has the potential to drop a 2:09 or even 2:08 later this summer. In the three spots behind her, nothing but promise. After two seasons of struggle, Caitlin Leverenz finally went her best time and finished in the top two at a major selection meet for the first time. She clocked 2:10.84, and she could be favored to make the team again, in the 400 IM and/or 200 breast. Leverenz ran down Kukors on the breast, the leg where Kukors pulled away from the field to win in Rome. Both Morgan Scroggy and Missy Franklin both posted 2:11s. We will see the best from them in their preferred events today, the 200 free and 100 back, respectively.

My favorite moment of the night has to be Katie Hoff's win in the 400 free. I watched her break world records in the 400 IM twice, in Melbourne 2007 and Olympic Trials 2008. She showed great emotion both times, but just as much, if not more, with her win last night. The time is nothing special, as it only moves her into a three-way tie for fourth in the world with Rebecca Adlington and Bronte Barratt, but she put a lot of emotion into that race, and it was something special when she won. Allison Schmitt and Chloe Sutton both swam solid times to round out the places, but Sutton had one of the ugly displays of the night. She reacted to the narrow third place with flailing arms and looked very angry. She has the 200 today and 800 on Saturday to channel that anger, and her times could be very fast.

One of the favoritesin the men's 100 breast, Eric Shanteau could not get into his usual gear and ended up third behind solid swims from Mike Alexandrov and Mark Gangloff. He had another of the ugly moments; he looked sad, almost about to cry, as he sat in the water. He, too, will have opportunities to turn the meet around, in the 200 IM and 200 breast. The other ugly moments of day 1 came in the prelims of the men's 400 free. Dan Madwed swam 9.5 seconds slower than he did at the World Champs, finishing 18th before scratching. Ricky Berens swam 5 seconds slower than his time from the Charlotte UltraSwim, failing to advance at all. Not good signs for their upcoming events.

Ryan Lochte finished things off with a solid 4:09.98 victory in the 400 IM. Amid questions abotu his breaststroke due to a groin injury, Lochte took off on the second lap of breaststroke, claiming his groin simply did not hurt. Additionally, any weakness in his fly is gone (he could even be a factor in the 100 fly on Thursday), and he utilized his walls better than ever in the event. He raced Tyler Clary until the 250 mark, until Clary hit a wall and fell well off the pace, similar to his 200 IM at the NCAA championships. Hoping that Clary as well can turn his meet around headed in the 200 fly and 200 IM.

Prediction contest scores; these are unofficial, and I will double-check and correct as needed:

1. G. John 63
2. Reed 59
3. Me 50
4. Tom 49
5. Matt 46
6. Rob 41
7. Chris "HA!" DeSantis 38
7. Jerry 38
9. John 36
10. Braden 35
11. Andy 28


  1. Hi we are big fans here in the Sutton family. Chloe actually thought she won and was excited!!
    The flailing was celebration! She was happy. That is funny you saw it as upset. Chloe gets sad but never angry. Keep up the great writing. Rewatch that! She is celebrating I promise.

  2. Whoops sorry about that. Did look like she beat Allison on the end there, so that makes sense.
    Really appreciate the support!

  3. I don't know how old you are but I know you are young and brilliant. Chloe likes to write and we are endlessly impressed with your ability to focus what is going on in swimming into great words. Thanks the comment above. It would be very embarrassing if someone thought she was throwing a fit. She is a gentle kind spirit who is competitive but would never throw a fit. I haven't seen one since she was about 2 years old. haha --Wendy

  4. I am actually 16. I really appreciate your comments! It means a lot.
    I could not see Chloe very well at the end of the race, so I made an assumption that I see is completely inaccurate. Definitely looking forward to seeing her race some awesome races in the 200 and 800!