With the second evening of finals in Palo Alto about to get underway, here are some predictions for the action to come. Look for great racing to be the theme of the night, and I don’t think there is a lock winner in any of the events up for grabs. Without further ado…
The women’s 100 back kicks off the action for the night. Missy Franklin is the world champ in the 200 back and has a best time this year of 59.56. Meanwhile, Elizabeth Pelton made the semi-finals of this event at worlds, while Rachel Bootsma clocked 50.53 in the 100-yard back at NCSA Junior Nationals. And finally, Jenny Connolly upstaged all of them to take the top seed! Should be tight, but Franklin will come out on top.
Peter Vanderkaay goes into the final of the men’s 200 free as an overwhelming favorite after finishing fourth in the 400 free at Worlds last week and clocking 1:46.07 on the U.S. men’s victorious 800 free relay in Shanghai. Ricky Berens, another member of that relay, is in the field, as is NCAA runner-up Dax Hill and 400 free champ Matt McLean. The final will have some University of Virginia flavor to it, as three swimmers who swam for the Cavaliers this year will take to the blocks: McLean, Scot Robison, and Peter Geissenger.
Olympic silver medalist Matt Grevers qualified first for the men’s 100 back final in 53.96, but 200 back World and Olympic champ Ryan Lochte is right behind him at 54.00. Grevers touched out Lochte for a spot on the Olympic team in this event three years ago, so Lochte will be out for revenge tonight. Look for both to finish in the low-53 range, perhaps even sub-53. Meanwhile, Nick Thoman and David Plummer finished fourth and fifth, respectively, at Worlds last week. The field is a deep one, as always, with the likes of Eugene Godsoe, Ben Hesen, David Russell, and Kyle Owens as threats.
Allison Schmitt is the class of the field in the women’s 200 free, having finished sixth in the event at Worlds last week. She holds the American record in the event at 1:54.96. Dagny Knutson joined Schmitt on the winning 800 free relay at Worlds last week, while Schmitt’s University of Georgia teammates Megan Romano, Chelsea Nauta, and Shannon Vreeland will challenge from the top three lanes. The surprise of the morning, however, was Lauren Perdue; Perdue cut more than a second from her seed time to qualify second in 1:59.29. Perdue will be the one who goes out fast and tries to hang on, just like she did at NCAAs, where she ended up finishing second to Schmitt.
The men’s 200 fly is a wide open affair tonight in the absence of World champion Michael Phelps. Tyler Clary finished ninth at World Championships, while Dan Madwed and Davis Tarwater both snuck under 1:58 for the top two seeds. Clary and Tarwater have by far the top two best times in this event of the field, 1:53.64 and 1:54.46, both from the suit era. Meanwhile, Mark Dylla and Bobby Bollier finished second and fourth, respectively, in this race last year. However, I think Clary will take this title and prove that he is one of America’s top two 200 butterflyers, even after his Shanghai disappointment.