PHOENIX, Arizona, August 26. ALL eyes were on Ruta Meilutyte on the first day of competition at the world junior championships in Dubai, and while the Lithuanian swam well in the semifinals of the 50 breaststroke, her 30.04 wasn't the highlight of the day. Mack Horton was the star of the first finals session as he collected two gold medals in the first and last men's event of the day. He kicked things off with a 3:47.12 in the 400 free for 11th in the world, then anchored the 400 free relay to a win, splitting 49.33.
Hidden in that 400 free relay was Caeleb Dressel's anchor leg swim of 48.29 to bring the United States up to the silver medal position. Dressel was the only swimmer under 49 seconds in the race, setting him up as the hot favorite for the 100 free later in the week.
The United States picked up two gold medals, both on the women's side. Ella Eastin held off teammate Becca Mann in the 400 IM to win with a 4:40.02 ahead of Mann's 4:40.26. Both were a little bit off their best times, but were easily the class of the field. The other gold medal came in a barrier-busting 800 free relay, when the Americans posted a 7:59.42, the first time a relay has gone under eight minutes at the meet.
Catch our recap of the meet on our world channel at swimmingworld.com.
Alicia Coutts nearly broke a short course meters world record on Saturday at the Australian nationals, posting a 57.71 in the 100 IM to come within 26 hundredths of a second of Katinka Hosszu's record from two weeks ago. Coutts finished out her meet with a 2:05.82 in the 200 IM, which is more than two seconds slower than Hosszu's world record. On the bright side, Coutts did set two Commonwealth records with those swims.
Ellen Gandy was another bright light at the Australian nationals. In her first year as an Australian after representing Great Britain for many years while living in Australia, Gandy posted a great 200 fly time of 2:02.88, breaking the Commonwealth record and setting herself up as the country's go-to butterflyer in the years leading up to the 2016 Olympics.
Back here in the United States, college teams are gearing up for a new season. Some of the teams, such as the University of Tennessee, started workouts last week and already took team photos, while others are getting into gear this week. Missy Franklin arrived on campus at Berkeley this past weekend and will be setting things up before classes begin on Thursday. But at the same time there was some sad news to report, as North Carolina A&T University announced that it was phasing out its women's swimming program, as the team could not help the university's goal of winning conference championships. Since there is no women's swimming in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, the athletic department surmised that swimming at the university would essentially be a useless program in the overall scheme of reaching departmental goals. The team would end by the 2015-2016 season, and all current members of the team would have their scholarships honored past that.