2013santaclara Cullen Jones
Courtesy of: JD Lasica
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KNOXVILLE, Tennessee, December 5. THE 2013 edition of the USA Swimming Winter Nationals opened up with a bang as a U.S. National Age Group record took a tumble in the early relays. Additionally, SwimMAC collected a meet record in the men's relay as well. NCAP's Janet Hu also tied a U.S. NAG to round out the fireworks this morning.

Women's 200 free relay

SwimMAC Carolina's women's 200 free relay, bolstered by some seriously fast post-grads, led the way in qualifying with a 1:29.60. Madison Kennedy (22.36), Kelsi Hall (22.26), Kathryn Sauborn (23.15) and Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace (21.83) put together the top time of the morning, just a second back of the meet record of 1:28.63 set by Arizona a year ago in Austin, Texas. There's little doubt that meet mark will fall this evening.

Elizabeth Pelton (22.64), Kaylin Bing (22.42), Farida Osman (22.41) and Kristen Vredeveld (22.54) produced the top college-based swim with a 1:30.01 for the California A team, while Rachel Bootsma (22.72), Cindy Tran (22.23), Rachael Acker (22.21) and Mikkel-Anne Stipe (22.92) posted a third-seeded 1:30.08 as Cal's B team.

Michigan (1:30.40), Louisville (1:30.70), Indiana (1:30.87), NCAP (1:31.09) and Louisville B (1:33.13) rounded out the top eight with recently-named World Swimmer of the Year Katie Ledecky showing off some sprint skill with a 22.41 anchor for NCAP. Janet Hu had the top leadoff with a 21.90 for NCAP as well. That just missed the U.S. National Age Group record of 21.89 set by Faith Johnson for the 17-year-old Hu.

Notably, Hu (21.90), Laura Branton (23.45), Kylie Jordan (23.33) and Ledecky (22.41), all 15-17, did produce a U.S. National Age Group record for 15-18 relays as the 1:31.09 surpassed the 1:31.84 set by SwimMAC's Kathleen Baker, Nora McCullagh, Caitlin Casazza and Lauren Rhodes last year.

Men's 200 free relay
SwimMAC Carolina's post-grad crew clipped the meet record in the morning as Tim Phillips (19.92), Dax Hill (19.23), Eric Knight (19.22) and Cullen Jones (19.14) powered their way to a swift 1:17.51. That swim beat the Vlad Morozov-led meet record of 1:17.90 set by Southern California back in 2010.

Louisville's Caryle Blondell (20.29), Joao De Lucca (19.23), Kameron Chastain (19.81) and Trevor Carroll (19.56) put together a second-place time of 1:18.89, while Michigan's Bruno Ortiz (19.83), Dylan Bosch (19.81), Anders Nielsen (19.67) and Kyle Whitaker (19.99) wound up third in 1:19.30.

Michigan B (1:19.90), Tennessee (1:20.23), California B (1:20.38), Louisville B (1:20.52) and NYAC (1:21.05) rounded out the top eight heading into the championship head tonight.

Women's 500 free
Just days after gracing the Swimming World Magazine cover, World Swimmer of the Year Katie Ledecky demonstrated that she's definitely ready for a big meet. After anchoring a National Age Group record in the relay with some sprinter speed, Ledecky topped middle distance qualifying in 4:33.92. That's the third-fastest time ever for the NCAP swimmer as she's likely going to take a run at her lifetime best of 4:31.38 from February of this year later this evening.

Additionally, if Ledecky, just 16, were already in college her time would have been an NCAA A cut and the fastest in the nation this year right now.

The rest of the finale is nearly a dual meet between California, IX3 Sports and Indiana. While Cal's Missy Franklin (4:38.33) and IX3's Chloe Sutton (4:39.07) comprised an amazing top three, IU's Lindsay Vrooman (4:41.96), Cal's Melanie Karlen (4:42.92), IU's Haley Lips (4:43.09), Ohio State's Sam Cheverton (4:43.44) and IX3's Ashley Twichell (4:43.56) qualified fourth through eighth to round out the championship heat.

Sutton definitely is showing signs of her recent technique-focused training in Raleigh as her time this morning is her fourth-fastest ever. Her lifetime best is a 4:36.76 from back in 2010, and she's at least assured of beating her second-best of 4:38.47 tonight. Franklin, meanwhile, clocked her second-best time behind a 4:34.62 from March of this year.

Men's 500 free
Michigan's Connor Jaeger put on a show in the men's 500 free as he clocked a 4:15.10 in the preliminary heats. That's good enough to clear the NCAA A cut in the event, and is several seconds ahead of the rest of the pack.

That pack is pretty familiar for Jaeger, however, with the rest of the top four spots taken up by fellow Wolverines. Michigan's Anders Nielsen (4:18.51) and Michael Wynalda (4:19.45) qualified second and fourth, while post-grad Michael Klueh raced his way to third in 4:18.76.

Utah's Bence Kiraly touched fifth in 4:19.75, while California's Jeremy Bagshaw claimed sixth in 4:19.94. Crimson's Liam Egan (4:20.23) and Perth's Stephen Milne (4:20.51) rounded out the rest of the championship eight.

Egan, just 17 and the youngest of the field, definitely demolished his lifetime best. He entered this morning with his personal record of 4:24.33 set at Juniors a year ago. That's a remarkable four second drop with finals to go for the future Stanford Cardinal.

Women's 200 IM
California's Celina Li cleared the NCAA A cut in the event and nearly beat her lifetime best in the process as Cal's Queen of the Pool blistered the morning with a swift 1:55.55 to lead a large crew of Golden Bears into the championship heat. Her time this morning nearly beat her personal record of 1:55.28 from last year's Winter Nationals.

Teammate Elizabeth Pelton raced her way to second in 1:55.89, just outside of the NCAA A cut, while SwimMAC's Kathleen Baker, 16, put a U.S. National Age Group record in the realm of possibility with a 1:56.29. That's her lifetime best by a bit, downing the 1:56.53 she set at last year's Winter Junior Nationals. Depending on how much she has left in the gas this evening, she has a chance to take a run at Dagny Knutson's 2008 15-16 U.S. National Age Group record of 1:54.03.

NCAP's Janet Hu popped a fourth-place 1:57.31 in what has been a busy morning that included a near U.S. NAG in the 50 free during relay duty this morning. SwimMAC's Katie Meili wound up fifth in 1:57.50.

American and U.S. Open record holder Caitlin Leverenz of Cal cruised to sixth in 1:57.57, while Michigan's Courtney Beidler claimed seventh in 1:57.74. SoFlo's Alia Atkinson, fresh off an incredible few months on the short course meter circuit as part of the FINA World Cup, qualified eighth in 1:58.30.

Men's 200 IM
Darian Townsend, who has been off running roughshod on the FINA Masters World Record books for the 25-29 age division, returned to more orthodox competition in a big way as he topped the men's 200 IM with a 1:43.32. That's his third-fastest time in the event according to USA Swimming's SWIMS database. He's likely going to clear his lifetime best of 1:42.13 from the 2009 Arizona Short Course Senior State Championships this evening as he puts up a big time in the finale.

NCAP's Andrew Seliskar, 17, checked in with a 1:43.50. That's his first time under 1:44, bettering his personal record of 1:44.03 from the 2013 NCSA Junior Nationals in March. Now that he broke through that barrier, we will have to see if he has enough in the tank tonight to beat David Nolan's amazing 2011 17-18 U.S. National Age Group record of 1:41.39.

Michigan's Dylan Bosch raced his way to third in 1:44.16, while teammate Kyle Whitaker placed fourth in 1:44.62.

California's Josh Prenot (1:45.92), Indiana's Stephen Schmuhl (1:45.96), Utah's Kristian Kron (1:46.38) and Queens' Matt Josa (1:46.39) also made their way into the championship finale this evening.

Women's 50 free
California's Natalie Coughlin certainly impressed with a top time of 21.79 to lead the way in prelims this morning in the women's splash-and-dash, but top billing out of prelims has to go to NCAP's Janet Hu.

Hu, who already charted a 21.90 this morning as a relay leadoff to break 22 seconds for the first time, tied the 17-18 U.S. National Age Group record in the event with a 21.89 to qualify second amongst a group of mostly 20--year-old veterans. That swim matched Faith Johnson's mark from earlier this year to tie her as one of the fastest 18-and-unders in the history of the sport.

SwimAtlanta's Amanda Weir (21.97), SwimMAC's Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace (22.07), SwimMAC's Madison Kennedy (22.08), Utah's Traycie Swartz (22.36), Louisville's Kelsi Worrell (22.40) and SwimMAC's Kelsi Hall (22.45) made up the rest of what is a veteran-laden finale.

Men's 50 free
It proved to be a strong preliminary field as it took a 19.5 just to make the finale this evening, and that's not even completely settled with a swimoff in the offing in the men's 50 free.

NYAC's Josh Schneider dropped the top time of the morning with a swift 19.17. That's tied for his seventh-best swim ever, and is nearly his best since his career year in 2010 where he turned in a ridiculously fast 18.93 at the NCAA Division I Championships.

SwimAtlanta's Karl Krug qualified second in 19.26, his best time ever as he just beat his personal best of 19.27 from the 2011 Southeastern Conference Championships.

California's Nathan Adrian, in his first orthodox meet back since Barcelona, qualified third in 19.31, while Tucson Ford's Matt Grevers provides yet another world-class talent in the finale with a fourth-place 19.36.

NYAC's Adam Brown checked in with a fifth-place 19.37, while Louisville's Joao De Lucca took sixth in 19.45. Utah's Nicholas Soedel rounded out the finale locks with a seventh-place 19.47, while SwimMAC's Cullen Jones and Cal's Tyler Messerschmidt set up a swimoff with matching 19.53s for eighth. Messerschmidt won the swimoff, 19.35 to 19.56.


Results: U.S. Winter Nationals: Day One, Prelims