Nick Thoman
Courtesy of: Rob Schumacher - USA Today Sports
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KNOXVILLE, Tennessee, December 5. THE first night of action at the USA Swimming Winter Nationals featured plenty of meet record and U.S. National Age Group records as Nation's Capital, SwimMAC and California all had strong nights. Nick Thoman of SwimMAC, however, came the closest to an American record.

Women's 200 free relay

SwimMAC's post-grad foursome crushed the meet record in the women's 200-yard freestyle relay as Madison Kennedy (21.88), Kelsi Hall (21.72), Katie Meili (22.04) and Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace (21.55) teamed up with a sizzling 1:27.19. That swim demolished the previous mark of 1:28.63 set by a Margo Geer-led Arizona squad back in 2012, and was just a second off the U.S. Open mark of 1:26.20 set by Arizona back in 2009.

California's Missy Franklin (22.16), Rachel Bootsma (21.97), Cindy Tran (22.09) and Elizabeth Pelton (22.22) finished second in 1:28.44, also under the previous mark. That's an NCAA A cut for the Golden Bears, while Franklin came up a bit short of the NCAA A cut in the 50 free with her leadoff.

California's B squad of Kristen Vredeveld (23.01), Farida Osman (22.23), Rachael Acker (22.35) and Kaylin Bing (21.96) wound up third in 1:29.55.

Michigan (1:30.47), Louisville 91:31.06), Indiana (1:31.10), NCAP (1:31.44) and Louisville (1:33.21) rounded out the championship heat. NCAP's foursome of Janet Hu (22.10), Katie Ledecky (22.43), Kylie Jordan (23.55) and Laura Branton (23.56) missed out on lowering their U.S. 15-18 National Age Group record of 1:31.09 set this morning.

Men's 200 free relay
SwimMAC Carolina remained on fire with a relay sweep as Tim Phillips (19.94), Dax Hill (19.32), Eric Knight (19.25) and Cullen Jones (18.55) threw down a blistering 1:17.06 to lower their meet record of 1:17.51 set this morning in prelims.

California's Ryan Murphy (19.81), Tyler Messerschmidt (18.99), Henry Chung (19.69) and Seth Stubblefield (19.29) cleared the NCAA A cut with a second-place time of 1:17.78, while Louisville's Joao De Lucca (19.46), Caryle Blondell (19.26), Kameron Chastain (19.66) and Trevor Carroll (19.52) also beat the A cut with a third-place 1:17.90.

Michigan (1:19.07), Tennessee (1:19.12), Michigan (1:19.81), NYAC (1:19.92) and Louisville (1:21.69) also put up times in the championship finale.

Women's 500 free
A full second under the American record pace up through the 300-yard mark, World Swimmer of the Year Katie Ledecky fell off the pace down the stretch as she settled for the national title with a 4:32.37. It didn't help that almost no one in the stands cheered during the American-record attempt, so Ledecky finished with her second-best swim in the event. Her lifetime best is a 4:31.38 from February of this year in a high school competition.

California's Missy Franklin, meanwhile, the runner-up to Ledecky in the World Swimmer of the Year voting, snared second-place tonight in the middle distance event in 4:34.63. That blasted the NCAA A cut by several seconds, and just missed her lifetime best of 4:34.62 from March of this year. She's definitely in line for an NCAA title in the event in March 2014 if she and head coach Teri McKeever elect to try for it.

IX3's Chloe Sutton, who has definitely put a stronger focus on her short course swims, took third overall in 4:39.63, just off her preliminary swim of 4:39.07, as the top three all cleared 4:40.

Indiana's Lindsay Vrooman (4:40.99), California's Melanie Klaren (4:41.23), Ohio State's Sam Cheverton (4:41.34), Indiana's Haley Lips (4:42.86) and IX3's Ashley Twichell (4:43.40) also battled in the finale. Klaren, notably, celebrated her 21st birthday today in Knoxville. ASU's Tristin Baxter powered past Cal's Catherine Breed in the B final, 4:41.08 to 4:41.99.

Men's 500 free
Michigan's distance proved to be the storyline of the night during the men's 500 free. Michigan's Connor Jaeger held off post-grad teammate Michael Klueh with a strong 4:14.05 for the win, clearing the NCAA A cut in the process. Jaeger also had a huge Movember moustache still, and had to fend off questions about still wearing it in his post-race interview.

Klueh, meanwhile, had battled Jaeger throughout the race but wound up settling for second-place honors in 4:14.43. Both swimmers will have way more left in the tank as they both are in the 4:09 and 4:10 range in terms of lifetime bests, but Jaeger did what he had to do to qualify for NCAAs.

Michigan's Anders Nielsen raced into third with a 4:15.49, just missing an NCAA A cut of his own.

California's Jeremy Bagshaw (4:16.15), Utah's Bence Kiraly (4:19.25), Michigan's Michael Wynalda (4:19.41), Crimson's Liam Egan (4:19.55) and Perth's Stephen Milne (4:19.85) also vied for the national title. Badger's Ryan Feeley picked up the B final win in 4:19.15.

Women's 200 IM
California's Elizabeth Pelton had way too much for her Golden Bear teammate Celina Li down the stretch as she threw down a 26.82 final split en route to an NCAA A cut time of 1:54.15 for the win. That's her fourth-fastest time ever, behind a trio of 1:532 from 2012-13, and was enough to beat the NCAA A cut in the process.

Li, who lead qualifying with a 1:55.55, still wound up with a strong second-place time of 1:54.25, also under the NCAA A cut. The swim broke the 1:55 barrier for her, downing her previous lifetime best of 1:55.28 from last year's Winter National Championships.

SoFlo's Alia Atkinson, who just won a boatload of money on the FINA World Cup as a professional, wound up with a third-place time of 1:54.85. Coming into today, her lifetime best had been a 1:57.31 from the 2009 NCAA Division I Championships for the Texas A&M Aggies.

SwimMAC's Kathleen Baker, 16, fell just off her preliminary time of 1:56.29 with a fourth-place 1:56.38, while teammate Katie Meili took fifth in 1:57.35.

NCAP's Janet Hu (1:57.76), Cal's Caitlin Leverenz (1:58.00) and Michigan's Courtney Beidler (1:58.59) also took part in the finale with Leverenz as the standing American and U.S. Open record holder with a 1:51.77 from March of 2012.

In an exciting B final battle, T2's Justine Mueller touched out Michigan's Marni Oldershaw, 1:57.56 to 1:57.89. That's just a second off Mueller's best, and is her second-fastest time ever. For Oldershaw, that's a barrier-breaker as she lowered her personal record from 1:58.13 from last season's NCAA Division I Championships.

Men's 200 IM
Darian Townsend, who has been making noise on the Masters scene with a truckload of FINA Masters World Records lately, posted a personal best in the finale en route to the open national record.

Townsend, a three-time Olympian, raced his way to the win in 1:41.88 to break the 1:42 barrier for the first time. The swim beat his lifetime best of 1:42.13 from the 2009 Arizona Short Course Senior State Championships.

NCAP's Andrew Seliskar, 17, put up a time of 1:43.22 for his second lifetime best of the day. The swim beat his 1:43.50 from prelims, that smashed his previous personal record of 1:44.03 from the 2013 NCSA Junior Nationals.

Michigan's Dylan Bosch finished third overall in 1:43.47, just off an NCAA A cut for the collegiate swimmer.

California's Josh Prenot (1:44.18), Michigan's Kyle Whitaker (1:44.47), Queens' Matt Josa (1:45.44), Utah's Kristian Kron (1:46.68) and Indiana's Stephen Schmuhl (1:46.84) finished fourth through eighth, while California's Ryan Murphy touched out Indiana's Cody Miller, 1:45.75 to 1:45.95 for the B final win.

Women's 50 free
California's Natalie Coughlin, who will be featured on the cover of Swimming World Magazine in January as part of an exclusive interview, continued to demonstrate her evolution into one of the most feared female sprinters in the world. She scorched the finale with a 21.51, just off her 2007 meet record of 21.46. Tonight's time is her second-fastest swim ever as she now has doubled her amount of 21s this year. She previously had two from 2007, and now she's up to four today.

SwimAtlanta's Amanda Weir matched her lifetime best from 2008 with a second-place time of 21.62 as she continued pushing her way through a similar path as Coughlin as a veteran sprinter. Another veteran sprinter, Madison Kennedy of SwimMAC, finished third in 21.69. That battered her previous best of 21.87 from the 2008 NCAA Division I Championships.

NCAP's Janet Hu claimed sole possession of the U.S. 17-18 National Age Group record with a fourth-place 21.82. That swim beat the 21.89 she clocked to tie Faith Johnson this morning.

SwimMAC's Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace (21.91), Utah's Traycie Swartz (22.15), SwimMAC's Kelsi Hall (22.20), and Louisville's Kelsi Worrell (22.67) also competed in the finale.

Men's 50 free
In his first traditional meet back since the FINA World Championships in Barcelona, American-record holder Nathan Adrian nearly picked off his meet record with a winning time of 18.89. That time just missed his meet mark of 18.82 from a year ago as Adrian continues to round into form heading out of the post-Worlds break.

NYAC had a strong showing on the podium with a 2-3 finish as Josh Schneider hit the wall in 19.07 for second and Adam Brown placed third in 19.13. Schneider tied his second best time ever, finishing just behind his best of 18.93 from the 2010 NCAA Division I Championships.

Tucson Ford's Matt Grevers cruised into fourth overall with a 19.24, while SwimAtlanta's Karl Krug picked up fifth in 19.45.

Utah's Nicholas Soedel (19.61), Louisville's Joao De Lucca (19.64) and California's Tyler Messerschmidt (19.64) also vied for the splash-and-dash title tonight.

Women's 400 medley relay
The Golden Bears continued with a strong close to the night as Elizabeth Pelton (51.27), Marina Garcia Urzainqui (59.58), Rachel Bootsma (51.55) and Missy Franklin (47.51) turned in a scorching time of 3:29.91 for the win. That effort blasted the meet record of 3:31.16 set by Arizona back in 2012 and easily beat the NCAA A cut in the process. Pelton also cleared the A cut in the 100 back in the finale.

Cal's B team of Cindy Tran (51.34), Celina Li (1:01.37), Sophie Batchelor (52.74) and Rachael Acker (47.91) finished second in 3:33.36 with Tran taking down the NCAA A cut as well in the 100 back.

The Indiana Hoosiers also snuck under the NCAA A cut as Brooklyn Snodgrass (52.67), Bronwyn Pasloski (59.84), Gia Dalesandro (53.03) and Kaitlyn Flederbach (48.59) took third in 3:34.13.

Tennessee (3:35.07) and Michigan (3:35.28) placed fourth and fifth ahead of a historic swim.

Nation's Capital Swim Club's Janet Hu (53.53), Schuyler Bailar (1:02.54), Kylie Jordan (53.88) and World Swimmer of the Year Katie Ledecky (48.04) put together a historic swim in the second heat with a 3:36.99. That effort became the first by a 15-18 age group relay to break 3:37, downing the U.S. 15-18 National Age Group record in the process.

SwimMAC's Kathleen Baker, Caitlin Casazza, Elsa Welshofer and Nora McCullagh previously held the record with a 3:37.93.

That's a strong day for Hu and Ledecky. Both helped NCAP break the 200 free relay 15-18 NAG this morning, while Hu took down the 17-18 50 free mark this evening. Ledecky also took home the 500 freestyle title this evening.

Louisville (3:38.10) and ASU (3:39.27) placed seventh and eighth to round out the top eight in the timed final event.

Men's 400 medley relay
SwimMAC's Nick Thoman rattled the American record by the slimmest of margins as he leadoff SwimMAC's winning 400 medley relay with a scorching 44.56. That just missed Matt Grevers' American record of 44.55 from 2012, and is Thoman's first time under 45 having come into tonight with a 45.60 personal best from 2009 Short Course Nationals.

Thoman, Dax Hill (53.17), Tim Phillips (46.16) and Cullen Jones (42.68) rounded out the win in 3:06.57, while Louisville's Grigory Tarasevich (46.85), Kameron Chastain (51.93), Aaron Young (46.64) and Joao De Lucca (41.90) placed second in 3:07.32 to clear the NCAA A cut.

Michigan's John Wojciechowski (47.53), Richard Funk (51.98), Dylan Bosch (46.19) and Bruno Ortiz (42.60) also beat the A cut with a third-place 3:08.30, while NYAC's loaded international team of Arkady Vyatchanin (45.80), Dani Malnik (55.65), Josh Schneider (46.45) and Adam Brown (41.30) finished fourth in 3:09.20.

California (3:10.56), Louisville (3:10.66), Utah (3:11.87) and Arizona State (3:12.81) comprised the rest of the top eight in the timed final.



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