By Duncan Scott
Attached are the complete prelim results of day five of the World Championship Trials in Indianapolis.
Qualifying was generally according to expectations with familiar names filling the final of the women's 100 free and Piersol/Lochte far ahead of the field in the men's 200 back. The Women's 200 Breast was led by Rebecca Soni at 2:28.43, a drop of over 2.5 seconds from her 2:30.98 but not a shocker in light of her 2003 personal best of 2:29.08. In any event, plenty of known quantities are available in the final to fill the Montreal slots. T. Kirk, Caverly, Jendrick (Quann), and Bruce are all in the final and all have life bests faster than Soni's morning swim.
The same comfort cannot be said to apply to the men's 200 breaststroke once you get past world record holder Brendan Hansen, who qualified over 4 seconds ahead of the field at 2:13.02. Several difficult developments have brought into question whether the US can even qualify two athletes to participate in Montreal. We don't have the Montreal standards for a country to have two athletes in the 200 breaststroke, but for Athens the second swimmer had to be at least 2:14.20. After this morning a couple of 16 year olds sit second and third (John Criste, 2:17.28 and Scott Spann [whose sister Alexandra is in the women’s final], 2:17.56), which may bode well for the future but not necessarily for now.
I think the best bets for the second slot, and possibly the world championship standard, are the two outside lanes. Scott Usher has not yet swum this spring up to his level from last summer (PB 2:10.90; this morning 2:18.30), but maybe the motivation of a world team can make the difference. Kevin Swander had a fine 100 breaststroke and was Big Ten champion at the 200 distance this spring. It also can’t hurt that he is swimming before a home crowd.
Mark Gangloff is already on the team in his 100 breaststroke specialty and is a threat at the 200 as well, having placed 5th at the Olympic trials in 2:14.17.
Aside from Usher's subpar swims to date, Ed Moses' absence from the event and Gary Marshall's performance contributed also to this quandary. Marshall won the Pac-10 200 breast at 1:52+, just off Hansen's American record. At the NCAA a few weeks later he was a couple of seconds slower but was at least still in the battle for the championship till the last 50 yards. This morning he placed 9th with a swim that the splits suggest was a badly paced mistake. He had enough left at the end to have the fastest final 50 meters of anyone in the field (:35.15), but it wasn't enough to put him in the final where he would have been a favorite for the second slot (2:13.82 for third in Long Beach OT).