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Commentary by Jeff Commings
SANTA CLARA, California, June 21. I am surely not the only person who would like to see Elizabeth Beisel break the curse this year that has been haunting her in the 400 IM. Based on her dominating win tonight at the Arena Grand Prix in Santa Clara, she appears to be on her way to a major breakthrough this summer.
It’s weird to use the word “breakthrough” for Beisel. She broke through on the national scene in 2007 and internationally in 2008. She’s been a mainstay in the top eight of the 400 IM since then, and has won medals at all the major meets. So what’s the potential breakthrough?
Beisel has been stuck at 4:31 since 2011, and every year she inches closer to breaking that barrier but never gets quite there. Could this be the year she sees 4:30 on the scoreboard or — gasp! — 4:29? Katie Hoff’s American record of 4:31.12 is in jeopardy. But I’ve been thinking that every year since 2011.
Beisel’s 4:33.52 puts her fourth in the world, and that has to be encouraging for her, given that she will not be racing the three women ahead of her this summer. Ye Shiwen will not be at Pan Pacs, Mireia Belmonte is prepping for the European championships and Hannah Miley’s major meet is the Commonwealth Games. So, Beisel will be in a virtual race for the top time in the world for 2014, and the fact that she was able to swim fast by herself tonight bodes well for Pan Pacs in August. Count on her to be more than a body length ahead of the field when she touches the wall to finish the 400 IM in August.
Should Michael Phelps do the 200 freestyle? Yes, yes, a thousand times yes! If for no other reason than to give a bigger boost to the 800 free relay this summer. As he did for the 2012 Olympics, Phelps could give up his spot in the individual 200 free to someone else, but that relay would be incomplete without him.
Bruno Fratus is going to be dangerous this summer at the Pan Pacific championships in the 50 free. He’s already second in the world with a 21.45, which will be tough to beat in August if he can replicate that time. As Fratus mentioned in his post-race interview, it would have been great to have Nathan Adrian in the race, for the two to size each other up before they step up to race in Australia in about two months.