By John Lohn
IRVINE, California, August 4. THE fast times keep rolling in from the United States Nationals, being held at the William Woollett Aquatic Center. Here’s another look at some of the developments that have come out of Southern California.
**During the third day of action, it can be argued that the top swim of the evening session was produced by Cullen Jones, the high-rising sprinter from North Carolina State. Clocking in at 21.94, Jones dropped the fastest time in the world this year and became just the 10th man in history to break through the 22-second barrier.
But, Jones isn’t just a budding star. He’s also breaking through social barriers, as he became the third African-American man to win a national title, joining Anthony Ervin and Bryan Jones. In a sport that does not feature many African-American athletes, Jones can serve as a role model and an inspiration, as has been the case with Maritza Correia.
In the water, Jones is obviously a surging force. He was the World University Games champion in the 50 free last year, claimed the 50 free title at the most recent NCAA Championships and won silver in his pet event at the World Short Course Champs. Also developing rapidly in the 100 free, Jones could soon challenge Gary Hall Jr.’s American record in the 50 free, an effort of 21.76 from 2000.
**Some additional names have been added to the American roster for the upcoming Pan Pacific Championships in Victoria, British Columbia. With several swimmers having posted double victories, room was made on the roster for a handful of second-place finishers. Here are the newest additions to Team USA.
Cullen Jones: See above.
Randall Bal: The second-place finisher in the 100 backstroke, Bal was timed in 53.91, marking the first time he dipped under the 54-second mark. Bal’s time made him the eighth-fastest performer in history and was a good sign for an athlete who has been troubled by shoulder injuries.
Davis Tarwater: The fourth-place finisher in the 200 butterfly at last summer’s World Champs in Montreal, Tarwater was second to Michael Phelps in his prime event, thanks to a time of 1:57.00. Training with a stellar group at Club Wolverine, Tarwater could be a medalist at next year’s World Champs in Melbourne.
Scott Usher: Better known for his ability in the 200 breast, where he was a 2004 Olympian, Usher showed quality speed in the 100 breast and wrapped up an invitation to Pan Pacs in the shorter distance. That Usher produced a personal best in the 100 distance is a positive sign for his 200 breast on Saturday.
Rachel Komisarz: An established member of the United States National Team, Komisarz came charging home in the 100 butterfly, only to finish behind Natalie Coughlin by the narrowest of margins, 57.78 to 57.79. With Coughlin the backstroker on the American medley relay, Komisarz will be valuable on the fly leg.
Kara Lynn Joyce: Among the top sprinters in the nation, Joyce popped a personal-best time en route to victory in the 50 freestyle. The University of Georgia product delivered a time of 24.97 and looks sharp heading into the 100 freestyle, which will be held on Saturday.
Megan Jendrick: One of the best stories at this meet, Jendrick prevailed in the 100-meter breast ahead of Tara Kirk and Jessica Hardy. The 2000 Olympic champion in the 100 breast, Jendrick had slipped from the top couple of spots in recent years, but has now regained the form that once made her the best the world had to offer.
Whitney Myers: The University of Arizona standout earned her trip to the Pan Pacific Championships with a second-place showing in the 200 individual medley. Myers was fourth in the 200 I.M. at last year’s World Champs and has also proven herself as a reliable contributor in the 800 free relay.
**One of the most surprising athletes of these Nationals has been Joseph Doyle, representing Ohio State Swimming. On Thursday night, Doyle placed sixth in the 100-meter butterfly with a swim of 53.73. Earlier in the day, he registered a mark of 53.23 during preliminary action. Look for Doyle to continue his stellar progression.