ATHENS, Georgia, July 23. THE emergence of two bright young stars along with plenty of inspired performances highlighted proceedings at the Speedo Sectional Championships Southeast held in Athens, Georgia July 17-20th.
Elaine Breeden, a 14 year-old swimming for Kentucky's Wildcat Aquatics, blasted to a 1:00.18 win in the women's 100 butterfly, more than a second and a half of second place Elizabeth Hill of Dynamo (1:01.74) in a race that saw the top four swimmers finish under 1:02.1. In the 200 fly, she was no less impressive, clocking a time of 2:12.93, more than two full seconds ahead of Katie Yevak (2:15.03). The top five finishers all qualified for the Olympic Trials.
Breeden's trajectory brings to mind another young Kentucky butterflyer who went on to hold world records in the 100 and 200 butterfly events for nearly two decades. Only time will tell if she can step up to fill those giant-sized shoes, but swimming 1:00 while unrested is definitely a move in the right direction.
Amanda Weir, at the ripe old age of 17, is a perennial Senior National finalist and National Age group record holder, but her performances at Sectionals sounded an alarm call to the National team elite. Weir entered the super-elite sub 55 club with a sizzling 54.99, breaking yet another National Age Group record, and setting herself up for a great Nationals next month. Weir also took the 50 meter free in 25.61, and second in the 200 free (2:01.45)
Another swimmer who looks to have a great Nationals is Stefanie Williams, who appears ready to make the jump from NCAA champion swimmer to National team swimmer. Williams took the 200 freestyle in 2:00.82, and as well swam an excellent 55.89 to take second behind Weir in the 100 freestyle.
Olympian Courtney Shealy appears to be rounding into top form as well, taking third in a fast 100 free (56.26), in addition to winning the 100 back in a swift 1:02.04.
Dynamo's one-woman wrecking crew, 17 year-old Elizabeth Hill, won the 400 (4:16.26) and 800 (8:43.59) freestyles in addition to claiming Olympic Trials standards in the 100/200 fly, and 200 freestyle.
In men's events, Swim Atlanta/Auburn's Eric Shanteau swam to swift times in taking titles in the 200 (2:03.97) and 400 IM (4:24.52), defeating 2003 NCAA champion Robert Margalis (4:28.93) soundly and earning Olympic Trials qualification standards.
Bryan Goldberg, who swims for the University of Tennessee by way of Fort Lauderdale, looked terrific in winning the 200 (1:50.53) and 400 (3:57.33) freestyles in convincing fashion. Not only did he finish more than two seconds ahead of his nearest pursuer in both races, he also qualified for next year's Olympic Trials in both events handily.
North Carolina's Sean Quinn took the 200 breaststroke (2:18.33) over Olympian Kyle Salyards (2:18.60), while Auburn's Mark Gangloff and SwimAtlanta's Scott Gardner achieved a rare tie in the 100 breaststroke with a time of 1:03.69. In both races, the top three swimmers were under the Trials marks.
Fifteen year-old NAG record-holding butterfly prodigy Ricky Berens of Mecklenburg Aquatic Club took a Trials standard in winning the 200 butterfly (2:03.18), over fellow NAG record holder 17 year-old Gil Stovall of Memphis (2:03.21). Stovall turned the tables on Berens, winning the 100 butterfly in 54.98 over Berens' 55.34, both marks good enough to qualify for Trials.
Full results can be found at: http://www.athensbulldogs.com/sectionals03.htm