By guest writer Julia Wilkinson-Minks (2008 & 2012 Canadian Olympian)
MISSION VIEJO, California, June 8. THE training cycle: it has its motivating highs, but it also comes with some painfully discouraging lows. Not everyone will swim fast at the same time, even teammates following a similar program. Saturday finals at the TYR Fran Crippen Memorial Swim Meet of Champions showed us that, even though many swimmers were expected to show their best in-season efforts last weekend, there might still be some juice left in the pre-taper tank yet.
Brittany Elmslie clearly did something right this week: not only did she blow away her competition, the pool and meet records tonight in the women's 200-meter freestyle, but she also demolished the time she swam one week ago at the Arena Grand Prix in Santa Clara.
Elmslie's time of 1:57.75 was two seconds faster than her fifth-place finish last weekend, and would have put her on the top of the podium ahead of superstars Missy Franklin and Allison Schmitt. Elmslie continued her win streak by taking the crown in the 50-meter freestyle, almost half a second ahead of the rest of the field. Combine that with her 100-meter freestyle title last night, and she clearly has become the woman to beat at the TYR Fran Crippen Memorial Swim Meet of Champions.
1 Brittany Elmslie 18 Australia 1:57.75
27.52 57.46 (29.94)
1:27.63 (30.17) 1:57.75 (30.12)
In the men's 200-meter freestyle, a Trojan battle broke out right away, and teammates Nikita Lobintsev and Dimitri Colupaev separated from the field early. Colupaev faded as the two approached the final turn, and Lobintsev, a two-time Olympic medalist for Russia, got his hand on the wall first in 1:48.60.
1 Nikita Lobintsev 24 Trojan-CA 1:48.60
25.10 52.33 (27.23)
1:20.31 (27.98) 1:48.60 (28.29)
2 Dimitri Colupaev 23 Trojan-CA 1:50.61
25.07 52.25 (27.18)
1:20.91 (28.66) 1:50.61 (29.70)
The Russian reign continued into the women's 200-meter breaststroke. Yuliya Efimova repeated her time from this morning and won handily in 2:26.51, a comfortable six seconds ahead of second place. Efimova is also a two-time Olympian for Russia, and won the bronze medal in the 200-meter breaststroke last summer in London. Efimova has proven that she will be one to watch this summer in Barcelona.
1 Yuliya Efimova 21 Trojan-CA 2:26.51
33.94 1:11.79 (37.85)
1:49.00 (37.21) 2:26.51 (37.51)
In the men's 200-meter breaststroke, Josh Prenot won the race in 2:14.21. Prenot just finished his freshman year at California, and placed fifth in this event at the 2013 NCAA Championships. Ashton Baumann of Canada led the way at the 100-meter mark, ending up second in 2:16.27. Baumann is the son of Canadian swimming legend Alex Baumann, who won two gold medals at the 1984 Olympics.
1 Josh Prenot 19 CAL-PC 2:14.21
30.96 1:05.12 (34.16)
1:40.02 (34.90) 2:14.21 (34.19)
2 Ashton Baumann 20 Unat-Canada 2:16.27
30.74 1:04.90 (34.16)
1:40.77 (35.87) 2:16.27 (35.50)
The men's 50-meter freestyle was, not surprisingly, another race between Seth Stubblefield and Sidni Hoxha. Just like yesterday in the 100-meter freestyle, Stubblefield was victorious (22.86), but Hoxha managed to break another Albanian national record, setting the new mark at 23.13. No doubt he has his mind set on being the first Albanian man under the 23-second barrier.
Canada's Alexa Komarnycky won the women's 400-meter IM in 4:45.90. She was happy with the time, although had her sights set in the 4:43-range for this evening's race. Komarnycky and her Victoria Academy of Swimming teammates recently finished a tough altitude camp in Arizona: “I'm still waiting to feel good coming off of altitude, so it is encouraging to post decent times when I feel a little bit off. We are in the middle of our training cycle, and hurting during these swims is preparing me to swim fast at World Championships this summer.”
Komarnycky held off Olympic silver medalist and NCAA champion Haley Anderson, who finished the race in 4:48.05.
1 Alexa Komarnycky 23 Island Swimming 4:45.90
31.06 1:05.19 (34.13)
1:42.18 (36.99) 2:18.41 (36.23)
2:59.89 (41.48) 3:41.47 (41.58)
4:14.67 (33.20) 4:45.90 (31.23)
In the final individual race of the night, 17-year old Corey Okubo swam most of the 400-meter IM by himself, finishing in a time of 4:23.59, four seconds ahead of second place.
1 Corey Okubo 17 Aquazots-CA 4:23.59
27.83 59.64 (31.81)
1:32.64 (33.00) 2:05.03 (32.39)
2:43.16 (38.13) 3:22.15 (38.99)
3:53.50 (31.35) 4:23.59 (30.09)
After three days of swimming in Mission Viejo, there have been some impressive in-season swims, many of which were swum against the clock. Whether the athlete is preparing for World Championships or Trials, this particular training cycle is coming to an end, and that means it is crunch time. For some, this is the final test run to work out any kinks, physical and mental. Clearly, some swimmers have realized this and are finding the motivation to swim through the pain and fatigue that always goes hand-in-hand with an in-season competition.
Julia Wilkinson-Minks is a two-time Olympian for Canada and was a finalist in the 200-meter IM at the 2008 Beijing Games. In 2010, she became Texas A&M's first ever NCAA champion in swimming when she won the 100-yard freestyle. She graduated from Texas A&M with a degree in Speech Communication. Julia retired from competitive swimming following the London Olympic Games and now lives in Texas with her husband Shane.
Follow her on twitter @juliah2o