By Josh Jeffrey
OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla., August 4. THE state of Kansas lies in the region of America's heartland commonly referred to by meteorologists as "Tornado Alley."
Unlike hurricanes, tornadoes are usually not given name designation, but in the case of Wichita's Caroline Bruce, there may have to be an exception. Bruce put on an F5 level performance at the Speedo Champions Series Region 8 meet in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, this July, winning a total of five events.
The 17 year-old Bruce got the ball rolling with a win in the 100 backstroke (1:04.51), winning by nearly a full second and qualifying for the Olympic Trials. Her best events were yet to come.
In the 100 breaststroke, she sizzled to a 1:10.66, breaking the pool record, as well as the Region 3 record she set in 2001 (1:10.85). Second place Jessie Bailis of Nebraska was nearly two seconds behind the pace, but qualified for the Olympic Trials by five-hundredths with her preliminary swim of 1:12.54.
In the 200 breaststroke, Bruce dazzled with a 2:31.64, more than five full seconds ahead of her nearest competitor, and good enough to break the pool and Region 3 record (2:32.24) she set in 2001.
Notching up two more wins in the 200 (2:19.49) and 400 (4:57.30) IMs, Bruce was ready to make it six when Danielle Duncan of the KC Blazers nipped her at the touch to win the 200 back, 2:19.99 to 2:20.06. Ironically, Duncan, herself an Olympic Trials qualifier in breaststroke, scratched from both the 100 and 200 here.
Bruce's final count: 5 gold, 1 silver, 4 Olympic Trials standards.
Bruce wasn't the only multiple winner amongst the ladies. Erin Smith of the Kansas City Blazers won both the 50 (26.64) and 100 (58.37) freestyles, and was on her way to a trifecta when teammate Rachael Waller hit the wall two-hundredths sooner in the 200, 2:06.09 to 2:06.11.
Arkansan Brittany Massengale took the distance triple with wins in the 400 (4:24.82), 800 (8:57.75) and 1500 (17:08.01).
Nary a Trials cut was to be found on the men's side, but Bartlesville's own David Plummer came closest, with his win in the 100 backstroke (57.80), just one-hundredth off the standard. Plummer also took the 200 back in 2:05.27.
Kansas City Blazer Max Jaben gave his best effort to match Caroline Bruce's titanic total, winning four events in all. Jaben, 17, is primarily known as a distance freestyler, but his best swim of the meet came in the 200 freestyle, where he swam to a four second win at 1:53.37, breaking the 2001 standard (1:53.96) set by Kicker Vencill. In addition, he won the 400 (4:01.84) and 800 freestyles (8:27.64), as well as the 200 butterfly (2:06.69).
Surprisingly, Jaben, a finalist in the 1500 at the last edition of Summer Nationals, could only muster a third place finish in that event here. His time of 16:26.30 was nearly twenty seconds behind that of winner Travis Beckerle, Rockwood (16:07.68), who finally took a win of his own after finishing second in the 200, 400, and 800 to Jaben.
Recplex's Chris McCrary, a Pan Am Games National teamer, took wins in the 50 (23.55) free and 100 butterfly (56.90), while Rockwood's Tom Patrick dispatched his competition in the individual medleys, grabbing the 200 in 2:09.14, and the 400 in 4:37.52. Breaststroker Cory Bergman became a double winner as well, seizing victories in the 100 (1:06.32) and 200 (2:20.65).
Complete results can be found at: http://www.kmsc.org/MeetInfo/2003LC/CSRVIIIresults.htm