College Conference Notebook: Weitzeil Back in the Pool After Rough Night

By David Rieder.

Heading into the final day of this week’s slate of conference championships, the women’s Pac-12 meet has produced most of the week’s top performances, but Federal Way, Wash., was also home to a scary moment Friday night when Cal’s Abbey Weitzeil had to be helped off the deck after her 200 free final.

Abbey Weitzeil seeks a bounce-back in her best event.

It’s not unusual to see Weitzeil fading at the end of her 200 free—that’s exactly what happened in the long course version of the event at Olympic Trials, when she was out in 1:27.43 in prelims and came home in 33.14—but the splits from her race Friday night suggest more than just running out of gas.

  8 Weitzeil, Abbey        FR CAL-PC            1:44.85    1:46.70   22  
       23.76    26.22    27.72    29.00

After the race, Weitzeil was down on the ground for several minutes and received help from trainers and coaches before walking off the deck. The Pac-12 reached out to Cal for comment on behalf of Swimming World, but the school had no update on Weitzeil’s condition or her status for the remainder of the meet.

However, the freshman was not a part of the Golden Bears’ 400 medley relay, where she would likely have swum the anchor leg. Farida Osman ended up handling those duties, and she could not hold off Simone Manuel, who anchored in 46.22.

If Weitzeil is healthy enough to go for Saturday morning’s prelims of the 100 free, she will be the top seed in that event at 47.22, but she will have a tough task in holding off Manuel, who has been stellar so far this week with times of 21.29 in the 50 free and 1:40.37 in the 200 free.

Also in that race will be USC’s Louise Hansson, who finished third in the 200 IM Thursday and was the surprising conference champion in the 100 fly Friday. Weitzeil is the second-fastest performer in history in the 100 free, so her presence in the race would certainly be welcomed, but mathematically, the Bears should be able to hold on to second place  in the team competition even if Weitzeil is done for the weekend.

Joseph Schooling Responds in 100 Fly. (Jack Conger, Too.)

Since winning the Olympic gold medal in the 100 fly this past summer, Joseph Schooling has had to sit and watch as others have recorded quick times in the 100-yard version of the event. Tom Shields became the first man under 44 at U.S. Winter Nationals, and then Schooling’s former Bolles teammate Caeleb Dressel recorded a 44.21, then the fourth-fastest time in history, at the SEC championships last week.

Schooling, meanwhile, missed the Texas Invitational in December with injury issues. But when he finally got a chance to put a suit on for his signature event Friday night, the Singapore-native went off.

His time of 44.06 is just five one-hundredths off his own NCAA record and ranks as the third-fastest performance in history. And not far away was Jack Conger, whose finished second to Schooling at Big 12s in 44.56, one one-hundredth off his lifetime best and the third-fastest time in the country.

It’s not like the Big 12 meet is one where Texas usually lights it up—with almost no competition for the conference title, the Longhorns usually hold back on their taper for the NCAA championships.

Indeed, Will Licon, Clark Smith and Townley Haas have all been fairly average (by their high standards) this week at Big 12s. So what does that mean for Schooling and Conger? Well, right after Shields broke the 100 fly record in December, he predicted that his 43.84 would not last as the top time in history for long. He will probably be right.

Next month, remember the name “Dean Farris.”

Wednesday night, Farris split 1:31.29 anchoring Harvard’s 800 free relay to a title at the Ivy League Championships. But that would not be the highlight of his week—not even close.

Friday night, Farris won the Ivy League title in the 200 free in 1:31.56. That time is the fastest in the country so far this season, and Blake Pieroni is the only other man under 1:32 so far at 1:31.83. Farris now ranks sixth all-time in the event, and among Americans, the only men faster are Townley Haas (1:30.46) and Ricky Berens (1:31.31), both Olympic gold medalists.

Not done for the night, Farris then swam the 100 back and finished in 45.38, the fifth-fastest time in the country this season, and then he anchored Harvard’s 400 medley relay to a victory in 41.46.

But his highlight of the night came when Farris received a phone call. He had broken a 37-year-old Harvard pool record in the 200 free, and the former record-holder immediately called to offer his congratulations. That former record-holder? None other than Rowdy Gaines.

Farris will undoubtedly remember that moment fondly, and we should remember Farris in one month’s time at the NCAA championships.

All commentaries are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Swimming World Magazine nor its staff.

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Author: David Rieder

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David Rieder is the host of Swimming World TV and a staff writer. A contributor to Swimming World since 2009, he has covered NCAA Championships, U.S. Nationals, Olympic Trials and the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. He is a native of Charleston, S.C., and a 2016 graduate of Duke University.

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