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Commentary by Jeff Commings
CHARLOTTE, North Carolina, May 17. THIS is the best year for young swimmers to start proclaiming themselves as strong contenders for berths on the 2016 Olympic team. One would think many of the slots are already secured, with people like Ryan Lochte, Nathan Adrian, Kevin Cordes and others seemingly untouchable. But anyone who has watched the Olympic Trials since, well, the first one knows that anything can happen at that meet.
Can Andrew Seliskar be the next big thing in the 200 fly? He’s been slowly working his way up the ranks in the past year, and tonight swam his way to a win in the event in the Arena Grand Prix with a 1:57.40. Many people will tell me to not read much into Seliskar’s swim tonight, since it was “just an in-season meet” and people such as Tyler Clary were not in the field. I got this excited about Justin Wright at last summer’s Arena Grand Prix meet in Santa Clara when he beat Clary in the 200 fly. Wright went on to a great end of the season, but not as monumental as I expected.
But I believe Seliskar has the ingredients to put together something special this summer. Not many people can be within a second of their lifetime best at this point in the season, but Seliskar is on point to beat his 1:56.42, which he swam to win gold at the junior world championships last summer. With three swimmers being picked per event to swim at the Pan Pacific team, Seliskar could find himself racing against the best the Pacific Rim nations have to offer.
Don’t count him out in a few other events as well. He had a great 400 IM last night, is also a strong 200 IM swimmer and not a shabby breaststroker, either. Until just a few hours ago he had the national public school record in the 100 breaststroke and owns the 17-18 national age group record in the 200-yard breast.
“I’m starstruck by the guys in the ready room,” Seliskar said after his race tonight. In a few years, another swimmer might say the same about him.
Speaking of breakthroughs, Josh Schneider had an incredible 50 free tonight. He always swims well in his home pool, but to beat the man who is currently second in the world speaks volumes about the potential he could carry leading into nationals in August.
Since winning the 2010 NCAA title, the only international experience Schneider has had was the 2012 short course worlds, where he won bronze in the 50 free and set the American record. Things look promising for Schneider to get himself on the plane to Australia this summer for the Pan Pacific championships.
The 50 freestyle is the most precise event on the program. One tiny mistake could mean the difference between first and fifth, between racing at Pan Pacs and watching it from home. Schneider’s start is always strong, thanks probably to his legs built like the football linebacker he once was in high school. Tonight, his finish was spectacular, and that is going to be key for him at nationals. Behind Nathan Adrian is an equally determined group of sprinters anxious to get on the roster. Schneider has the talent to beat them all but it depends on how things work out on that particular day.