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By Katie Wingert, Swimming World College Intern.
Young upstarts like Holt and Howell owned the first night of Speedo Sectionals in Columbia, MO. The first day of competition–consumed completely by the 1000 freestyle–sets the tone for an exciting long weekend of fast swimming in the central zone.
On the men’s side, it was 15-year-old Evan Holt of Central North Swimming who dominated an experienced field in the distance event. Holt dropped a whopping 31.63 seconds from his seed time and climbed up from his tenth-seed rank to snatch the gold out of his elders’ fingertips. His blazing 9:18.51 was sustained with mathematically methodical 100-yard splits; all but the first two hundreds of his race were in the 56-second range.
The real race was for second in the men’s 1000. Adam Grimm of the Rec Plex Sharks followed Holt in 9:20.85, while Jonesboro’s Jack Little, the top seed in the event, touched just behind in 9:20.23. Grimm found immense closing speed in his final 100 (53.70) that no one else–including Little–could match.
As for the women, the forty-lap chase for gold came down to a touch. Despite a strong front half from the Kansas City Blazers’ Katherine Sullivan, it was Liberty Howell of SwimTulsa who brought home the race. Howell touched in 9:56.00 after an aggressive final fifty, while Sullivan stopped the clock in 9:56.35.
The next closest competitor was Alexis Daniels of the Clayton Shaw Park Tideriders, who stayed close to Sullivan and Howell for the first few hundreds but ultimately fell off the pace in the middle of the race. Eighteen-year-old Daniels achieved a respectable 10:04.25 for third.
The meet continues tomorrow–through Sunday–with a more extensive program. The 200 freestyle, the 100 breaststroke, the 100 butterfly, the 400 IM, and the 800 free relay are all slated for competition in the morning.
All results can be found on Meet Mobile – 2017 Speedo Sectionals Championship Series