By guest writer Julia Wilkinson-Minks (2008 & 2012 Canadian Olympian)
INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana, June 26. THERE are a lot of exciting races to look forward to tonight: two more relays will be made out of the top six swimmers in the 200-meter freestyle. Missy Franklin will shine in both her events and probably make a run at her World Record, and on the men's side, Ryan Lochte will have another shot to take down Olympic champion Tyler Clary. Personally, I will be glued to my computer, but I am especially excited about the breaststroke events.
I learned last year that there is no underestimating Breeja Larson. The 2012 Olympian who was a sleeper recruit turned NCAA record holder has only started to show what she is capable of. Last November at the Houston Invite, the Texas A&M Aggie shocked the swimming world by not only breaking her own NCAA record in the 100-yard breaststroke, but by also taking down Rebecca Soni's 200-yard breaststroke record as well.
Considering Larson only started swimming seriously at 17 years of age, it should not come as a surprise that she posted a best time this morning to put her seeded first in the 200-meter breaststroke. Her 2:24.80 from this morning's preliminary session is more than two seconds faster than her personal best of 2:26.95 from the final of Olympic Trials last year.
That being said, Laura Sogar defeated a highly-favored Larson at NCAA Championships in March. She has continued to swim after her senior year and no doubt wants a spot on this team. I don't know if she can beat Larson, but if she stays close, she will have a good chance to qualify for the team. Of course, we can't forget 2012 Olympian Micah Lawrence, who is seeded fourth coming into this evening's finals session.
In the men's 200-meter breaststroke, Kevin Cordes made a statement this morning with a blazing 2:09.16. The 19-year old NCAA Champion and record holder showed that he has translated his successful yards swimming to long course, and is ready to continue his already fantastic season.
Another 19-year old, Nic Fink finished a second behind Cordes and will look to earn his spot on the national team tonight as well, but Clark Burckle will no doubt be fighting to return to the international stage after representing the USA at the Olympics in London last year.
The last time I swam the 200 breaststroke seriously was when I was fifteen years old: but that feeling of your legs aching and forearms burning as you approach that 150-meter mark is something that will take at least another decade for me to forget. Let's see how far these breaststrokers are willing to push through the pain tonight.
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