Photo by Griffin Scott
Editorial coverage for U.S. Senior Nationals proudly sponsored by Master Spas!
By David Rieder
IRVINE, California, August 7. THE men’s 200 free has entered a period of transition. Michael Phelps has come back, but he won’t swim the event at Nationals this year. Peter Vanderkaay retired after the 2012 Olympics. Ricky Berens retired after anchoring the gold medal-winning 800 free relay at Worlds last year. Ryan Lochte will be in the event today, but he has just come off a major knee injury and has missed significant stretches of training and racing.
Today, Conor Dwyer will be the favorite to earn his first national title in that event. He won the silver medal behind training partner Yannick Agnel at the World Championshops last year, beating out fourth place Lochte in the process. Yesterday, Dwyer took advantage of a slow heat in the 100 free final, touching the wall in 49.06 for fourth place, booking his spot on the Pan Pacs team earlier than some expected. The time fell just a tenth of a second short of his best time, 48.94, in a field when all other competitors added significant chunks from their best times and even prelims times.
Dwyer has worked on developing his versatility this year, and he could end up on the Pan Pacs team in the IMs and 400 free as well. Still, this event has become his best. Look for him to break into the 1:45-mid range today – he would need a spectacular swim to get under 1:45 in a relatively weak field. Lochte never lets a race go without a tough fight, and veterans such as Connor Jaeger, Matt McLean, and Charlie Houchin will have something to say as well. But don’t be surprised if the 200 free turns out to be the least competitive battle for first today.