Photo by Azaria Basile
Editorial coverage for U.S. Senior Nationals proudly sponsored by Master Spas!
By David Rieder
IRVINE, California, August 8. LET’S face it, we’ve beaten pretty much every other big story today into the ground. Anyone and their mother who turns on ESPN today will know about the big Phelps vs. Lochte “showdown” in the 100 fly. Chase Kalisz burned the 400 IM at NCAAs, taking a second and a half off Tyler Clary’s American record in the event, and even Clary won’t hesitate to admit that Kalisz has reached a whole new level. Meanwhile, Elizabeth Beisel has her big chance today to make the team in the 400 IM after a big slip last night.
Other events on the docket today include the 50 back and 50 breast, both non-selection events for Pan Pacs, and the women’s 100 fly. Despite the U.S.’s struggles in the 200 fly, where no woman has won a medal at a Worlds or Olympics since 2007, the team has been consistently strong in the 100 fly, with Christine Magnuson winning Olympic silver in 2008 and Dana Vollmer winning the world title in 2011 and the Olympic gold medal in 2012. But now, for the first time in a decade, the 100 fly at Nationals will feature neither of them.
In just one year, this event has gone from having a consistent medal contender in Vollmer to having almost nothing. Claire Donahue has to be the favorite after swimming in the final at the Olympics in 2012 and the World Championships final last year, but she has never been in medal contention. Felicia Lee will be looking for her first national title in long course after winning NCAAs as a senior in March, but her seed time is 58.80. Kendyl Stewart could make an impact after winning the 50 fly last night, but she finished outside the top 16 at NCAAs. Katie McLaughlin could be a factor, but the 100 might be too short for her at this point. No one has a seed time under 58.
Certainly, opportunity exists for someone to step up and take the win. Without a strong fly leg, the U.S. women’s medley relay looks vulnerable for the first time in four years, a stretch in which Vollmer always helped balloon the lead on the fly leg. Australia and Denmark each have very balanced teams that could challenge the U.S. in the years to come. In order for the U.S. to feel good about its relay chances at Pan Pacs, someone will need to swim under 58, maybe even 57-mid. Who will step up to the challenge remains to be seen.