By Kari Lydersen
Oklahoma City, OK – The first two days of the Nike Kerr-McGee Pro-Am Swim Meet at the Oklahoma City Community College Natatorium showcased some fast unshaved swimming by top Olympic hopefuls including Josh Davis, Ashley Tappin and Natalie Coughlin.
Coughlin, 17, won the 1,000 yard freestyle by 17 seconds in 9:50.53, a personal best time even though she is unshaved. She also turned in unshaved bests or near-bests to take first in the 400y IM (4:11.82) and second in the 200 free (1:46.54). National Resident Team member Tappin won the close 200 free race with a 1:46.39 and also won the 100 fly in 53.73.
“I’m really happy with my swims so far this meet,” said Coughlin, who swims for the Terrapins. “My fall has been really on and off, so this is nice. Just this week I’ve been playing around with underwater side kicks in free, and I think it’s working.”
Katie McClelland, an SMU graduate, won the 100 breast in 1:01.58, with more than a two-second margin over second place Katie Yevak’s 1:03.93.
On the men’s side, Davis turned in an impressive unshaved 1:35.23 to win the 200 free, with Dan Phillips second at 1:36.29. Davis’s time was only 1.2 seconds slower than the meet record he established shaved, last year, despite the fact that he had been so sick he contemplated leaving the meet. “That felt pretty good,” said Davis of the race.
Matt Hooper won the 1,000 free in 9:09.58 ahead of Sergei Mariniuk (9:12.03). Mariniuk won the 400 IM in 3:53.42. Brendon Dedekind took the 100 breast in 54.71, well ahead of Michael Bruce at 56.80. Jason Lezak won the 100 fly in 47.97, edging the National Resident Team’s Jarod Schroeder at 48.13.
Professional swimmers get cash prizes of $600, $300, and $100 for the top three finishes, while amateur athletes (those that are eligible to compete in high school and college) get credits at the meet store.
The Nike Kerr-McGee Pro-Am continues December 18 and 19, highlighted by the famous 50 Free Shoot-Out on December 18. The elimination-style shoot-out features Tom Jager, Neil Walker, Phillips and Schroeder, among others, on the men’s side. On the women’s side, NRT members Ashley Tappin and Ashley Mosher are among the competitors. The winner receives $1,500.
On Sunday, a $2,500 bonus will be offered by USA Swimming for an American record in the 1,650 yard freestyle.