FEDERAL WAY, Washington, March 29. LUCKILY, there was no fire today at the Weyerhauser King County Aquatic Center, home of this year’s Spring National Championships. At least, not outside of the pool. In the water, several Olympians, world-championship team members and even some new faces did a fine job keeping things hot.
Kicking the night off on the distance end of the spectrum was Kate Ziegler, starting the women’s 800 freestyle in the lead and never letting go, using a smooth cadence and a two-beat kick to outdistance the field by over ten seconds. She finished ahead of the pack in 8:34.56, a quality warm-up as she will leave from Seattle to compete as part of Team USA at the World Short Course Championships next week in China.
In the men’s 1,500 free, it was Mission Viejo’s Justin Mortimer in 15:23.27 after breaking from a tightly bunched pack with only 300 meters to go. Mortimer touched ahead of Fernando Costa (15:25.36) who won the battle for second after a fight with Chip Peterson, who finished third in 15:25.87.
In the women’s 100 freestyle North Baltimore’s wunderkind Katie Hoff, 16, took first place in 55.41 after a 55.69 swim this morning. Rhi Jeffrey, a 2004 Olympian, finished second in 55.68 after jumping out to a quick start and touching first at the 50 (27.01). Hoff also took second later in the night in the women’s 200 butterfly with a 2:10.67. She finished behind North Baltimore teammate Courtney Kalisz, a teenager who won the event with a strong effort of 2:09.77.
In the men's 100 freestyle, Dale Rogers outdistanced himself from the field at the halfway point, splitting a 23.92 on his way to a 50.38 victory. His lead dwindled as the race went on, as David Walters was mounting a comeback. But Walters ran out of pool and finished second in 50.44. Hometown hero and Cal-bound standout Nathan Adrian (Tacoma Swim Club) finished third in 50.51.
The breaststroke events saw a mix of old and new tonight. In the women’s 200 breaststroke, Keri Hehn of Mission Viejo went into the finals as the top seed after a preliminary swim of 2:31.93, just over two-tenths ahead of 2000 Olympian Megan Jendrick (KING). But tonight the roles reversed and it was Jendrick, the 2000 Olympic champion in the 100 meter breaststroke, finishing ahead and winning her first title of the meet in front of a hometown crowd in 2:29.06. If these were still considered national titles, this would mark Jendrick’s 10th. Finishing just under two seconds behind Jendrick was 15-year-old Caitlin Leverenz in 2:30.94. Hehn finished seventh in 2:33.64.
For the men, the 200 breaststroke was absent several notable faces, but that provided ample opportunity for some new blood to get some national exposure. Winning the event was 22-year-old Matthew Coenen in 2:19.98, ahead of Jake Salaz in 2:20.30. Another KING Aquatics member and hometown swimmer, Jon Hiett, finished fourth in 2:21.09.
Turning over to their backs, the swimmers that won the women and men’s 200 backstroke events were Julia Smit (2:12.68) and 16-year-old Omar Pinzon (2:01:68) respectively. Taking the men’s 200 meter butterfly was 17-year-old Daniel Madwed who won handedly in a solid performance of 1:57.56.
The meet continues Thursday with the 200 meter freestyle, the 400 meter individual medley and the 800 meter freestyle relay.