By Kevin Milak
FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla., April 7. THE weather has been picture-perfect this week at the International Swimming Hall of Fame aquatic complex for the YMCA Nationals. The top men’s performer so far has been 16-year old Patrick Schirk, from Pottstown, PA. Schirk has swept the men’s backstroke events, winning the 100 on the first night of competition with a 49.28. He then blew the field away by over five seconds in the 200, touching first in an impressive 1:45.10.
For the women, it has been 15-year old Ashley Jones of Joliet, IL, who took the finals in the 200 IM with a 2:01.00, winning by a second-and-a-half. But she was absolutely dominant in the 400 IM, touching in 4:14.61, winning by five seconds.
The women’s backstrokes have been run by a pair of 14-year olds, Lauren English from Montclair and Tricia Weaner from West Shore. English touched first in the 100 with a winning time of 55.31, with Weaner second in 55.66. The girls would flip-flop in the 200 with Weaner taking the win in 1:58.13 and English finishing second in 1:59.94.
Another 14-year old, Leah Gingrich from West Shore, won both the 500 and 1000 freestyles, touching first in 4:51.03 and 9:56.70.
For the men, other double winners so far include Andrew Langenfeld, from Mt.Vernon, IL, who won the 50 free in 20.62 and the 100 fly in 49.38. Downtown Spokane’s CJ Nuess took the 200 IM in 1:51.00 and the 200 breast in 2:02.25, winning by nearly three seconds.
The team race may come down to ME Lyons’ tried and true formula that has won several YMCA National titles over the years: Quality + Depth + Dominant Relays = Another National Title
This proved the most evident in the men’s 500 free with ME Lyons’ Hank Browning winning in 4:25.76, with teammates Kevin Nead finishing third and Sean Davis touching fifth. The trio added Kyle Greene (who finished sixth in the 200 free) to win the 800 free relay by over 12 seconds.
ME Lyons' Kevin Nead would also win the men's 400 IM, blowing the field away with a 3:53.05.