By Phillip Whitten
SAN ANTONIO, Texas, December 2. UNIVERSITY of Alabama junior Vlad Polyakov turned in a dazzling 1:01.94 to win the men's 100 meter breaststroke on Day One of the US Open Championships in San Antonio, Texas, tonight.
Polyakov, who represents Kazakhstan internationally but lives in south Florida and attends Alabama, needed most of that dazzle as he was pushed all the way by Crimson Tide teammate Hunor Mate, who finished second in 1:02.69.
Polyakov burst on the international scene just two years ago when he swam a 2:15 to win the 200m breast at the NCSA Junior Nationals. Initially under the guidance of Coach Don Wagner at Alabama, he made great strides and has just kept improving under present Tide coach Eric McIlquham.
Polyakov's victory was one of six by foreign swimmers at the Open.
Costa Rica's Claudia Poll out-dueled Canada's Brittany Reimer to take the women's 400 free. Even at 2:05.08 at the 200, the wily veteran pulled away from the Canadian distance hope to touch first in 4:11.69 Reimers followed in 4:12.65.
Michael Alexandrov, a freshman at Northwestern who represents Bulgaria internationally (his dad was a Bulgarian Olympian) owned the men's 200 IM, winning by over five seconds in a strong 2:03.57.
Venezuela's Ricardo Monasterio cruised to a three-second win in the 400m free in 3:54.23, four strokes in front of Longhorn Aquatics' Michael Klueh.
Ryan Lochte (Univ. of Florida) breezed in the 200 back in 2:02.21 while Nick Brunelli (Sun Devils Aquatics) overwhelmed the field in winning the 50 free (22.84).
In the men's 800m free relay, Florida was a second-and-a-half faster than Alabama, 7:43.20 to 7:44.71.
On the women's side, sixteen year-old Jennifer Forster led the entire way to win the 200 IM in 2:16.87.
Sixteen year-old Erica Meissner fought off a challenge from Britain's Beth
Simmonds to win the 200m back in 2:14.15, two-tenths ahead of the fast-closing Simmonds. Fourteen year-old Teresa Crippen (does that last name ring a bell?) was a strong third in 2:15.01.
Alexi Spann, Longhorn, daughter of former great Scott Spann, took the 100m breast in 1:11.24, just outlasting Germany's Vipa Bernhardt, who cut a six-tenths of a second margin at the 50 to six-hundredths of a second at the wall.
Canada's Laura Nicholls was the winner of the 50 free in 26.14, four-hundredths in front of Arlene Semeco. Masters swimmer Trina Radke, 33, was sixth in 26.63.
Great Britain took the 800m free relay in 8:23.52, just over three seconds ahead of Longhorn.