Commentary by Shoshanna Rutemiller
PHOENIX, Arizona, January 19. AFTER watching night two of the Austin Arena Grand Prix, I have one question: where do I submit my application for the US National Team? What's that … it's based on how fast you swim? Shoot. So, since I've already hit a major roadblock, settling for commenting on their incredible team dynamics will have to do.
Night two started off with Tyler Clary admitting to a friendly bet with Ryan Lochte before this morning's 400 IM prelims, regarding breaking a 4:30 in the race “cold turkey” (i.e. sans warm-up). Later in the evening, Matt Grevers sarcastically told Rowdy Gaines after his 200 backstroke win that getting ahead of second-place finisher Clary early in the race was, “Exactly the strategy [to win]. I figured that if he saw me a little bit ahead, he'd just give up.” Clary swam a nightmare finals session tonight: 400 IM and 200 backstroke. Ice bath, anyone?
Of course all of the jabs are in jest. More than merely for fun, this jokester quality among National teammates illustrates two key components of the team: they can compete fiercely against one another and still remain friends out of the water. Nowhere was this more apparent than in tonight's Race of the Night: the men's 200 freestyle.
Lochte lead the field by a slight margin until the last 50 meters, when Ricky Berens surged ahead of his pink-speedo-wearing competitor, who faded to third at the finish behind Berens and Michael Kleuh.
But the best part of the race was the interview after, when Berens detailed the nail-biting last turn of the race to Rowdy Gaines:
“Ryan was looking this way, and I was looking that way…I swear we made eye contact and I just sprinted home.”
Berens certainly put it into high gear on the last 50, splitting a 27.23 for a final time of 1:48.39. For comparison's sake, Lochte split a 29.42 on the last 50, touching third at a 1:50.19. Kleuh took silver at a 1:49.48.
Fortunately, no hard feelings are expected to result from this upset… just good stories shared among teammates.