GOODYEAR, Arizona, March 2. OLYMPIANS and world champions are mingling with some of Arizona's top teenage swimmers this weekend at the Arizona short course yards state championships, putting up quick times in the pool in between posing for photographs and signing autographs.
Friday's finals session started with an all-star lineup in the men's 200 medley relay, with Tucson Ford Dealers Aquatics' A team featuring 2012 short course world champion Robert Hurley, 2012 Olympian Clark Burckle, 2012 Olympic champion Matt Grevers and 2004 Olympic champion Darian Townsend. Their time of 1:24.86 was just .02 shy of the time the Tucson Ford/University of Arizona team of Mitchell Friedemann, Kevin Cordes, Giles Smith and Nicolas Popov swam to win the USA Swimming title on November 30 — and was likely a goal for the postgrads on Friday to beat their younger training partners.
The time the college swimmers posted in November was the official Arizona state record, but is still 1.3 seconds off the American record Arizona posted to win the NCAA title last year featuring Friedemann, Cordes, Smith and Adam Small (now graduated). The time swum at NCAAs is not counted as an Arizona LSC record because the swimmers were not representing USA Swimming clubs at the time.
Tucson Ford/Arizona (Nov. 30, 2012)
Friedemann (backstroke): 21.37
Cordes (breaststroke): 23.77
Smith (butterfly): 20.22
Popov (freestyle): 19.48
Tucson Ford (March 1, 2013)
Hurley (backstroke): 21.18
Burckle (breaststroke): 24.12
Grevers (butterfly): 19.82
Townsend (freestyle): 19.74
Race footage of the 200 medley relay
Less than 30 minutes later, the crowd at the Goodyear YMCA was focused on the men's 100 freestyle final, which featured Roland Schoeman, the 2004 Olympic silver medalist in the 100 free, battling Grevers, Townsend and Hurley. Grevers and Schoeman took the lead early and battled to the finish, with Schoeman touching in 42.31 to Grevers' 42.45. Townsend was third in 43.77. Australian Hurley, swimming in his first short course yards race, was fourth with a 43.92.
Race footage of the 100 freestyle
The swim marked Scheoman's third time under 43 seconds this year, starting with an identical 42.31 in an exhibition swim in January, followed by a 42.43 at the Phoenix Winter Invite on February 15.
For Grevers, it's not too far off the 41.71 he swam at the December nationals to win the title there. As was the case with Schoeman's first 42.31 in January, his time would have placed second at last year's NCAA championships. Grever's 42.43 would have placed third.
Members of the postgrad group at Tucson Ford told Swimming World that they decided to take an electric razor to their body to reduce some drag, but did not back down on training for the meet. That paid off dividends for Clark Burckle, who posted a quick 1:52.98 to win ahead of teammate Austen Thompson, the 2012 NCAA champion in the 400 IM, who was second with an equally impressive 1:54.33. Burckle sits as the second-fastest swimmer ever in the 200-yard breast, with a 1:51.20 to his credit from the December nationals. Only Kevin Cordes' American record of 1:50.73 is faster.
Race footage of the 200 breast
The evening's session concluded with another matchup between Schoeman and Grevers, this time as anchor legs for Tucson Ford and Phoenix Swim Club, respectively, in the 400 free relay. Grevers had a body length lead when he dove in, and held it with an incredible 41.93 split in his third swim of the day to give Tucson Ford the win. Schoeman tied Grevers' split with a 41.93 to help Phoenix Swim Club place second in the race.
Footage of the anchor legs in the 400 free relay