Column by John Lohn, Swimming World senior writer
NEW YORK, New York, December 6. I will be the first to admit that a few months ago, I took a shot at the state of the men's breaststroke in the United States. Coming off the Pan Pacific Championships, there was reason for concern, given the weak performances that were posted at the William Woollett Aquatic Center.
After this weekend, there is some buzz over Mike Alexandrov, the former Northwestern standout and now representative of the United States in international competition. Alexandrov was one of those men competing for the United States at Pan Pacs, and his times in the long-course pool were far from the earth-shattering kind.
Over the weekend, Alexandrov was among the headliners at the U.S. Short Course Championships. He set American records in the 100- and 200-yard breaststroke events, and these performances have some thinking that Alexandrov is going to rise up and give the American arsenal the boost it needs in the breast. Yes, Alexandrov had a tremendous weekend in Ohio, but it's still too early to suggest he can provide, say, a stellar 100 breast leg on the 400 medley relay.
Alexandrov has long been a sensation in the short-course pool, evident in what he did at Nationals and in the NCAA titles he won at Northwestern. And while he has had a solid international career in the long-course realm, his performances haven't matched up. For the United States' sake, let's hope Alexandrov can carry his latest exploits into the 50-meter jungle. Until that happens, though, I'll stand by my belief that the Stars and Stripes remains in trouble in the men's breaststroke disciplines.
**Speaking of Northwestern products, Matt Grevers had a tough summer, failing to qualify for the American squad that will compete at the World Championships in Shanghai in seven months. How would Grevers respond to the disappointment? Well, his efforts at Short Course Nationals portray a man on a mission.
Although it wasn't in a long-course format, Grevers had an exceptional meet, winning the 100 freestyle, 100 backstroke and 100 butterfly. All of his times were impressive and each event reflected a victory over a top-flight opponent. In the 100 backstroke, Grevers' time of 44.82 wasn't far off the American standard of 44.60, set by Ryan Lochte in 2006.
**When Dave Salo lured Vladimir Morozov to the University of Southern California, it was Salo's best recruiting effort in his rebuilding of the Trojans. Swimming World Magazine's High School Male Swimmer of the Year last year, Morozov has looked phenomenal during the early stages of his collegiate career, including clocking of 19.32 and 42.12 in the 100 free.
A native of Russia, Morozov indicated a desire to represent the United States in international competition during a Morning Swim Show appearance. Umm, if anything can be done to fast-track his way into the Red, White and Blue, let's get the job done. This kid is going to be something else.
**More proof of the sensational job being done by Dave Salo at USC could be seen at Short Course Nationals in the performances of Katinka Hosszu, Haley Anderson, Presley Bard and Lyndsay De Paul. Hosszu won the 200 IM, 400 IM and 200 butterfly while Bard (100 backstroke) and De Paul (100 butterfly) also notched individual triumphs. Anderson checked in with wins in the 500 and 1650 freestyles. Making the weekend more impressive, USC registered three relay victories.
Of course, Salo is not just developing collegiate stars. As most of you know, his troops at Trojan Swim Club also include Rebecca Soni, Jessica Hardy and Kosuke Kitajima, among others. The man can flat-out coach.