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By David Rieder
IRVINE, Califonia, August 6. THE second day of preliminary action at the Speedo Junior Nationals in Irvine featured three meet records falling in two events. Jay Litherland knocked off one mark in the men’s 400 IM, while two records fell in the men’s 200 back, as Alexander Katz took down Connor Green’s two minute-old mark in the final heat.
Women’s 400 IM
Five women swam under 4:50 in the first preliminary event of the second morning of action. Bluefish’s Brooke Zeiger led the way into the top heat with a 4:45.81, just edging Socal’s Ella Eastin, who qualified second in 4:45.94. SwimMAC Carolina’s Kathleen Baker picked up the third spot in 4:47.25, and Clearwater’s Becca Mann finished fourth in 4:47.80. Each of these four times would have qualified for the finals at U.S. Nationals last month, but only Mann swam in that championship heat.
Denver Hilltoppers’ Haley Rowley (4:49.95), Fishers’ Lauren Edelman (4:50.94), Davis’ Aquatics’ Tara Halsted (4:51.24), and Ozaukee’s Katherine Drabot (4:51.73) all earned swims in the top heat tonight.
Men’s 400 IM
Dynamo’s Jay Litherland took down the second Kyle Whitaker meet record in as many days in the prelims of this event, clocking 4:17.58 for the top seed. That clipped Whitaker’s 4:17.59 from 2009. Andrew Seliskar previously took down Whitaker’s record in the 200 fly. Litherland will swim in lane four in the final, but he will have to watch out for teammate Gunnar Bentz in lane five. Bentz, the winner of the 200 breast on Monday, qualified second in 4:18.93, and he will be charging on the second leg.
Aquazot’s Corey Okubo qualified third in 4:19.06, while Palo Alto Stanford’s Curtis Ogren edged Bluefish’s Connor Green for the fourth qualifying spot, 4:20.03 to 4:20.29. North Texas’ Jonathan Roberts, the winner of the 1500 free on Monday, qualified sixth in 4:23.08, and Wilton Y’s Ian Rainey (4:23.97) and Dayton Raiders’ Patrick Mulcare (4:24.03) will join him in the outside lanes in the final.
Women’s 100 Free
Academy Bullets’ Mary Schneider swam under 56 seconds to lead the prelims of the women’s 100 free. She clocked 55.92 for the top seed, while Mission Viejo’s Katie McLaughlin, Tuesday’s winner in the women’s 200 fly, picked up second in 56.12. Fox Chapel’s Heidi Miller recorded a time of 56.23 for third, followed by Canyons Aquatics’ Abbigail Weitzeil (56.32), JCC Waves’ Lindsey Engel (56.34), Schroeder Y’s Alexandra Meyers (56.37), Dynamo’s Nicole Stafford (56.43), and Kamehameha’s Jasmine Mau (56.44). The top eight will be separated by just over a half second in the final.
Men’s 100 Free
A pair of Bolles swimmers crushed their competition in the men’s 100 free. Caeleb Dressel touched in 49.28 for the top overall time, but he will have teammate Santo Condorelli right next to him in the final, as Condorelli qualified second in 49.38. The two could have a bit of clean water tonight, as Splash’s Paul Powers finished more than a half second back in third in 49.94 to pick up the third seed. No other swimmers broke 50 seconds in the prelims.
North Texas’ Brett Ringgold (50.39), Redlands’ Kyle Gornay (50.47), Greater Omaha’s Jacob Molacek (50.60), NOVA of Virginia’s Francis Haas (50.60), Duneland’s Blake Pieroni (50.68) all swam fast enough to qualify for the championship final tonight.
A pair of ties in the event set up swim-offs: Pro Swimming’s Trevor Carroll and Iowa Flyers’ Mark McGlaughlin each touched at 51.39, tying for 16th place overall. Caroll ended up getting the win in the swim-off, 51.36 to 51.73, after the two were tied at the 50, much to the delight of the crowd. Caroll will swim the B-final tonight, while McGlaughlin will be the top seed in the C-final. Meanwhile, Upper Dublin’s Michael Jensen and Saint Andrews’ Gage Kohner each posted times of 51.81 in prelims for 25th place, necessitating a swim off to decide the first and second alternate positions. Jensen ended up taking down Kohner, 51.72 to 52.28.
Women’s 200 Back
Four 17 year olds threw down 2:12s in the 200 back prelims to set themselves up for a nice race in the finale. AquaKids Sharks’ Clara Smiddy qualified first in 2:12.32, and Dynamo’s Kylie Stewart finished in the second spot in 2:12.58. Bluefish’s Brooke Zeiger edged Tri-City Channel’s Lisa Bratton for third, 2:12.74 to 2:12.81. These four still have a long way to go to chase down the meet record, however; Missy Franklin has that mark with a 2:09.16 from 2009.
Central Bucks’ Allie Szekely qualified for her first final of the meet with a 2:13.90. She had a disappointing swim on Monday in the 200 breast, the event in which she set the meet record last year, but she rebounded nicely to drop a half second from her seed time to qualify fifth. Triangle Aquatic Club’s Hannah Moore (2:14.32), Irvine Novaquatics’ Courtney Mykkanen (2:14.55), and Cameron McHugh (2:14.88) all earned spots in the top eight.
Men’s 200 Back
Headed into the final two heats of the preliminary session, no man had ever broken 2:00 in the men’s 200 back at Junior Nationals. Bluefish’s Connor Green changed that when he clocked 1:59.90 to break Matt Thompson’s meet record of 2:00.50 from 2007. However, Green’s record would last all of two minutes before Sarasota Y’s Alexander Katz blasted a 1:59.42 for another new meet record and the top seed. Katz could go even faster in the final, as he entered the day with a seed time of 1:58.95.
Katz and Green should battle it out in the final; no one finished close to them in prelims as Aquazot’s Corey Okubo claimed the third seed in 2:01.97, edging Dayton Raiders’ Brock Turner, who came in at 2:02.00. Badger’s Patrick Conaton (2:02.18), Dynamo’s Litherland (2:02.22), Denver Swim Academy’s Hennessey Stuart (2:02.22), and Palo Alto Stanford’s Ogren (2:02.39) will join the top four in the final tonight. Green, Litherland, and Ogren will see plenty of each other in tonight’s finals session, as all three also qualified for the 400 IM final.