PHOENIX, Arizona, February 13. SWIMMING fans had a lot to follow this weekend, both in and out of the pool all over the world. We had a few teenagers set national high school records, some international Olympic hopefuls post some quick long course times and a marriage proposal that took the swimming community by surprise.
Let's start with those national high school records in the United States. Missy Franklin got things rolling with an independent national mark in the 200 freestyle at the Colorado state meet. In prelims on Friday, Franklin swam a 1:43.98 to break Chelsea Chenault's record of 1:45.12 set last year, then returned to Saturday's finals and swam a 1:43.15. Two things should be noted of those swims. First, Franklin is not fully rested for this meet, which her club coach Todd Schmitz told Swimming World a few months ago would be the case. Second, this swim was done at 5,000 feet above sea level, which makes any race 200 yards and longer a little tougher. If you do a conversion for altitude, Franklin would have like swim under 1:42 in the event at sea level. Dagny Knutson still holds the overall national high school record of 1:42.81, which should be in jeopardy next year when Franklin competes in her senior year, which is very likely to be the case. Franklin closed out her meet with a 52.76 in the 100 back and a 47.69 anchor split on the 400 free relay.
The Tennessee state championships saw two national high school records fall over the weekend. First, Maclin Davis swam a 46.64 in prelims on Friday to become the first high school swimmer under 47 seconds in the 100 butterfly. Davis, a senior at Montgomery Bell Academy, broke Sean Fletcher's record of 47.08, then came back in finals to swim a 46.72. Davis isn't a one-trick pony, though. He split 21.03 on the fly leg of the medley relay, swam a 44.79 in the 100 free and anchored his team's 400 free relay with a 44.31 to help Montgomery Bell win the boys team title. The second national record broken at the meet was the girls 200 free relay by Baylor School, who reset their own record of 1:32.63 with a 1:31.18. Kristen Vredeveld helped the squad with an amazing 22.27 leadoff leg that was three hundredths off the national high school record in the 50 free. Baylor, who has been perennially at the top of the national ranks, will likely be a contender for the Swimming World girls national team title later this year.
Jack Conger has been on our radar mostly as a backstroker, but last weekend he let us know how versatile he is in the pool. At the DC Metro championships, Conger got closer to Jeff Kostoff's fabled national high school record in the 500 free than anyone ever has with a 4:17.51. Kostoff's record of 4:16.39 has stood since 1983. Conger also showed some amazing sprinting ability with a 19.85 in the 50 free, a 20.8 butterfly leg on the medley relay and 43.0 anchoring Good Counsel's 400 free relay.
From American high school to Sydney, Australia, where the Aussies put up one more meet before their Olympic Trials. Many of the names we will likely see in London put up world-leading times. Melanie Schlanger has been making her comeback much quieter than other Australians, posting a lifetime best Friday in the 100 free and Sunday in the 200 free. Emily Seebohm is on top of the world – at least for now – in two events: the 100 back and 200 IM. The world rankings in the 200 IM features Australians holding the top three spots, with reigning Olympic champion Stephanie Rice down in 12th place. That event is bound to be one of the closest races at the Australian Olympic Trials, especially with only two places up for grabs.
Tae Hwan Park of Korea provided the biggest highlight of the meet on Sunday. Not long after placing third in the 50 free with a 22.74, Park put up a very, very fast 1500 free: a 14:47.38 that would have placed fifth at last year's world championships. Park told media that his focus is still on the 400 free, the event in which he is hoping to defend his Olympic title, and did not indicate if the mile is going to be a part of his Olympic schedule.
Great Britain's Ellen Gandy also put up a world-leading time in the 200 fly with a 2:05.95 and in the 100 fly with a 57.67, though that would be bumped down later that day to number two in the world. Gandy has been training in Australia for the past few years, but will be one to watch in three weeks at the British Olympic Trials.
Some of Gandy's potential Olympic teammates raced at the British University championships in Sheffield last weekend. Rebecca Adlington leads the world right now in the 800 free with an 8:22.35, and Elizabeth Simmonds, on a hot streak after great performances at the Duel in the Pool a couple of months ago, is at the top of the world rankings in the 200 back with her 2:07.92. Fran Halsall was the one who toppled Ellen Gandy from the world rankings in the 100 fly with a 57.67, giving Great Britain the top two places on the world rankings list so far this year.
Kerri Anne-Payne did not have an easy path to winning her seventh-straight Midmar Mile in South Africa on Saturday. Ashley Twichell of the United States The two were stroke for stroke the entire race, with each trying to break away at various points in the race. Payne was able to find the strength for a final sprint in the last 50 meters to beat Twichell by two seconds. Chad Ho had no equal in his race, winning by 20 seconds over countryman Troy Prinsloo for his third consecutive title.
Back here in the States, international swimmers almost stole the show at the Missouri Grand Prix in Columbia. Canada and Brazil looked very strong at the meet, with most of the top American swimmers skipping the competition. Eric Shanteau and Katie Ledecky were the bright spots for the Americans. Shanteau won the 200 breast with a 2:10.47 that is second in the world rankings. Ledecky won the 800 free in 8:30.14, a time that puts the 14-year-old fourth in the world.
But those two swims – and pretty much everyone else's – was overshadowed by the events on the award podium for the men's 100 back on Saturday. After Matt Grevers accepted his medal for winning with a 53.57 – which is a very fast in-season time – he asked his longtime girlfriend Annie Chandler to marry him. Though the swimming community had long expected the two to tie the knot in the future, the timing of the proposal surprised just about everyone. Chandler said yes, and set the social media on fire Saturday evening. Swimming World would like to congratulate the two on the engagement.