PHOENIX, Arizona, February 27. ANOTHER weekend, another slate of very fast competition. On Friday's show we told you about Breeja Larson's NCAA record in the 100-yard breaststroke at the Big 12 championships. Larson, a sophomore at Texas A&M, didn't lower the record of 57.9 in finals, swimming 'only' a 58.39. She came back on Saturday to let her competition know she'll be a force in the 200 breast as well at NCAAs, swimming a 2:06.94 in finals after a 2:06.84 in prelims. Larson's two wins and her contributions on the winning medley relays helped the Aggies win their final Big 12 team title. They'll be moving on to the Southeastern conference next season, where teams such as Georgia and Tennessee await them.
The California women's swim team won the Pac 12 title over Stanford, thanks to their star breaststroker, Caitlin Leverenz. After posting the third-fastest 200 IM in history on Saturday, Leverenz chased the American record in the 400 IM on Friday night. With reigning NCAA champion Katinka Hosszu not swimming the event, Leverenz was not pushed, but still posted her first sub-four minute swim with a 3:58.46, just two tenths away from Julia Smit's American record set in 2010. She followed that up with a 2:05.4 in the 200 breaststroke on Saturday, making her second-fastest in that event behind Rebecca Soni's 2:04.7. Hosszu elected to swim the 200 free instead of the 400 IM at the Pac 12 meet, and won that over Cal's Liv Jensen with a 1:43.15.
USC junior Haley Anderson is putting Janet Evans' legendary NCAA record in the 1650 freestyle on notice, winning that event at Pac 12s with a 15:41.52, a little more than two seconds off Evans' record set in 1990. She will have a battle with Wendy Trott in that race at NCAAs.
Texas cruised to yet another conference title, despite relatively flat performances from their top swimmers. Jimmy Feigen ended his Big-12 career with fourth consecutive wins in the 50 and 100 free, and teammate Nick D'Innocenzo won both the 200 breast and 400 IM. Defending NCAA champion Michael McBroom won the men's 1650, but his time of 14:53.86 will likely leave him outside of the top eight seeds for the NCAA championships, forcing him to defend his title from a slower heat.
At the Big-10 Championships, Daniel Madwed swept the 100 and 200 fly in his final conference meet for the University of Michigan. The Wolverines would go on to win the team title, with Kyle Whitaker adding big points with a win in the 400 IM and two 1-2-3 sweeps. Connor Jaeger, Sean Ryan, and Ryan Feeley posted the three fastest times in the country this year in the 1650 before Madwed, Whitaker, and John Wojciechowski matched that feat in the 200 fly. This Michigan team is the strongest to go to the NCAA Championships in several years, and they could chase a top-five finish.
The University of Virginia Cavaliers won their fifth-straight ACC men's title this weekend, holding off Virginia Tech in the final few events after the Cavaliers were disqualified in the 400 medley relay on Friday to put other teams back into the title hunt. The meet ended, however, with a rousing cheer for the Clemson Tigers, who swam in their final ACC meet, as the team will be cut after this season. Clemson had some great performances, though, as Chris Dart picked up a win in the 200 back, and Eric Bruck won the 50 and 100 free.
On to high school news, where the New Trier High School boys 400 freestyle relay broke one of the most difficult barriers to break in high school swimming, going a 2:59.76 in the prelims of the Illinois state championships on Friday. The team of Sam Skinner, Reed Malone, Jack Mangan and Max Grodecki became the second team of high school swimmers to break the three-minute barrier, after a foursome from Bolles did so in 1991. That time by Bolles, a 2:59.98, was not officially recognized as the national high school record because the swim was done after the Florida high school season, though it was done at a sanctioned high school competition. In any case, New Trier has now set a standard that will be chased for many years.
On Saturday, Germantown's Arthur Frayler swam an incredible 500 free at the Eastern Interscholastic Swimming and Diving Championships in Philadelphia. Frayler swam a 4:17.96, coming up just short of the National Independent School Record of 4:17.51 that Jack Conger set just two weeks ago. Frayler did break the meet record of 4:19.54 held by the late Fran Crippen, and Frayler honored his friend by pointing skyward after the race. You can watch Frayler's race on-demand, along with interviews from the meet, at SwimmingWorld.TV.
Ian Thorpe competed this weekend at the Hi-Point meet in Zurich and recorded two lackluster performances. Thorpe came in at 52.28 in the 100 free and 3:59.48 in a rare 400 free appearance. Thorpe will have to drop a lot of time in the next month for a chance to make Australia's Olympic team, with at least seven Australians already posting times under 50 seconds.
Ranomi Kromowidjojo announced over the weekend that she will skip May's European Championships and put all her focus on the Olympics this summer. Kromowidjojo won three medals, one of each color, at the World Championships last year in Shanghai, and she should contend for gold in the 50 and 100 free in London, as well as help the Dutch defend their 400 free relay gold medal.
The FINA Diving World Cup wrapped up in London on Saturday with David Boudia earning fourth in the men's platform, and Kelci Bryant and Abby Johnston matched that finish in the women's three-meter synchro. The U.S. earned Olympic spots in both of these events and now has 11 out of 12 possible berths to fill for the London Olympics. Only the women's platform synchro event will be without an American this summer.
Ryan Lochte had a busy past few days in Florida. First, he served as grand marshal during a qualifying run at the Daytona 500 on Thursday, posing in this photo here with backstroker Ben Hesen. Then, he was in Orlando at the state senior championships, where he raced in five events along with other postgrad swimmers from the University of Florida. None of the times stood out, but it was another racing opportunity for the Olympic champion.
David Rieder contributed to today's Streamlined News.