PHOENIX, Arizona, August 24. JACK Conger has been flirting with Aaron Peirsol's national age group records for quite some time now, and he finally got one last night at the junior Pan Pacific championships in Hawaii. Conger won the 100 back with a 54.07, breaking Peirsol's record of 54.47 from 2002 in the 17-18 age group. Conger still has his best event, the 200 back, ahead of him, though he's also swimming the 50 and 100 freestyles at the meet.
The United States won four of the eight events yesterday, including a lifetime best swum by Chelsea Chenault in the 200 freestyle. Her time of 1:58.33 would have put her on the U.S. Olympic team. Olivia Smoliga won the women's 100 back in 1:01.03, well off her personal best but good enough to get to the wall ahead of teammate Kylie Stewart.
The other American victory came in the women's 800, with Leah Smith winning with an 8:28.01 in one of the early heats, beating out favorite Becca Mann, who swam in the final heat, by seven tenths of a second. Japan won two events on Thursday and Australia won the other two.
A race to watch today is the men's 100 breast. Japan's Akihiro Yamaguchi swam a 59.56 at the Japan Inter-high school championships a couple of weeks ago and will be the heavy favorite today, as no other swimmers has a seed time within two seconds of that.
In addition to TV talk show appearances, American Olympic swimmers are showing up on the baseball mound as well, with Nick Thoman set to throw out the first pitch at a Reds game this weekend in his hometown of Cincinnati. And Rowdy Gaines will throw out the first pitch at a Chicago Cubs game, a week after Conor Dwyer did the same for the Cubs.
Water polo player Brenda Villa is returning this weekend to City of Commerce, California, to a special ceremony renaming the Commerce Aquatorium to the Brenda Villa Aquatic Center. Villa started playing water polo there as a 6-year-old, and is now a four-time Olympic medalist, including a gold won this year in London.