PHOENIX, Arizona, March 2. STANFORD looks to be in good shape to win its 31st consecutive conference title this weekend, leading after two days by 67 points over California. The Pac 12 meet last night featured a convincing win by Stanford freshman David Nolan, who won the 200 IM with a 1:42.52. We know that Nolan is capable of swimming faster than that, and without knowing the precise level of rest he's getting for this meet, it's hard to know if there is a 1:41 or better waiting in the wings at NCAAs. Also picking up a big win last night was Chad La Tourette, who surprisingly has never won a 500 freestyle at the conference meet. He did it last night with a 4:17.38 in a very close field that had the top three within seven tenths of each other. Vlad Morozov won the 50 free in 19.48, then led off USC's 200 free relay in 19.27.
David Nolan had so many options for which event to swim on the second day, and he'll race the 100 backstroke against a tough field that includes Arizona's lethal duo of Cory Chitwood, who was sixth in this event at last year's NCAAs, and Arizona's Mitchell Friedemann, who so far has the fastest time in the country with his 45.86 from December. Tom Shields, who is the reigning NCAA champion, will also be in the title hunt in tonight's finals. As expected, Shields is racing the tough 100 fly-100 back double today.
The British Olympic Trials begins tomorrow at the site of the Olympic swimming competition, and several non-Brits will also be in attendance, as the meet also serves as the venue's official swimming test event before the Olympics. Though it's not clear if the host country automatically gets two bids per event in swimming, as is the case in a few other sports, the battle for those two spots in Great Britain will be tough in some events. Several top swimmers from France will be racing there as they prepare for their Olympic Trials in two weeks. Yannick Agnel, Camille Muffat, Clement Lefert and Sebastien Rouault will be testing out the Olympic pool, along with a long line of names we'll likely see racing in Olympic finals in July. China's Wu Peng, Poland's Konrad Czerniak, Sweden's Sarah Sjostrom, Germany's Paul Biedermann, Denmark's Lotte Friis, Spain's Mireia Belmonte, Austria's Markus Rogan and Serbia's Milorad Cavic. South Africa's Chad Le Clos was expected to attend the meet, but announced that illness will be keeping him at home. This is the first big Trials of the year, and we'll be covering it for you each day on swimmingworld.com.
Just across the Irish Sea, the Irish Olympic Trials are taking place. After two days, no one has surpassed the FINA A cut, but two national records were set this morning in prelims. Bethany Carson swam a 1:00.58 in the women's 100 fly to break the 15-year-old record held by Olympic champion Michelle Smith by one-hundredth of a second. Melanie Nocher put everything into her prelim swim in the 200 backstroke today in an attempt to reach the FINA A standard, but missed it by nine tenths with a time of 2:1171. The silver lining is that she broke her own national record by .03. She will have more opportunities to get under the A standard in the semifinals and finals of the event.
This weekend in Austin is the American Short Course Championships, where male college swimmers are getting another chance at qualifying for the NCAAs, and a few postgrads are stepping up for some in-season racing. Garrett Weber-Gale was the highlight yesterday, winning the 50 free with a 19.20. Texas' 200 free relay team of Jimmy Feigen, Charlie Moore, Tripp Cooper and Dax Hill won that event with a 1:17.55, which is the fastest 200 free relay the Longhorns have put up this season and is second in the country right now. Brendan Hansen also stepped up in the 200 IM, placing third with a 1:47.33 and setting up for what are bound to be two fast swims in the 100 and 200 breaststrokes.
The USA Swimming sectional meets kick back into gear this weekend with competitions in Oklahoma and Texas. These meets will be opportunities for some swimmers to go for their Olympic Trials standards, as the meets will be in long course meters. Often, some notable names show up at these meets for some local in-season competition, and we'll be keeping an eye on them as well.