By David Rieder
IRVINE, California, August 1. THE third day of the U.S. Open featured the fastest swims of the meet thus far. After only three times that ranked in the top-ten in the world were posted on the meet’s first two days of actions, two swimmers posted top-five times on day three, times that will give the swimmers competing at the World Champs in Barcelona plenty to think about over the next few years.
Cal’s Tom Shields recorded a breakthrough performance in the men’s 100 fly. After completing his NCAA eligibility, where he won three NCAA titles in the event in four years, Shields turned his attention to the format which had, thus far, been less successful for him. After finishing fifth at U.S. Nationals in June at 52.32, Shields obliterated that time tonight with a 51.65. The time set a meet record, beating the 51.71 set by Kohei Kawamoto back in 2008. That swim moved him into fourth in the world, trailing just Steffen Deibler, Evgeny Korotyshkin, and Chad Le Clos, and it would have won him the National title last month, as Eugene Godsoe touched first in that race in 51.66.
Shields employed a different strategy than he used in his disappointing performance in Indianapolis. Whereas he opened in 24.32 and finished in 28.00 previously, he took the race out tonight in 24.60 and came home in a blazing 27.05, drawing on his NCAA experience in the 200 fly. That back half made the difference for Shields, as he overtook SwimMAC’s Tim Phillips, who put up an also-impressive 51.78 for second place. That clipped his 51.86 from Nationals and ranks him 11th in the world. New York Athletic Club’s Tyler McGill completed a swift podium with a 52.07 for third.
Gator’s Sebastian Rousseau put up his second world class time in three nights with his victory in the 400 IM. He dominated the field by four-and-a-half seconds, winning in 4:11.11. He beat Jack Brown’s meet record, a 4:12.58 from 2008, and he moved into fourth in the world this year, as only Kosuke Hagino, Thomas Fraser-Holmes, and Daiya Seto have been faster. A time in that range could contend for a medal at the World Championships later this week. Meanwhile, Dynamo’s Gunnar Bentz used exceptional breaststroke and freestyle legs to run down the rest of the field and earn second place, clocking 4:15.81, while Indiana’s Stephen Schmuhl picked up third place in 4:16.07.
Stanford’s Felicia Lee continued her resurgent summer with a victory in the women’s 100 fly. Lee, about to begin her senior year at Stanford, bounced back this year after she underwent shoulder surgery following Olympic Trials in 2012. She clocked 58.82 in prelims, improving upon her 59.21 she swam at Nationals to take third, and she picked up the win in finals in 58.94. In a tight battle for second, Australia’s Christina Licciardi touched out Nofio Cymru’s Tilly Gray, 59.27 to 59.28, while T2’s Erika Erndl swam a time of 59.32 for fourth place.
Australia’s Kery McMaster led throughout the women’s 400 IM, but she had to hold off a monster back half from Plesanton Seahawks’ Celina Le to take the win. McMaster clocked 4:39.37 for top honors, while Li came in just behind at 4:39.47. Aggie’s Sarah Henry came in third at 4:40.85.
Longhorn Aquatics set a new meet record in winning the 800 free relay. Quinn Carrozza, 16,, split a monster 1:58.43 on the second leg, as she and teammates Sarah Denninghoff, Alexandra Hooper, and Samantha Tucker clocked a time of 8:00.84 for the victory. Australia placed second in 8:04.40, also under Athens Bulldogs’ old meet record of 8:07.22 from 2006, while Indiana University finished third in 8:07.24. Bobby Bollier, Thomas Stephens, David Nolan, and Christopher Pickard combined to win the 800 free relay for Stanford in 7:24.26. Stanford’s “B” team took second in 7:26.22, while Nofio Cymru grabbed third in 7:26.38.