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By David Rieder
IRVINE, California, August 5. THE Speedo Junior Nationals started off with a bang, as two teenagers posted blistering swims in the women’s and men’s 200 fly events, both posting times that will be competitive on the national stage. In addition, two meet records fell on the first of five evenings of action at the William Woollett Aquatic Center in Irvine.
Women’s 200 Fly
Mission Viejo’s Katie McLaughlin cruised to victory in the women’s 200 fly. The 16 year old finished third in the event at U.S. Nationals in June, clocking 2:10.41 in that race, and she improved upon her time in Irvine, clocking 2:09.68. The time moves the teenager to 25th in the world rankings and third among Americans; only Cammile Adams (2:06.75) and Maya Dirado (2:08.28) have swum faster. McLaughlin definitely has an opportunity to make an impact for the United States in this event, one of the weakest for the American team; no American has won a medal at a World Championships since Kim Vandenberg’s silver in 2007.
Sandpipers’ Olivia Barker finished second in the final, clocking 2:10.75. Barker held off a late charge from Flint Y’s Courtney Weaver, who settled for third in 2:10.95. Meanwhile Palo Alto’s Ally Howe took the B-final in 2:12.47, while Bellevue’s Kathryn Kinnear touched the wall first in the C-final, clocking 2:13.33.
Men’s 200 Fly
Nation’s Capital’s Andrew Seliskar posted a monster effort to win the men’s 200 fly. Seliskar trailed Terrapins’ Justin Lynch at the halfway mark of the A-final, but he caught up to Lynch on the third 50 and pulled away down the stretch. With no 50 split slower than 30.17, Seliskar won the race in 1:56.54. That broke Kyle Whitaker’s meet record of 1:56.95 set in 2009. Moreover, the time jetted Seliskar up to 21st in the world rankings, and only two Americans — Tom Luchsinger (1:55.57) and Tyler Clary (1:55.97) have swum faster. Seliskar’s swim tonight would have beaten out Clary for a spot on the World Championships team at June’s National Championships.
Lynch ended up settling for second in 1:57.80, while Fresno Dolphins’ Justin Wright used a strong final 50 surge to touch out Aquazot’s Corey Okubo for third, 1:58.21 to 1:58.28. Dynamo’s Mick Litherland, meanwhile, almost got under the elusive 2:00 barrier, finishing at 2:00.00. In both consolation finals, the winner used blazing final 50s to earn victory. Mission Viejo’s Grant Shoults scorched the men’s heat for victory in the B-final in 2:01.35, while Duke Aquatics’ Koya Osada used a similar tactic in the C-final to take the win in 2:02.30.
Women’s 200 Breast
SwimMAC Carolina’s Maija Roses took the victory in the women’s 200 breast. She took over the lead just before the halfway mark, and she held Lubbock’s Madisyn Cox at bay for the second 100 as the two battled it out from lanes four and five, respectively. Roses clocked 2:31.77 for top honors, while Cox grabbed second in 2:32.09. Ozaukee’s Katherine Drabot provided some outside smoke from lane one, swimming with the top two for much of the race before settling for third in 2:32.58.
The consolation final saw South Bend’s Bethany Galat earn the win 2:34.11 after the disqualification of Bellevue’s Kimberly Williams. Williams had touched out Galat after a tight race between the two for the duration of the 200. Sarasota Y’s Sophie Cattermole picked up the win in the C-final with a time of 2:35.04.
Men’s 200 Breast
Jersey Wahoos’ Andrew Schuehler held a slight lead over Dynamo’s Gunnar Bentz through the 100 and 150 marks of the men’s 200 breast, but Bentz blasted the final 50, splitting 33.70 on the way home. He touched in 2:12.88, crushing Christian Higgins’ meet record of 2:14.35 set in 2010 while representing Wilton Y. Schuehler also got under the old mark, touching in 2:14.03. Loveland’s Nicolas Hatanaka also finished strong, touching third in 2:15.82.
Meanwhile, Donner’s Cody Taylor dominated the B-final on his way to victory in 2:16.12. Brea’s Derek Kao ran down Greater Omaha’s Jacob Molacek to win the C-final in 2:18.32, while Molacek finished second in 2:18.99.
Women’s 800 Free
Clearwater’s Becca Mann cruised to victory in the women’s 800, leading the final heat for the entire race and clocking 8:36.72 to take the top spot. Sarasota Y’s Danielle Valley closed the gap on Mann after taking over the second spot midway through the race, but she wouldn’t get any closer. The freshman-to-be at the University of Florida clocked 8:38.03 for second, while The Fish’s Isabelle Rongione touched third. Rongione, just 13, clocked 8:39.08 to edge Lakeside’s Leah Stevens, who came in at 8:39.32.
In the timed finals event, York YMCA’s Courtney Hart finished fifth in 8:40.69, while Germantown’s Sierra Schmidt took sixth (8:40.78). Sandpipers’ Erin Emery (8:43.38) and Denver Hilltoppers’ Lauren Abruzzo (8:45.09), both swimming out of the early heats, completed the top eight.
Men’s 1500 Free
North Texas’ Jonathan Roberts put on a show in the men’s 1500. Swimming in lane eight of the fastest heat, Roberts obliterated his competition from the beginning, leading the heat by more than five seconds for the majority of the race before touching in 15:24.82 for the victory. Roberts challenged Jordan Wilimovsky’s meet record of 15:23.01 from last year but fell short of the mark over the last 400 meters. Mission Viejo’s Nicholas Norman came on strong over the final third of the race to touch second in 15:31.41, while Dynamo’s Kevin Litherland held on for third, clocking 15:35.07.
Davis’ Christopher Wieser (15:36.26), Santa Clara’s Aidan Burns (15:38.18), Crimson’s Liam Egan (15:39.04), Arkansas Dolphins’ Minki Kang (15:40.02), and Team Santa Monica’s Scott Simmer (15:40.18) all finished among the top eight.