US World Champs Trials, Day 5 Prelims: Coughlin, Peirsol, Soni and Hansen Qualify First for Tonight (Prelim Results Attached)

By Phillip Whitten
Photos by Peter Bick

INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana, April 5. PRELIMS this morning went largely according to form on this fifth day of the US World Championship Trials, with most of the favorites making the top eight. But the meet remained generally slow and the atmosphere at the IUPUI Natatorium continued to lack the explosive energy of recent high-profile meets.

Also detracting from the excitement was Michael Phelps’ decision, announced last night, to rest after swimming — and winning – five events.

Here’s how it went this morning:

Women’s 100-meter freestyle
Natalie Coughlin clocked the morning’s fastest time in the 100m free, 55.45, as it took 56.12 to make top eight. The biggest surprise was University of Arizona freshman lacey Nymeyer, whose heat-winning 55.71 was second fastest. Another newcomer, Cal freshman Emily Silver, also cracked the top eight with her 56.09, good for sixth.

Amanda Weir and Kara Lynn Joyce, University of Georgia teammates, qualified second and third at 55.74 and 55.90, respectively. Rounding out the finalists are Sarah Wanezek (fifth, 56.08); Mary Descenza (seventh, 56.11) and Dana Vollmer (eighth, 56.12).

Among the prominent non-qualifiers: Katie Hoff, ninth, 56.31; Kaitlin Sandeno, 10th, 56.34; Maritza Correia, 15th, 56.67; Tanica Jamison, 17th, 56.78; and Rhi Jeffrey, 18th, 56.88

Men’s 200-meter backstroke
The men’s 200 back shaped up as a two-man struggle pitting WR-holder Aaron Peirsol and Ryan Lochte, who recently sliced a second off Peirsol’s record for 200 yards. The two dorsal aces swam next to each other in the final heat.

After Lochte took the lead at the start, Peirsol was in control the entire way, turning first at the 50 in 27.38 seconds and tacking on about half a second to his lead each lap. At the wall, it was Peirsol in 1:57.61 with Lochte, also looking relaxed, touching in 1:59.64, a PR. Athens Olympian Bryce Hunt was third in 2:01.99. It took 2:03.49 to final.

Women’s 200-meter breaststroke
The women’s 200 breast has the makings of a real battle tonight, with five women fighting for the top two spots.

The big surprise this morning was Scarlet AC’s Rebecca Soni, who recorded the top prelim time of 2:28.43. The next four fastest qualifiers are all Olympians: Tara Kirk (2:29.22), Megan Quann Jendrick (2:29.73), Kristen Caverly (2:29.80) and Caroline Bruce (2:31.66). Bruce, the 2005 NCAA champion in this event, swam well within herself, appearing only to make the cut for the A final. It took 2:33.26 to make that final.

Men’s 200-meter breaststroke
The men’s 200 breast has an entirely different complexion than the women’s race. World record-holder Brendan Hansen qualified first this morning by over four seconds. in an oh-so-easy 2:13.02. It’s hard to imagine who could beat Hansen tonight – or even challenge him, especially since Ed Moses did not enter the event.

The real battle should be for second, and that should be a doozy as only 1.02 seconds separate the seven men comprising the rest of the field. Sixteen year-old John Criste, of the Canyons AC in California, was second fastest at 2:17.28 but he will be pressed by Scott Spann (2:17.56), Mark Gangloff (2:18.16), Kevin Swander (2:18.30) and 2004 Olympian in this event, Scott Usher (eighth in 2:18.30), among others. Gangloff and Usher should be the top contenders for the #2 spot.

Aaron Peirsol qualifies first in 200 Back.

Brendan Hansen qualifies first in 200 Breastroke.

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