INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana, June 26. OLYMPIC star Missy Franklin set up a monster double tonight, and could end the night with three national titles after this morning of prelims at the U.S. Nationals and World Championship Trials.
Women's 200 free
FINA A Cut: 1:58.74
Missy Franklin, who chopped down the meet record in the 100 free last night en route to victory, put herself in line for a second national title this evening by leading the 200-meter freestyle qualifying.
Franklin, who stands eighth in the world this year with a 1:56.96 from the Mesa stop of the Arena Grand Prix, clocked a 1:57.60 to top all qualifiers. Based on her time last night in the shorter distance event, she definitely has enough in the tank to pull off a special time tonight that could rival the world-leading 1:55.48 from Camille Muffat of France.
Athens Bulldog Shannon Vreeland, meanwhile, grabbed the second seed with a time of 1:58.45. That time is less than a second off her lifetime best of 1:57.78 from last summer's Olympic Trials as she attempts to add another event to her Barcelona slate after taking second in the 100 free to Franklin last night.
NCAP's Katie Ledecky, who cruised to victory in the women's 800-meter freestyle, demonstrated her shorter-distance speed by qualifying third with a 1:58.53. She's ranked seventh in the world this year with a 1:56.93 from the Mesa stop of the Arena Grand Prix. On top of distance duty, she's likely in line for at least relay duty in the 800-meter freestyle relay depending on her performance this evening.
Longhorn's Karlee Bispo nearly posted a lifetime best to qualify fourth with a time of 1:59.30. That swim just missed her 1:59.03 from the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials. Athens Bulldog Jordan Mattern (1:59.35), Longhorn's Quinn Carrozza (1:59.47), Stanford's Maya Dirado (1:59.53) and Terrapins' Chelsea Chenault (1:59.75) rounded out the rest of the championship field.
In the most surprising outcome of the heats, American-record holder and defending champ Allison Schmitt missed the championship finale with a10th-place time of 1:59.78, just .03 seconds out of the top eight. That's a huge blow for Team USA individually and in terms of relay duty heading into Barcelona.
Men's 200 free
FINA A Cut: 1:48.42
Olympian Conor Dwyer, currently training at North Baltimore alongside Yannick Agnel, nearly bested his personal record during prelims with a strong time of 1:46.85. That swim is just outside his top ever of 1:46.64 to make the 2012 Olympic squad last summer at Trials, and is nearly within the top 10 in the world currently anchored by Alex Sukhorukov's 1:46.66 from Russian Nationals.
IX3's Charlie Houchin snatched the second seed in what is a veteran-laden finale, with the youngest swimmer coming in at 21 years of age. Houchin posted a 1:47.55, while Virginia's Matt McLean turned in a third-seeded time of 1:47.68. That's Houchin's second best time ever, behind only his 1:46.88 from 2012 Trials. McLean has a 1:46.78 from Trials to his credit as well, and could be holding back a bit this morning.
Michigan's Connor Jaeger, the undisputed distance king of the United States right now, also demonstrated his potential for an 800-meter free relay spot by qualifying fourth in 1:48.02. That's a personal best by more than a second, beating his 1:49.14 from the Santa Clara stop of the Arena Grand Prix earlier this year.
Ryan Lochte, still bouncing back from his reality television gig, qualified fifth in 1:48.04, and will be looking to secure another relay spot heading into Barcelona. Michigan's Michael Wynalda (1:48.09), Club Wolverine's Michael Klueh (1:48.20) and Longhorn's Ricky Berens (1:48.44) also earned their way into the championship heat.
Women's 200 breast
FINA A Cut: 2:27.88
Last night, one of the big voids in U.S. swimming began to be filled as Tom Luchsinger won the 200-meter fly as the Greatest of All Time Michael Phelps has retired from the sport. Today, another gigantic hole began to be filled as world-record holder Rebecca Soni has elected to take the year off from the sport after her epic run at the 2012 Olympic Games.
Breeja Larson of Aggie Swim Club demonstrated she is ready to take over the breaststroke leadership role with a blistering 2:24.80 this morning. That swim ties her for sixth in the world rankings, as Satomi Suzuki also posted that time at Japanese Nationals in Niigata earlier this year. Larson, an Olympic gold medalist, definitely has what it takes to do well in Barcelona, considering she just whacked two seconds off her lifetime best of 2:26.95 from last summer's Trials.
BlueFish's Laura Sogar, another breaststroke revelation this year with her NCAA title victory for the Texas Longhorns in March here at the IU Natatorium, checked in with a second-place time of 2:26.00, while Santa Barbara's Katy Freeman raced to the third seed in 2:27.19.
SwimMAC's Micah Lawrence (2:27.29), NBAC's Annie Zhu (2:27.93), California's Caitlin Leverenz (2:29.08), Tennessee's Molly Hannis (2:29.16) and Trojan's Andrew Kropp (2:29.18) also made the championship eight.
Men's 200 breast
FINA A Cut: 2:12.78
In the same pool where he torched the short course yard American records at NCAAs in March, Arizona's Kevin Cordes popped a monster time of 2:09.18 to lead the 200-meter breaststroke qualifying this morning.
Cordes' time shot him to third in the world behind only Vyacheslav Sinkevich (2:08.62) and Christian vom Lehn (2:08.81), and he's not done yet. Amazingly, Cordes chopped more than a second from his lifetime best of 2:10.92 from last summer's U.S. Open, and could definitely make a run at the world (2:07.01/Akihiro Yamaguchi) and American (2:07.42/Eric Shanteau) records this evening.
Just a few months ago, Cordes stunned the world with some astonishing breaststroke times while representing the Arizona Wildcats. He took down the American records in the 100-yard breast (50.74) and 200-yard breast (1:48.68) as well as posted some of the sickest relay splits ever seen. To say the least, Cordes is comfortable here at the IU Natatorium.
Athens Bulldog Nic Fink qualified second in 2:10.12, vaulting to fifth in the world in what could be an overlooked swim considering the greatness of Cordes. Fink had an age-group like time drop, smashing his lifetime best of 2:13.89 from last summer's Trials in Omaha.
PASA's BJ Johnson checked in with a third-place time of 2:11.85, while California's Josh Prenot qualified fourth in 2:12.21.
Tucson Ford's Clark Burckle (2:12.57), Indiana's Cody Miller (2:13.14), Peoria's Matt Elliott (2:13.91) and Trojan's Mike Alexandrov (2:13.95). It's been an interesting year for Miller after he made headlines last summer at Trials in the 200-meter breaststroke when he had a suit split slow him down. Officials allowed him to make a quick suit change before swimming in the semifinal. It's not uncommon for the Hoosier, as he also competed in the 2012 Big Ten Champs with a similar suit malfunction.
Women's 200 back
FINA A Cut: 2:11.09
World-record holder Missy Franklin put up what proved to be a wake-up swim for her, but is the world best for the rest of the planet in the 200-meter backstroke. After topping qualifying in the 200 free earlier this morning, Franklin had an easy speed swim in the distance dorsal with a scintillating 2:06.33.
Franklin's swim this morning is the first under 2:07 this year, crushing Belinda Hocking's previously top-ranked performance of 2:07.17 from Aussie Nationals earlier this year. Franklin had already stood second with an in-season 2:07.31 at the Austin stop of the Arena Grand Prix, and tonight could produce a scary time. Margaret Hoelzer's U.S. Open and meet record of 2:06.09 from 2008 is in serious jeopardy.
Bluefish's Elizabeth Beisel blazed her way to a 2:08.44 to qualify second in the event and vault to sixth in the world rankings, while Franklin's future California teammate Elizabeth Pelton clocked in at a 2:09.10 to earn third and eighth in the world rankings. That gives Team USA three of the top 10 swimmers in the world, a feat no other country can claim. Australia is the closest with second and third from Hocking and Meagan Nay (2:07.96).
North Coast's Kendyl Stewart (2:10.22), SwimMAC's Kathleen Baker (2:10.23), Dynamo's Kylie Stewart (2:11.46), AquaKids' Clara Smiddy (2;11.53) and Tucson Ford's Sarah Denninghoff (2:11.76) all cleared 2:12 to make the finale.
Men's 200 back
FINA A Cut: 1:58.48
Olympic gold medalist Tyler Clary surged to eighth in the world rankings with his top-seeded time this morning in prelims. Clary had his breakthrough moment in this event last summer after years toiling in Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte's shadows in the IMs. Clary made the Olympic squad last year, then raced his way to the Olympic gold medal in the event.
Clary, however, has been focusing on an auto-racing career since 2012 with some spot swims here and there. So, it will be interesting to see what he can produce this summer in Barcelona. This morning, he posted a time of 1:57.00 to become the top American this year, edging Lochte's 1:57.51 from the Santa Clara stop of the Arena Grand Prix.
Machine's Jack Conger turned in a swift 1:57.51 to match Lochte's time from Santa Clara and move to ninth in the world. That's just half-a-second off Conger's personal best of 1:57.20 from the 2012 Junior Pan Pacific Championships.
Another youngster, Bolles' Ryan Murphy, who at just 17 nearly cracked his personal best with a third-seeded 1:57.55 to move just outside the top 10 in the world. Both Conger and Murphy could make a run at Aaron Peirsol's 17-18 U.S. National Age Group record of 1:55.15 from 2002 this evening.
California's Jacob Pebley (1:57.97), Wisconsin's Andrew teDuits (1:58.38), Lochte (1:58.73), Sarasota Y's Alex Katz (1:58.95) and Tennessee's Sean Lehane (1:59.58) also made the championship eight.
Women's 50 fly
FINA A Cut: 26.83
This morning began a new era in U.S. Trials qualifying as Team USA has finally introduced the stroke 50s as their own separate qualifying events. Typically, the U.S. has ignored these non-Olympic events even in World Championship years and let the 100-meter winners choose to swim them at Worlds, but with rumors swirling of the 50s potentially becoming Olympic events, USA Swimming has chosen to get ahead in terms of qualifying.
North Coast's Kendyl Stewart nearly cracked the top 10 in the world with a leading time of 26.26. She's just outside the 26.20 by Lu Ying of China that anchors the top 10 rankings. Olympian Claire Donahue is not far behind with a second-seeded time of 26.31, while another Olympian in Christine Magnuson of Tucson Ford qualified third in 26.32. All three swimmers are capable of big times this evening.
Stanford's Felicia Lee (26.94), Auburn's Olivia Scott (26.94), NCAP's Janet Hu (26.98), Golden West's Cindy Tran (27.06) and Midland's Natalie Hinds (27.08) also made the finale.
Men's 50 fly
FINA A Cut: 23.96
It's a good thing Tucson Ford's Matt Grevers recognized that he needed a 100-meter fly cut to compete in the 50-meter fly a few weeks ago. He put up a World Championship Trials cut just two weeks ago in the 100-meter fly prelims at the Phoenix Swim Club Summer Invitational to guarantee himself a spot in the 50 fly heats.
The choice has worked out so far this morning after he nearly made the top 10 in the world in the sprint fly with a 23.47. SwimMAC's Tim Phillips qualified second in the event with a time of 23.65, while NYAC's Tyler McGill, a sprint fly specialist, qualified third in 23.83.
SwimMAC's Cullen Jones, who had a disappointing 100 free yesterday, made the A final in the sprint fly with a fourth-seeded time of 23.86, while Stanford's Eugene Godsoe touched fifth in 23.92.
Tucson Ford's Giles Smith (23.99), SwimMAC's Matthew Josa (24.12) and Crimson's Wyatt Ubellacker (24.15) will also vie for the championship title this evening.