AUSTIN, Texas, November 29. THE USC women's 200 free relay and Olympic gold medalist Nathan Adrian provided meet-record bookends to the first day of prelims at the U.S. Winter Short Course Nationals in Austin this morning.
Women's 200 free relay
The University of Southern California smoked the preliminary heats with a meet-record time of 1:29.21. That performance bettered the 1:29.57 set by USC back in 2010 in Columbus, and cleared the NCAA A cut in the event. Meanwhile, Kasey Carlson cleared the NCAA A cut in the 50 free with a 21.91 to become the first sub 22-second swimmer in the NCAA this year. Carlson (21.91), Jasmine Tosky (22.23), Katarzyna Wilk (22.37) and Lindsay Parrish (22.70) put together the win for the Trojans.
Arizona's Kaitlyn Flederbach (22.76), Margo Geer (21.72), Megan Lafferty (22.14) and Grace Finnegan (22.76) placed second in 1:29.38 to join USC under the NCAA A cut for the relay, while Texas' Kelsey Amundsen (22.73), Ellen Lobb (22.50), Gretchen Jaques (22.27) and Bethany Adams (22.36) just missed the A cut in the morning with a 1:29.86.
Arizona B (1:31.69), USC B (1:32.21), UCLA (1:32.41), Indiana (1:32.56) and TCU (1:33.53) also made the championship final this evening.
Men's 200 free relay
Texas' B squad of Ben Anderson (20.32), John Murray (19.88), Dax Hill (19.37) and Austin Surhoff (19.33) lit up the morning heats with a swift time of 1:18.90, while Arizona's Giles Smith (19.99), Mitchell Friedemann (19.33), Nimrod Shapira Bar-Or (20.36) and Nicholas Popov (19.83) took second in 1:19.51. Smith was the only leadoff to clear 20 seconds, and joined just a handful of other swimmers to already have turned in a 19-second swim in the NCAA. Louisville's Joao De Lucca has the best time in the nation with a 19.81.
Texas A team of Charles Moore (20.28), Madison Wenzler (19.76), Kerrington Hill (19.84) and Caleb Weir (19.94) picked up third-place honors out of prelims with a 1:19.82. Arizona B (1:20.49), USC A (1:20.80), Michigan State (1:21.73), USC B (1:21.90) and Cleveland State (1:22.00) also earned transfer spots into the A final.
Women's 500 free
Olympic gold medalist Katie Ledecky of Nation's Capital Aquatics turned in a swift preliminary time of 4:36.82, just a second-and-a-half off her lifetime best of 4:35.14 from the 2011 National Age Group Team Challenge event last November. Tonight will tell the tale whether she's going to make a run at times such at Katie Hoff's American record of 4:30.47 or Dagny Knutson's meet standard of 4:31.18. She also has a shot at Hoff's 15-16 U.S. National Age Group record of 4:34.21 from 2006.
JCC Sailfish Leah Smith, fresh off the U.S. Junior National Team fall travels, claimed second in 4:37.79, chopping two seconds off her personal best of 4:39.96 from her high school state championships last year. Olympic silver medalist Haley Anderson of USC clinched third with a 4:41.87, while Trojan teammate Jasmine Tosky took fourth in 4:42.88.
Texas' Kelsey Leneave (4:42.88) and Kaitlin Pawlowicz (4:42.90) qualified fifth and sixth, while Minnesota's Ashley Steenvoorden (4:43.08) earned the seventh seed. Indiana's Lindsay Vrooman snuck into the top eight with a 4:43.38.
Notably, NCAP's Megan Byrnes, 14, crushed her lifetime best of 4:56.52 from the 2011 Tom Dolan Invitational with a sizzling 4:45.26 out of heat one to qualify 10th. That swim pushed her to sixth all time for 14-and-unders in the event. Katie Ledecky (4:35.14), Becca Mann (4:40.15), Missy Franklin (4:42.00), Mary Beck (4:44.57) and Bonnie Brandon (4:44.78) are the only swimmers in that age range faster than her.
Megan Byrnes' previous lifetime best as seen on SwimmingWorld.TV
— Megan Byrnes(@meganbyrness) November 29, 2012
Men's 500 free
Arizona's Matt Barber dominated the preliminary heats with a sterling time of 4:17.21 to better Michael Flach's 4:18.38 for the top time in the NCAA this year, and falling just short of his lifetime best of 4:16.55 also clocked in Austin at the Texas Invitational last December. Dymamo's Evan Pinion, a Tennessee commitment, checked in with a second-seeded time of 4:18.72, while Texas' Michael McBroom touched third in 4:19.69.
USC's Cristian Quintero (4:20.39) and DSA's Clark Smith (4:20.39) tied for fourth with matching times, while Trojan's Nikita Lobintsev (4:22.35), USC's Nicholaus Johnson (4:22.53) and AGUA's Michael Domagala (4:23.17) picked up the rest of the championship finale spots for this evening.
Women's 200 IM
USC put five swimmers into the A final with Meghan Hawthorne (1:56.21) and Jasmine Tosky (1:56.43) taking 1-2 with Stina Gardell (1:56.86), Andrea Kropp (1:57.20) and Jessica Schmitt (1:58.28) also making the championship heat. Hawthorne's time pushed her to the top of the NCAA this year, clipping Texas A&M's Sarah Henry who turned in a 1:56.22 two weeks ago. Olympic all-star Missy Franklin wound up qualifying sixth with a 1:57.32. Celina Li (1:56.59) and Anna Senko (1:58.07) also earned shots at the national title with their prelim swims.
Plymouth-Canton Cruisers' Miranda Tucker, 15, made a move into the national conscience with an amazing time drop. Heading into this meet, her best time had been a 2:06.16 from a Thanksgiving meet in Michigan two weeks ago. This morning, she crushed through the 2:00 barrier with a swift time of 1:59.92 to qualify 17th overall.
Men's 200 IM
Tucson Ford's Austen Thompson led the way in prelims with a time of 1:44.48, while Olympic superstar Ryan Lochte touched second overall in 1:44.52 as he cruised through prelims. Lochte had voiced his annoyance at the depth of the preliminary heats, tweeting out his desire to get his race over with and move on with the day.
I forgot how long a swim meet was until this morning. Can I race already.
— Ryan Lochte (@ryanlochte) November 29, 2012
USC's Alex Lendrum qualified third in 1:44.76, while Arizona's Miles Joye took fourth in 1:44.94 to round out the sub 1:45s for the morning. Dynamo's Gunnar Bentz took down the 15-16 U.S. National Age Group record with his blistering time of 1:45.17 to finish fifth overall. That effort bettered the 1:45.77 set by Ryan Murphy last year for Bolles.
Texas' Austin Surhoff earned sixth in 1:45.19, while NBAC's Chase Kalisz, currently working his way to get academically eligible to join Georgia in the spring, qualified seventh in 1:45.56. Murphy completed the championship field with an eighth-ranked 1:45.62.
Women's 50 free
Tucson Ford's Christine Magnuson demolished her lifetime best with a strong time of 21.86 out of heat three of eight. The two-time Olympic medalist previously has a best time of 22.03 in the event from her time as a Tennessee Lady Volunteer at the 2008 Southeastern Conference Championships. She hasn't focused much on short course swimming since graduating and moving to Tucson.
Arizona's Margo Geer turned in an NCAA A cut in the event with a 21.94 to win her heat, while Trojan's Jessica Hardy qualified third in 22.08 after making her decision to attend the event just this week. USC's Kasey Carlon, who already qualified for NCAAs with her sterling relay leadoff, qualified fourth individually in 22.12.
NCAP's Janet Hu (22.13), GTAC's Olivia Smoliga (22.13), Texas' Ellen Lobb (22.44) and T2's Erika Erndl (22.48) also made the finale, while Colorado Stars' Missy Franklin surprisingly missed the A final with a ninth-place 22.56. Look for her to put up a podium-worthy time during B finals this evening.
Hu's time is a 15-16 U.S. National Age Group record, beating the 22.17 set by Kristen Vredeveld last year.
Men's 50 free
Olympic gold medalist Nathan Adrian of California provided a meet-record bookend to the morning with a stunning time of 18.82 that had the crowd oohing and aahing. That time bettered the 18.95 set by Matt Grevers in Atlanta back in 2008. Adrian has the American record with a scintillating time of 18.66 from the 2011 NCAA Division I Championships, which puts him third all time in the event behind Cesar Cielo (18.47) and Matt Targett (18.52). Adrian could be hunting for some record-breaking times this evening.
Grevers managed to put up a solid time of 19.11, that had stood as the top seeded time from heat two of seven, before Adrian closed the curtains on day one prelims with his awe-inspiring sub-19 second performance. SwimFlorida's Pavel Babaev and Ryan Lochte tied for third with matching 19.51s.
Tennessee's Davis Tarwater qualified fifth in 19.52, while Tucson Ford's Adam Small picked up sixth in 19.63. Jakob Allen (19.74) and Garrett Weber-Gale (19.79) completed the championship finale field with their swims.