Vien Nguyen Surges at Indy Sectionals, Night 2

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

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On the second night of Speedo Sectionals in Indianapolis, Vien Nguyen left no doubt in anyone’s mind: she showed up to race. Nguyen started the night with a victory in the 200 freestyle, and–in a cathartic finish to Friday’s individual competition–also collected gold in the 400 individual medley. Other highlights of the night included the men’s relay squads from Carmel and a tight men’s 200 freestyle race.

The second day of the meet started off with a riveting 200 medley relay on the women’s side. Waves Bloomington Normal Y and Carmel Swim Club’s A relay remained neck-and-neck throughout the race. Waves Bloomington finished the first leg of the relay with a slight lead after a 29.29 backstroke leg from Grace Ariola, who just edged out Carmel’s Samantha Burchill (29.86). Noelle Peplowski held and expanded that lead with her solid 32.73 against Grace Estabrook (33.71) in the breaststroke leg. But when Gertrude Rothrock entered the water for Carmel, the tides of the race shifted. Rothrock pounded out a 27.66 in the fly and gained considerably on Waves’ Julia Heimstead, who swam a 28.08. After the third leg, Waves Bloomington still led the race by over a second. Kelly Pash took over for Rothrock, while Melissa Pish took over for Heimstead. Pash swam a blazing 25.54, but it wasn’t quite enough to touch out Pish and Waves Bloomington. Ultimately, Waves Bloomington came away with the victory in 1:56.66, while Carmel settled for runner-up in 1:56.77. Carmel’s B relay earned the third podium spot in 2:00.91.

The men’s race brought a less contested gold, but it once again resulted in two podium spots for Carmel. The Carmel A relay dominated the field. Wyatt Davis swam a scorching 26.30 backstroke leg that immediately established his squad as the team to beat. Stefano Batista lost some leverage against River Wright from Bluefish Swim Club, but when Carmel’s Drew Kibler hit the water for the butterfly, Carmel’s impending victory became unquestionable. Hunter Homans of Bluefish rallied in the fly but ultimately could not answer Kibler’s aggressive 24.23. Andrew Couchon, the anchor for Carmel, touched the wall at 1:45.09, while David Fitch, the anchor for Bluefish, failed to make up the gap but ultimately set up his team for second in 1:48.04. Carmel’s B relay squad was not far behind in 1:49.25, thanks in particular to a speedy 23.78 anchor leg by Charles Vaughan.

The women’s 200 freestyle saw a clash of race pacing strategies amidst the top three finishers. Melissa Pish of Waves Bloomington Normal YMCA took out her first fifty meters in 28.11 and rounded out the first 100 in a speedy 58.65. Carmel Swim Club’s Emma Nordin, the top seed from the morning, took a more conservative approach–1:00.09–in her first 100. Vien Nguyen, swimming unattached, swam a controlled but assertive 59.68. Ultimately, it was Nguyen’s approach that bore fruit; she took the gold in 2:00.51, just shy of the meet record. Pish managed to hold off Nordon with a 2:01.77, while Nordin found the bronze in 2:02.25.   

On the men’s side, Fynn Minuth and Michael Weiss commanded the field for the majority of the race, with Minuth flipping first at every wall. In the last 50 meters, the field charged, including Weiss. In a neck-and-neck final lap, Weiss blazed to a 1:50.19, just touching out Minuth, who faded for silver in 1:50.49. William Bressette of Empire KC nabbed third in 1:51.64, thanks to consistent pacing throughout the race.

The women’s 100 butterfly brought great expectations for Regan Smith of Riptide Aquatics, and her explosive underwaters did not disappoint. Smith popped a 1:00.21–a solid long course swim at this point in the season. Not far behind her, Grace Ariola of Waves Bloomington Normal, the runner-up from the 200 butterfly, also posted an impressive time of 1:01.04. Third place belonged to two different swimmers: Ariola’s teammate, fourteen-year-old Julia Heimstead of Waves Bloomington Normal, and Gertrude Rothrock of Carmel Swim Club. Both women hit a mark of 1:02.38.

The men’s butterfly also had a clear favorite. Janko Radmanovic, swimming unattached, led the entire race and claimed the gold in 54.26. Although Carmel’s Drew Kibler, who commanded the first night of competition, was seeded second for the butterfly (as well as the 200 freestyle), he scratched from both events for the evening. Radmanovic was followed by Paul Le, the 24-year-old representing Missouri State University, who hit the touchpad in 55.34. Only nine hundredths behind Le, 15-year-old River Wright of Bluefish Swim Club took the bronze.

In the 400 IM, Vien Nguyen collected her second gold of the night in 4:48.32. Nguyen handily defeated the rest of the field, while Carmel’s Kelly Pas also easily commanded the silver in 4:54.72. Lauren Edelman, swimming unattached, swept up the bronze in 4:56.92.

Within the men’s ranks, the 400 IM brought a surprising victory from Carmel’s Brett Sherman, in 4:32.77. Harrison Homans (4:34.26) from Bluefish Aquatic Club just edged out Michigan Lakeshore Aquatics’ Ian Miskelley (4:34.38), thanks to a gutsy final 100 meters.

The shock of the night came from the women’s 400 freestyle relay, in which Carmel Swim Club’s A relay squad won the race but was disqualified. As a result, the second-place Waves of Bloomington team–Noelle Peplowski, Julia Heimstead, Grace Ariola, and Melissa Pish–stepped up into the top spot on the podium with a final time of 3:52.17. Second place went to Carmel’s B relay team, in 3:56.13, while Northridge Area Swimming Association came away with the bronze in 3:59.20.

In the men’s race, Carmel Swim Club collected yet another gold, but this victory was noticeably slower due to the absent Drew Kibler. Nonetheless, Carmel won in 3:32.74. Nearly two seconds behind, Michigan Lakeshore Aquatics battled it out with Bluefish Swim Club for silver. David Fitch from Bluefish fought on the end, but his 100 was no match for that of Skyler Cook-Weeks, who pounded out an impressive 51.15 leg.

Results are available on Meet Mobile: 2017 Speedo Sectionals at Indianapolis.

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Author: Katie Wingert

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Katie Wingert is a senior at Messiah College, where she is majoring in English with a secondary teaching certification and minoring in French. Katie swims middle-distance freestyle and IM for the Falcons and serves as an assistant coach for the Annville-Cleona Otters. In 2017, Katie was named the NCAA Division III Elite 90 Award recipient for Women’s Swimming and Diving.

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