By John Lohn
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind., March 31. WITH the World Championship Trials scheduled to begin tomorrow, one of the major focuses will be the exploits of Kate Ziegler, the latest teen sensation from the United States. On a short-course tear over the past few months, Ziegler should steal the long-course show in the distance events. Here’s a glimpse at the women’s freestyle events.
A Georgia influence should be heavily present in the one-lap sprint, as Kara Lynn Joyce and Maritza Correia are the top guns. Joyce is coming off a sprint-free double at the NCAA Championships earlier this month, where her Bulldogs rolled to the team title. As for Correia, the Georgia grad is considered one of America’s premier performers in the event.
Another Georgia standout, Amanda Weir, has the fourth seed for the event and capped her freshman season with a strong NCAA competition. The Georgia trio can also expect a challenge from Sarah Wanezek, who holds the third seed in the 50 free and was fifth at last summer’s Olympic Trials.
There’s a chance the two-lap free will supply another tremendous finish between Kara Lynn Joyce and Natalie Coughlin, which is what occurred at the Olympic Trials last summer. The American representatives in Athens in the 100 free, Coughlin walked away with a bronze medal while Joyce touched the wall for fifth.
Like the 50 free, Maritza Correia and Amanda Weir should be players in the outcome, along with Dana Vollmer and Rhi Jeffrey. At the American Short Course Championships earlier this month, Jeffrey had some solid midseason times. Tanica Jamison is another athlete who is capable of making noise.
If the stars align properly, the 200 free could be one of the finest races at the World Trials, as all four members of the United States world-record setting 800 free relay are entered in the event – Natalie Coughlin, Carly Piper, Dana Vollmer and Kaitlin Sandeno.
While the event is filled with talent, a Coughlin-Sandeno duel to the wall is a real possibility and could feature a sizzling time. Don’t discount the presence of Rhi Jeffrey and Rachel Komisarz. An Olympian in the 100 fly, Komisarz has entered the 200, 400 and 800 freestyles.
Provided she swims the way she has in recent months, Kate Ziegler could uncork an eye-popping performance and begin the march toward a glorious summer in Montreal. Before that scenario becomes reality, however, Ziegler must deal with the likes of Kaitlin Sandeno and Kalyn Keller, Olympians in the event.
Hayley Peirsol and Alyssa Kiel will also be in the picture, as will Rachel Komisarz and Carly Piper. Two weeks ago, Kiel had a splendid showing at the Cleveland stop on the Speedo Championship Series.
Similar to the 400 free, the two distance freestyles will be headlined by Kate Ziegler and Kalyn Keller. Ziegler is the American short-course record-holder in the 800 free and Keller was an Olympian in the 400 and 800 freestyles and placed fourth in Athens in the 800 distance.
The longer the race, the better Hayley Peirsol performs. As a result, Peirsol should make a push for a Montreal bid in the 800 and 1,500. Stephanie Carr is another to watch in the 1,500, where she’s seeded third.