2015 AT&T Winter National Championships Day 1 Prelims Recap

Brenton Tse Photography
Photo Courtesy: Brenton Tse

The 2015 AT&T Winter National Championships are under way. The meet will take place from Dec. 3 through Dec. 5 in Federal Way, Washington. Big names highlight the heat sheets, which should lead to some great races over the course of the weekend.

Women’s 400 free
Veteran women dominated the women’s 400 free in Federal Way; Badger Swim Club’s Lindsay Vrooman led the way in 4:08.68. Vrooman swam a very relaxed first 300, then caught NBAC’s Allison Schmitt in the last 100. Schmitt held on for the second seed in 4:09.20, while Gillian Ryan of Michigan followed closely behind in 4:09.45.

Schmitt had the fastest split at the 200 in 2:02.73, showing some great initial speed. She cruised to 31.5 splits the whole middle of her race, and will definitely have some energy left to go after the win in tonight’s final.

Trojan Swim Club’s Haley Anderson took the fourth spot (4:10.12), swimming similarly to Schmitt. This open water star is definitely one to watch out for in the final. Anderson was followed by Sarah Henry (4:10.32), Elizabeth Beisel (4:11.02), Cierra Runge (4:11.71) and Kennedy Goss (4:13.59).

A 4:07.00 will crack top 20 in the world this year, while a 4:05.75 would be needed to make the top 10. USA’s Katie Ledecky and Leah Smith are first and sixth, respectively, and are the only American women currently in the top 20.

Men’s 400 free
Conor Dwyer set the pace once again in the men’s 400 free. He lead the race from start to finish, going out in a 1:53.62 at the 200. Michael McBroom (3:51.46) and Ryan Feeley (3:51.80) weren’t far behind. Feeley went out hard, while McBroom had more relaxed approach at the start.

Dwyer is currently sitting 20th in the world this year with his 3:47.53 from the Charlotte Pro Swim Series. McBroom is 16th in 3:46.69 from the World Championships. It is likely that these two will dominate the field in the final, but who stands where on the podium is up for grabs.

Anton Oerskov Ipsen (3:52.25), Jordan Harrison (3:52.30), Ryan Cochrane (3:52.55), True Sweetser (3:52.77) and Takeshi Matsuda (3:53.54) could all be in the mix as well. All of these men were out in 1:55, so we can expect a tight race from start to finish throughout this heat in tonight’s final.

Women’s 200 IM
The usual leaders of women’s individual medleys were at it again in the 200 distance in Federal Way. California placed three women in the A final including top-seeded Caitlin Leverenz (2:13.30), Celina Li (3rd-2:13.94) and Kathleen Baker (6th-2:14.24). Maya Dirado finished between the Leverenz and Li in 2:13.78, with a huge 31.87 backstroke split. This was the fastest backstroke by over a second and a half. As usual, Leverenz had a solid 39.21 breaststroke split to give her the edge on the field.

The fastest breaststroker in the top 8, however, was Sarah Henry. Her 2:14.17 included a 38.66 third leg. She is not far off the leaders at all, and will definitely be racing for a spot on the podium tonight.

Rounding out the A final tonight will be Siobhan Haughey (2:14.04), Erika Seltenreich-Hodgson (2:14.33), and Stina Gardell (2:14.50).

Men’s 200 IM
Wiscnosin Aquatics’ Michael Weiss dominated the prelim session of the men’s 200 IM. He out-split the field in everything except the breaststroke leg, and finishing in 1:58.97. He was the only swimmer to break the 2:00 barrier. This time also places him tied for 26th in the world this year with Chad le Clos of South Africa. If he is two-tenths faster or more tonight, he will crack the world’s top 20.

Second-seeded Chase Kaliscz had the edge in the breaststroke, surging him ahead of Michael Phelps in heat 10. His time of 2:00.09 is just off his 1:59.40 from the Moscow World Cup, setting him up nicely to have a year’s-best swim in the final.

Coming in third was Eduardo Solaeche (2:00.62) followed by Michael Phelps in 2:00.75. David Nolan was not far behind in 2:00.94. Look out for these three swimmers to challenge the top two. Phelps will be looking to defend his top spot in the world so far this year (1:54.75). He was only 1:59.63 in prelims before going that swim, so you never know what Phelps plans on achieving in the final.

Uvis Kalnins (2:01.06), Patrick Mulcare (2:01.58) and Dan Wallace (2:02.18) will also be competing in the A final.

Women’s 50 free
The 50 freestyle was another golden event for California; they placed three more swimmers in the A final. Abbey Weitzeil led the team with a 25.01, while Natalie Coughlin (25.40) and Farida Osman (25.43) placed 5th and 6th.

These women will look to break the 25-second barrier tonight, but Weitzeil’s swim did bump her up from 37th to 31st in the world rankings. She will need to be under 24.97 to be in the top 30.

Simone Manuel claimed the second position finishing in 25.08, just behind Weitzeil. She was followed by Ivy Martin (25.29) of Wisconsin and Liz Li of Ohio State (25.31). Sprint veterans Amanda Weir (25.46) and Margo Geer (25.52) will also be competing in tonight’s final.

Men’s 50 free
The men’s 50 free didn’t provide any particularly fast swims, but it will be interesting to see who gets their hand on the wall first in the final, as well as how many swimmers can break the 22-second mark.

Josh Schneider topped the field in 22.23 seconds, followed closely by Brad Tandy and Nathan Adrian who tied for second in 22.29. Adrian’s 21.37 from World Championships is currently second in the world.

Paul Powers (22.37), Geoff Cheah (22.39) Matt Grevers (22.43), Cullen Jones (22.49) and Santo Condorelli (22.51) will also be racing in this sprint battle. With only .28 seconds separating the first and eighth place qualifier, anything can happen in this exciting match-up.

Scheduled events:
Women’s 400 free
Men’s 400 free
Women’s 200 IM
Men’s 200 IM
Women’s 50 fre
Men’s 50 free