By guest writer Julia Wilkinson-Minks (2008 & 2012 Canadian Olympian)
MISSION VIEJO, California, June 9. THERE is nothing like a best time in-season to give you a great confidence boost right before taper. How about a national record? Maybe a time that is ranked top five in the world?
After this evening's performances at the TYR Fran Crippen Memorial Swim Meet of Champions, I think there are some swimmers who will be smiling themselves to sleep tonight in Mission Viejo.
Arguably the most impressive swim of the weekend came in the first “A” final of the evening: the women's 100-meter butterfly. 20-year old Katerine Savard from Quebec, Canada, broke the pool and meet records en route to winning in 57.40. That time also broke Savard's own Canadian record of 57.80, and now put her at number two in the world this year behind Alicia Coutts of Australia (57.18).
It would seem that Savard's take down of Olympic gold medalist Dana Vollmer last weekend was only the beginning of a very successful summer. Coming in behind Savard was fellow Canadian, 17-year old Noemie Thomas in 57.96. With this time, Thomas becomes only the second Canadian ever under the 58-second barrier.
1 Katerine Savard 20 C S Q 57.40
26.71 57.40 (30.69)
2 Noemie Thomas 17 U B C Dolphins 57.96
27.56 57.96 (30.40)
Tom Shields won his second butterfly race of the weekend, winning the 100-meter in 52.53. This time bested his meet record of 52.90, set last summer.
1 Tom Shields 21 CAL-PC 52.53
24.92 52.53 (27.61)
Hometown hero Chloe Sutton won her third and longest race of the weekend, touching first in the 1500-meter freestyle in a time of 16:14.71. Ashley Steenvooden kept pace with and put the pressure on Sutton during the race, but finished second in 16:16.79.
With this win, Sutton officially split the freestyle races at this meet evenly with Australian Brittany Elmslie: Elmslie won the 50, 100, and 200-meter freestyles, and Sutton took the 400, 800, and 1500-meter victories. Granted, I am sure that this distance queen would not consider that to be an “even” split.
1 Chloe Sutton 21 Mission Viejo-CA 16:14.71
30.50 1:03.04 (32.54)
1:35.64 (32.60) 2:08.29 (32.65)
2:41.16 (32.87) 3:13.87 (32.71)
3:46.51 (32.64) 4:19.16 (32.65)
4:52.00 (32.84) 5:24.80 (32.80)
5:57.34 (32.54) 6:30.15 (32.81)
7:02.57 (32.42) 7:34.98 (32.41)
8:07.29 (32.31) 8:39.60 (32.31)
9:11.92 (32.32) 9:44.29 (32.37)
10:16.61 (32.32) 10:49.15 (32.54)
11:21.65 (32.50) 11:54.02 (32.37)
12:26.44 (32.42) 12:59.06 (32.62)
13:31.75 (32.69) 14:04.58 (32.83)
14:37.57 (32.99) 15:10.41 (32.84)
15:43.27 (32.86) 16:14.71 (31.44)
In the women's 100-meter backstroke, Olympic silver medalist Emily Seebohm proved that she is not the only Australian that could improve on her performances from the Arena Grand Prix last weekend. Seebohm won handily in 1:00.05, a meet and pool record, and a time that is much more Seebohm-worthy than her fifth-place 1:01.73 in Santa Clara. Her time from this evening would have put her in third, a fingernail away from Missy Franklin's time of 1:00.02.
1 Emily Seebohm 21 Australia 1:00.05
29.12 1:00.05 (30.93)
Seebohm was not done with her California victory tour after her premier race. A few events later, she stepped up again for the women's 200-meter IM. Olympic bronze medalist Caitlin Leverenz led at the 150-meter mark, thanks to her world-class breaststroke, but Seebohm managed to run her down in the final strokes of freestyle. Seebohm finished the race in 2:12.74, almost four seconds faster than her 200-meter IM last weekend. Granted, this evening's event schedule was much kinder to the backstroke-IMers than the quick one-event turnaround in Santa Clara.
1 Emily Seebohm 21 Australia 2:12.74
29.33 1:02.96 (33.63)
1:41.79 (38.83) 2:12.74 (30.95)
2 Caitlin Leverenz 22 CAL-PC 2:12.86
28.75 1:03.86 (35.11)
1:41.57 (37.71) 2:12.86 (31.29)
Jacob Pebley added another win this evening, taking the 100-meter backstroke title in 55.94. Pebley won the 200-meter backstroke on Friday evening.
1 Jacob Pebley 19 CAL-PC 55.94
27.16 55.94 (28.78)
17-year old Mack Horton from Australia finally got to stand on the top of the podium, demolishing the competition in the men's 800-meter freestyle. Horton wasted no time putting open water between himself and the rest of the field; he finished five seconds ahead of second place, Jeremy Bagshaw, who touched the wall in 8:08.65.
1 Mack Horton 17 Australia 8:03.71
27.83 57.81 (29.98)
1:28.50 (30.69) 1:59.13 (30.63)
2:29.88 (30.75) 3:00.22 (30.34)
3:30.82 (30.60) 4:01.65 (30.83)
4:32.27 (30.62) 5:02.79 (30.52)
5:33.15 (30.36) 6:03.71 (30.56)
6:34.02 (30.31) 7:04.46 (30.44)
7:34.57 (30.11) 8:03.71 (29.14)
Not to be outdone by the impressive women who had swum earlier in finals, Yuliya Efimova finished this competition undefeated in the breaststroke races. She won the 200-meter breaststroke last night, and utilized this fitness to pull away from the field in the final 25 meters of tonight's race. Efimova's time of 1:07.24 may have fallen short of Jessica Hardy's meet record, but launched her into fifth place in the world this year.
In the men's 100-meter breaststroke, Azad Al-Barazi of the Trojan Swim Club won handily in a time of 1:02.50. Al-Barazi represented Syria at the 2012 Olympics last summer in London in this same event.
1 Azad Al-barazi 25 Trojan-CA 1:02.50 WCT
29.29 1:02.50 (33.21)
In the final race of the evening, Josh Prenot was challenged by former Texas A&M Aggie Nikita Denisyako. Prenot is the Cal school record holder in the 400-yard IM, and also won the 200-meter breaststroke earlier this weekend. It was no surprise that, although Denisyako had a comfortable two-second lead after the backstroke, Prenot used his strong breaststroke to power into first place at the 150-meter mark. Denisyako fought back on the freestyle leg, but in the end, the win went to Prenot in 2:02.48.
1 Josh Prenot 19 CAL-PC 2:02.48
26.94 58.30 (31.36)
1:33.21 (34.91) 2:02.48 (29.27)
2 Nikita Denisyak 25 Canyons-CA 2:03.02 WCT
25.72 56.34 (30.62)
1:33.17 (36.83) 2:03.02 (29.85)
Between Savard's blazing 100-meter butterfly, Seebohm's evening of redemption and Efimova's equally impressive breaststroke, it is fair to say that tonight's finals session was the best one yet. Clearly, for some swimmers, this meet was just as important, if not more, than the Arena Grand Prix last weekend.
Julia Wilkinson-Minks is a two-time Olympian for Canada and was a finalist in the 200-meter IM at the 2008 Beijing Games. In 2010, she became Texas A&M's first ever NCAA champion in swimming when she won the 100-yard freestyle. She graduated from Texas A&M with a degree in Speech Communication. Julia retired from competitive swimming following the London Olympic Games and now lives in Texas with her husband Shane.
Follow her on twitter @juliah2o