Pain and Pleasure of Being Out Front at Fran Crippen Memorial

By guest writer Julia Wilkinson-Minks (2008 & 2012 Canadian Olympian)

MISSION VIEJO, California, June 7. THE second night at the TYR Fran Crippen Memorial Swim Meet of Champions featured some fast swims, even though several winners were forced to race the clock. This is something to be expected at a meet that features a handful of big names but lacks the talent depth of a meet like last weekend's Arena Grand Prix in Santa Clara.

The first event of the evening was akin to Duel in the Pool, with Australians racing in half of the pool. As the eight women stood up on the blocks, and the flags were whipping around in the wind, one can't help but wonder how this would affect the splits, especially in a race that is just down and back like the 100-meter freestyle.

At the 50-meter mark, Olympic silver medalist Emily Seebohm had the lead in 26.69, but fell behind her Australian teammate Brittany Elmslie on the second 50. Elmsie won the race in 54.71, followed by Seebohm in 55.57. Elizabeth Pelton came storming back on the back half and finished third in 55.79. This morning, Seebohm barely qualified for the final, placing 7th in prelims in 57.15. A significant drop from prelims to finals, especially in a sprint, can often be an indicator that an athlete is in fairly hard training at that point in the season.

1 Brittany Elmslie 18 Australia
26.83 54.71 (27.88)
2 Emily Seebohm 21 Australia
26.69 55.57 (28.88)
3 Elizabeth Pelton 19 CAL-PC
27.27 55.79 (28.52)

In the men's 100-meter freestyle, Seth Stubblefield took the title in 50.90. Stubblefield was a finalist in the 50-yard freestyle at the 2012 and 2013 NCAA Championships; he will be one to watch in the 50-meter freestyle tomorrow night. Sidni Hoxha set a new Albanian national record of 51.02 en route to his second-place finish in the event.

1 Seth Stubblefield 19 CAL-PC
24.19 50.90 (26.71)

Katerine Savard of Canada took control of the 200-meter butterfly right off the blocks: she was out in 28.57, and continued to look strong through most of her race. This should not be a surprise, since Savard's premier event is the 100-meter butterfly. Last weekend at the Santa Clara Grand Prix, she stole the win from Olympic gold medalist and world-record holder Dana Vollmer. Although she was on track to challenge the meet record of 2:08.66 tonight in the 200, Savard began to fall apart in the final 25 meters and split a painful 35.41 on her final 50. Splits aside, Savard still won handily in 2:09.36.

1 Katerine Savard 20 CSQ
28.57 1:01.01 (32.44)
1:33.95 (32.94) 2:09.36 (35.41)

In the men's 200-meter butterfly, there was a tie between NCAA star from Cal Tom Shields and Kyler Van Swol of Minnesota in 2:00.26. The two men swam the event with very different strategies: Shields was out almost a second and a half ahead of Van Swol, but a strong last 50 from Van Swol helped him get his hands on the wall at the same time as Shields. Corey Okubo, 17, finished close behind in 2:00.38.

1 Tom Shields 21 CAL-PC
26.15 56.26 (30.11)
1:27.74 (31.48) 2:00.26 (32.52)
1 Kyler Van Swol 21 Minnesota-MN
26.78 57.60 (30.82)
1:29.24 (31.64) 2:00.26 (31.02)
3 Corey Okubo 17 Aquazots-CA
27.45 57.98 (30.53)
1:29.05 (31.07) 2:00.38 (31.33)

Hilary Caldwell, a 2012 Canadian Olympian, won the 200-meter backstroke by almost two seconds in 2:11.24.

“I was hoping to be a little faster, the meet record is 2:10.81,” said Caldwell, “But it was a bit faster than last weekend in Santa Clara, which is encouraging.”

Tonight's race was a half-second improvement on her 200-meter backstroke from last weekend at the Arena Grand Prix where she placed third behind Missy Franklin and Kendyl Stewart.

1 Hilary Caldwell 22 Pac Sea Wolves
31.69 1:04.68 (32.99)
1:38.13 (33.45) 2:11.24 (33.11)

The top two finishes in the men's 200-meter backstroke went to swimmers from California. Jacob Pebley won in 2:00.33 with a two-second margin ahead of Jeremie Dezwire.

1 Jacob Pebley 19 CAL-PC
27.71 58.02 (30.31)
1:29.06 (31.04) 2:00.33 (31.27)

Hometown hero Chloe Sutton continued her dominance even as she moved down in distance. Sutton demolished a fairly impressive field that included Olympic silver medalist and NCAA champion Haley Anderson and two-time Canadian Olympian Alexa Komarnycky. Sutton won handily in 4:07.88, but was more than two seconds off the meet and pool record of 4:05.44 set by Kate Ziegler in 2007.

1 Chloe Sutton 21 Mission Viejo-CA
29.45 1:00.50 (31.05)
1:31.85 (31.35) 2:03.18 (31.33)
2:34.57 (31.39) 3:05.95 (31.38)
3:37.30 (31.35) 4:07.88 (30.58)

Not long after Sutton had stepped off the top of the podium, Ryan Cochrane was in the water for the men's 400-meter freestyle. In a deja vu of last night, he won his race as well in 3:51.15, slightly faster than his morning swim. Nipping at his heels were his two teammates from Island Swimming, Jeremy Bagshaw and Keegan Zanatta. Bagshaw, who swims at California during the school year, finished second in 3:51.15. Zanatta trains alongside Cochrane in Victoria under coach Randy Bennett: he too reached the podium in 3:53.93.

1 Ryan Cochrane 24 Island Swimming 3:51.15
27.14 56.08 (28.94)
1:25.54 (29.46) 1:54.82 (29.28)
2:24.26 (29.44) 2:53.43 (29.17)
3:22.88 (29.45) 3:51.15 (28.27)
2 Jeremy Bagshaw 21 Island Swimming 3:53.67
27.49 56.51 (29.02)
1:25.93 (29.42) 1:55.64 (29.71)
2:25.34 (29.70) 2:55.43 (30.09)
3:25.18 (29.75) 3:53.67 (28.49)
3 Keegan Zanatta 20 Island Swimming 3:53.93
27.57 56.74 (29.17)
1:26.06 (29.32) 1:55.86 (29.80)
2:25.81 (29.95) 2:55.71 (29.90)
3:25.52 (29.81) 3:53.93 (28.41)

Although this evening featured a few close races, even a tie in the men's 200-meter butterfly, most of the winners seemed to be racing against themselves down that final stretch of pool. This can be either detrimental or beneficial at a meet this point in the season.

Without anyone beside you, it is even harder to push through that pain that is synonymous with in-season racing. That being said, winning by a considerable margin, regardless of your time, can be a good confidence boost for a swimmer as they head into the final weeks of training before taper. At the end of the day, it is up to the individual swimmer to fight through the pain alone at the end of the race, and to find the positives in a night of tough racing.

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

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