Reaction Time: Interactive Commentary from USA Swimming National Championships

INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana, August 2. is bringing its readers wall-to-wall coverage of USA Swimming’s National Championships held at the IU Natatorium in Indianapolis this week. As part of the already deep, rich and up-to-the-minute coverage of the actual racing, our team of reporters are also available via this new interactive web site element, Reaction Time.

Feel free to react to anything you see or observe throughout the meet in this location, and we will do our best to keep you updated on our observations of some interesting tidbits emerging from the meet that may not make our standard meet coverage. Also, look here first for Breaking News items that we discover during our time talking with the best of the best on deck and in the stands.

Additionally, we are available for special requests throughout the meet. So, if there is something you are dying to know, click below to React through Reaction Time and we will do our best to fulfill that request.

John Lohn
August 2, 9:21 a.m. Day Three of the National Champs is under way with heats of the women’s 400 freestyle. The men will be up next in the event, with the 100 butterfly following. The men’s 800 free relay will also be part of the program tonight.

Dana Lawrence Lohn
August 2, 9:25 a.m. A very quiet morning at prelims comes as a breath of fresh air, literally, with the happy news that the facility has “taken immediate steps to address air quality complaints raised by competitors in the ConocoPhillips USA Swimming Championships.” Apparently the thick odor of chlorine had been triggered by a wicked cycle: as they attempted to control the humidity by recirculating air within the building, they closed the exhaust vents and relied only on internal systems, which simply weren’t clearing out the evaporated chlorine quickly enough. Per the director of the Natatorium, they’ve now overridden the system, opened the vents, and propped up four large exhaust fans at the corner doorways. It’s a night-and-day difference, though there are still some red-eyed sneezers drifting about this morning.

Dana Lawrence Lohn
August 2, 9:50 a.m. Little-known fact: arcing far above the pool, just below the roofline, is the “catwalk,” where photographers suspend themselves over the water to snap the striking overhead shots you periodically see in Swimming World Magazine and in other publications. Our resident photographic genius, Peter Bick, has offered to take me up there for a quick look. If you are in this facility and you look up to see a blonde with hands clenched on the catwalk banister, you now know why!

Jason Marsteller
August 2, 10:10 a.m. It’s been an interesting week so far as the historic Indiana University Natatorium located on the campus of IUPUI celebrates 25 years of existence.

Some background on the facility. Its official name is the Indiana University Natatorium at IUPUI. While many continue to use the incorrect verbiage of the IUPUI Natatorium, the institution responsible for the IU in the joint-campus Indiana University-Purdue University in Indianapolis built the facility back in 1982.

In fact, Indiana University’s Swimming and Diving Hall of Fame plaques can still be seen in the walkway leading to the spectator’s seating. Both Doc Counsilman and diving coach Hobie Billingsley are centered in the plaques.

Dana Lawrence Lohn
August 2, 10:23 a.m. Jason’s proud Indiana roots are evident, eh? I feel a similar proprietary connection to my alma mater. And if you ever ask John Lohn about La Salle University, prepare to hear its praises.

We’re in Heat Five of 13 of the men’s 400 freestyle, and even as the talent and dedication of these swimmers is evident, we’re eagerly awaiting the upcoming seeded heats. Heat 11 will be a Wolverine show with Vanderkaay, Vendt and Patton. Heat 12 welcomes the tropics with Californians Jensen and Crippen, plus Florida’s Lochte, followed up by a preview of tonight’s possible handoff of the American Record: Phelps and Keller in the center of the pool in Heat 13.

Dana Lawrence Lohn
August 2, 10:52 a.m. Patton is a scratch in Heat 11 … what fun to see open-water specialist Mark Warkentin in Lane Eight. This must feel like a crazy sprint to him. Vanderkaay and Vendt are pacing each other in a very intense morning swim – 3:48.59 for the former, 3:48.89 for the latter.

Lochte is a scratch in Heat 12, likely so he can be fresh for the 100 butterfly … we wonder if David Walters, in Lane Seven, has come down from last night’s euphoria, or is he still in the clouds?

Jason Marsteller
August 2, 10:56 a.m. Definitely have to ask John Lohn about his La Salle background. Talk about proud of your roots…

I graduated from Tennessee and Southern Utah, but I worked at IU for two years. You tend to learn things IU-related when you work at a place that long, especially someplace as historic as Indiana with names like Mark Spitz and Doc Counsilman in the media guide.

Something else Big Ten-centric. I spoke with Minnesota Aquatics coaches and it sounds like everyone they know is okay after the bridge collapse back in Minneapolis. We’re happy to hear that at least they were not directly impacted by the tragedy.

Dana Lawrence Lohn
August 2, 11:42 a.m. Auburn is standing by their men: when Tyler McGill blew through his seed time by more than a second in the 100 butterfly, this side of the Natatorium whistled and shook.

It’s a great privilege to check out Phelps and Wildman-Tobriner side-by-side in the 100 butterfly, as along with Crocker, they have some of the prettiest strokes we’ve seen in some time.

As is standard national meet practice once prelims wrap, we shift gears into time trials. It could be that later this week, we’ll see an athlete or two take a strike at a US Open or American record within the time trial format. We’ll be watching for that.

Right this minute, we’re also watching the start of the Paris Open on Omega Timing. It’ll be fascinating to see how results in these lucrative races compare to Indianapolis clockings. Bonne chance to Aaron Peirsol – we believe he may challenge the 200 backstroke world record.

Jason Marsteller
August 2, 12:25 p.m. Thanks to Navy’s media relations guy Justin Kischefsky, who happened to be an honorable mention for this year’s Swimming World Magazine SID of the Year, I had the chance to chat with Navy’s coach Adam Kennedy as well as graduating senior Kevin Mukri and soon-to-be sophomore Adam Meyer.

When other United States swimmers were competing and training through various sectionals and state championships over the summer as well as some top International meets, the service academy folks were hard at work training to defend our country.

Although Mukri will have his enrollment in Flight School in Pensacola delayed until November so that he can train to compete in the World Military Games held in India in October, he still had several trips to prepare for his flight training. Think Top Gun here. From talking to the man, I’m proud to know he’s watching our soldiers’ collective backs from up in the sky after two more years of intense training.

Meyer, who is going to be on ship when he graduates from the Academy, had the chance to spend some time on an aircraft carrier that went to New York for Fleet Week. He had the chance to fly in a helicopter and take part in some marksmanship training while stationed on the ship. He’s hoping to become a member of the elite Navy Seals when he completes his time in the Academy.

Kennedy explained that coaching at Navy has been an experience. The student-athletes on that campus are singularly motivated and intense individuals. He said that as opposed to coaching away from the Academy where he sometimes had to kick kids into an extra gear, he actually has to remind some of his current swimmers to take a breath at times. “They are always go-go-go.”

I appreciate the three taking some time to chat with me before they headed off after prelims.

Jason Marsteller
August 2, 1:13 p.m. Still looking for the time, but it appears that Adam Mania set the U.S. Open record in the men’s 50 backstroke during time trials. According to meet officials who wished to make sure that we reported it was “unofficial” until verified, Mania split a 25.38 during his 100 backstroke time trial.

The mark had stood since Neil Walker clocked a time of 25.59 here in Indy in 2000.

Also in men’s 50 back news, Randall Bal lowered his American record to 24.84 as first reported here.

Dana Lawrence Lohn
August 2, 6:24 p.m. Records in the men’s 50 back got shaken down a little today, and we’re about to watch the men’s 400 freestyle, wondering if perhaps we might see some more record-breaking action?

Ziegler, Hoff, and Gingrich are in the water now, fighting out the women’s 400 freestyle. At the 100, still way too close to call – no swimmer is more than a body length back from Ziegler’s lead.

It’s immediately noticeable that the venue is much, much fuller tonight than it was yesterday. We’ve bounced around some thoughts on why this might be true: is Thursday a hot date night in Indy? (kidding). In all seriousness, an increased media focus on swimming has to be a factor. Yesterday’s USA Today article about Dara Torres likely garnered the attention of hundreds of thousands of people.

Ziegler is right on American Record pace at the 300 – Katie Hoff is just a hand-length behind …

Crowd is erupting!

Ziegler takes it in 4:04.24 and breaks both her own Nationals record from last year in Irvine (4:05.75) and her own US Open Record from the TYR Swim Meet of Champions (4:05.44), a record previously set by Janet Evans in 1987, the year before Ziegler was born. Katie Hoff touches second, less than four-tenths behind (4.04:60). Alyssa Anderson, a 16-year-old out of Granite Bay, California, deserves to be proud of her third-place finish (4:11.11).

Dana Lawrence Lohn
August 2, 6:46 p.m. Call us crazy: after a day’s anticipation, we’re watching a surprisingly slow start to the men’s 400 freestyle. Englishman David Carry leads the first 100, touching about three-tenths over the AR. Vanderkaay then touches first at the 200, 1.5 seconds over the AR, so it’ll take a negative split to beat the existing record. Vanderkaay still has it at the 300, so we all wait to see how Phelps comes off the wall at the 350 — ends up Vanderkaay (3:45.55), Jensen (3:47.08), Phelps (3:47.13), with American recordholder Keller in sixth (3:52.83), a full eight seconds off his personal best.

Erik Vendt has a fan club near media row: parents? friends? We’re not sure, but the booming “Good Job Erik!” that resonated out of the West section of the facility did sound like fatherly love.

Dana Lawrence Lohn
August 2, 7:06 p.m. Club Wolverine is gathering in force behind Coach Bowman at the northeast corner of the pool. The black tee shirts are very simple and eye-catching. Could they be waiting for another classic matchup between Phelps (who’s got less than an hour of recovery time post-400 freestyle – he just passed on the medals ceremony) and Crocker, who’s looked very relaxed and happy at this meet?

Dana Lawrence Lohn
August 2, 7:12 p.m. Rachel Komisarz just won the women’s 100 butterfly in 58.04. She emerged from the pool and was asked “how she keeps up [at age 30]?.” She replied that “I train with the younguns, so that helps.” The younguns of Lakeside Swim Team in Kentucky should feel quite pleased with themselves.

I’ll leave the very data-savvy Jason Marsteller to close out on tonight’s men’s 100 butterfly and men’s 800 free relay – we’re going out for Italian. But first, a collective groan just came from the crowd at the start of the 100 butterfly – might Crocker have false-started? Looked possible. Phelps takes the win at 51.39. And yes, Crocker launched too early and was disqualified. Fellow Longhorn and finalist Ricky Berens immediately swam over to him and provided a pat on the back.