Southern California Swimming Winter Invitational Produces Solid Swims

Commerce, CA, December 24. THE long history of fine swims in this meet continues with both newcomers and established stars coming up with quality performances over the December 16-19, 2004 course of this meet held in the city of Commerce.

The most interesting contrast was produced in the women’s 100 backstroke. Misty Hyman, best known as 2000 Olympic champion at 200 M butterfly, also has had quite a backstroke history, including a short course world championship and national high school record in the 100 back. She won here at :55.63(:27.26), giving her a double with her 100 fly win at :54.93. But in both instances a youth movement was in pursuit.

Leading Misty – yes, leading her – at the 50 mark of the 100 back was 12 year old star Cindy Tran, GWSC, at :27.14. Her foot touch was only :83 off: Diana McManus’ 11-12 NAG for the 50 back of 26.31. But the youngster kept going, returning under 30 seconds to finish second in :56.73. Beth Botsford’s 1994 record of :56.23 survived, for now. Tran has the 10 & Un 50 back mark (:27.81), with Botsford holding the 100 mark in that age group, as well as 13-14. Botsford, of course, won gold two years later in Atlanta in the 100 backstroke.

Chasing Misty in the fly was a 15 year old (Elise Eten, NOVA; :55.99) with the next two finishers both only 14.

The best men’s swim came in the 100 fly where Olympic semi-finalist and former short course meters world record holder Milorad (Michael) Cavic, UN-CA-20, won by over three seconds at :47.81 (:21.89). The out speed was enough for an even better swim but it is difficult to maintain concentration when you lead by over two seconds at the half-way mark.

The big winner among the guys was 16 year old Andie Schultz of North Coast Aquatics. He gathered in the 200-500 freestyle double (1:40.80; 4:30.10) and also doubled-up in the 200-400 IMs (1:53.82; 4:00.34 – won latter event by 6.15 seconds).

NOVA had two female triple winners. One time butterfly specialist Tara Thomas, 15, won the 200 fly at 2:02.11 but was possibly more impressive in her sprint freestyle wins, :23.80(:23.67p) in the 50 and, saving arguably the best women’s swim for her last effort, :50.36 in the 100.

NOVA’s second triple came from Olympic Trial finalist Jessica Hardy who won both breaststrokes (1:02.80 and 2:15.96) and the 200 IM (2:05.45). Stephanie Gabert, 15-AZOT, gave admirable chase to Hardy in the breaststrokes, garnering silver in each (1:03.47; 2:16.57) and even leading Hardy halfway through the 100, :30.05 to :30.33.

Canyon’s 15 year old John Criste exhibited even more dominance in the Men’s breaststrokes than Hardy did among the women. His :56.69 was nearly 2 seconds up on the field in the 100 and at 2:01.27 he was 4.13 ahead in the 200.

Three other doubles came from Sara Sun, 15-PASA, in the 1000-1650 events (9:51.70; 16:21.73) and by Wil Whaley, 17-EAST, in the men’s backstrokes (:52.07; 1:51.58) and, in a rather odd combination, NOVA’s Sean Boyle won the 200 fly (1:53.46) and 100 free (:46.73). Boyle also had an outstanding :20.61 anchor leg on NOVA’s 4 x 50 freestyle relay.

They only won one race apiece but Scott Spansail, NOVA-17, and Blake Hayter, NCA-16, had swims that fit in with the best of the weekend. Spansail won the 1000 on opening night at 9:14.94 and Hayter went 4:50.85 in the 500 free.