TYR Pro Swim Series Knoxville: Felix Aubock Wins Again; Carson Foster Dominates (Men’s Recap)

Felix Aubock of Austria competes in rde Men's Freestyle 400m Heats during rde 20rd World Aquatics Championships at rde Marine Messe Hall A in Fukuoka (Japan), July 23rd, 2023.
Felix Aubock -- Photo Courtesy: Andrea Masini / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto

TYR Pro Swim Series Knoxville: Felix Aubock Wins Again; Carson Foster Dominates (Men’s Recap)

Friday night action at the TYR Pro Swim Series in Knoxville, Tenn., included four men’s finals, with Austrian veteran Felix Aubock continuing his standout performance at this meet with his second victory while Carson Foster was utterly dominant in the 400 IM, going wire-to-wire for a five-and-a-half-second victory. The other events contested were the 200 backstroke and 100 butterfly.

Men’s 200 Freestyle

One night after blasting his competition over the final two lengths of the 400 free final, turning a small deficit into a two-second advantage, Felix Aubock used a similar strategy to come out on top in the 200 free. Aubock allowed the likes of Grant HouseKieran Smith and Luca Urlando to shine over the first 150 meters, but he got serious on the third 50 as he passed House and Smith and crept up on Urlando, who was still a quarter-second ahead of the Austrian, 1:19.58 to 1:19.83.

But Aubock, unlike everyone else in the field, saved his best speed for last, with a 26.87 split that was quicker than his second and third laps. Aubock exploded and built a lead of almost nine tenths on the field by the time they reached the final wall. Aubock set the pace with a time of 1:46.70, with House coming up to take second in a tight finish at 1:47.58. Smith was two hundredths back (1:47.60), with Urlando (1:47.68) and Lucas Henveaux (1:47.84) also involved in a blanket finish.

Men’s 200 Backstroke

The presence of teenager Daniel Diehl and ACC rival Jack Aikins made him work down the stretch, but NC State fifth-year swimmer Hunter Tapp never trailed in the 200 back final , opening up a lead of three tenths by the final turn and holding off the surging Diehl at the finish. None of the swimmers approached their best times, with Tapp owning a best time of 1:56.45 and Aikins and Diehl a bit quicker with both at 1:56.04

Tapp came in at 1:58.91, with Diehl a quarter-second behind at 1:59.16. Aikins, who will represent the U.S. in this event at the upcoming World Championships in Doha, also checked in under 2:00 at 1:59.98.

Men’s 400 IM

Bobby Finke and Jay Litherland are two of the best finishers ever in the 400 IM, with Litherland using his freestyle abilities to steal away spots on two Olympic teams and then earn Olympic silver in 2021 while Finke has shown his skills on the way to numerous world titles in the distance freestyle races. But with Carson Foster showing off his versatility in the various strokes and turning a whopping seven seconds ahead after breaststroke, neither Finke nor Litherland would have any chance.

Since narrowly missing the 2021 Olympic team behind Chase Kalisz and Litherland, Foster has been the second-best 400 IMer in the world, earning silver at the last two editions of the World Championships behind world-record breaker Leon Marchand. With Marchand and Kalisz several states away in Tempe, Ariz., no one was beating Foster here. He cruised to the wall in 4:13.04, with Finke sprinting home to overtake Litherland for second, 4:18.61 to 4:18.70.

Men’s 100 Butterfly

The last time the United States selected a team for a major international competition, Shaine Casas struggled at U.S. Nationals and did not qualify for the World Championships until the final day, when he placed second in the 200 IM. But at full strength, Casas is a multi-event contender between IM, butterfly, the 100 free and 100 fly, and he has shown those skills between last month’s U.S. Open and this meet in Knoxville. In the last A-final of Friday evening, Casas went out fast and held off Dare Rose, last year’s World Championships bronze medalist in the event, at the finish.

Casas was out in 23.87, and he finished in 27.53 on the way to a final mark of 51.40. Rose, meanwhile, overtook Santo Condorelli in the closing meters and finished seven hundredths ahead, 51.72 to 51.79. Both Casas and Rose are among the top-five Americans ever in the 100 fly, with Casas tied for third with Ian Crocker at 50.40 and Rose fifth at 50.46. Caeleb Dressel and Michael Phelps are the other two with quicker times.

Trenton Julian was fourth in 52.33 while Michael Andrew, fourth in the 100 fly at the 2022 World Championships, took sixth in 52.66.

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