U.S. Nationals, Day One: First Day of Prelims Hints at Fireworks to Come

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By David Rieder

INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana, June 25. THE first session of the 2013 Phillips 66 National Championships provided some early fast swimming but merely foreshadowed some big swimming to come in four championship finals and two timed-final events later in the day. On day one, women's 200 fly favorite Cammile Adams cruised into finals as the easy top seed, while Olympian Tyler Clary finished third on the men's side behind Bobby Bollier and Tom Luchsinger. Nathan Adrian finished first in the men's 100 free, while Shannon Vreeland announced herself as a major player in the women's 100 free.

The top eight that finished behind Vreeland included a series to of names that few expected to challenge for World Championships roster berths. These included Arizona's Margo Geer and a swimmer younger than Missy Franklin, 16 year old Simone Manuel, as well as Elizabeth Pelton, a National team member well known for events quite distinct from the 100 free. Each qualifier for the championship final has a 75% chance of qualifying for the World Champs team, since the U.S. selects six for relay depth, so this relay is guaranteed to have members who have never competed internationally, at least in this event.

More surprising than who did qualify for the final would be who did not. Olympians Allison Schmitt, Lia Neal, and Dana Vollmer finished ninth, tenth, and 11th, respectively, each missing out on a shot to book their tickets to the World Champs in Barcelona. Vollmer scratched the final, preferring to focus on her signature 100 fly on Thursday, while Schmitt remains in the race. A heavy favorite to qualify tomorrow in the 200 free, where she is the Olympic gold medalist, Schmitt could put herself into consideration to swim on the 400 free relay with a strong B-final swim tonight. Schmitt anchored both the 400 free and 400 medley relays at the London Olympics, so she definitely has the credentials for a rebound swim tonight.

No big names got shut out of the men's 100 free final, but some serious speed made it into the heat. Nathan Adrian swam a 22.57 first 50 in prelims. In comparison, Adrian swam a 22.64 first 50 in the Olympic final, where he won the gold medal. At that point, Adrian cruised in to finish with a top qualifying time of 48.54. Don't let the final time mask his performance; Adrian will rip off something fast in the final tonight. He has already swam a 48.08 in Santa Clara this season, and I expect a sub-48 performance in the final. Olympic legend Jason Lezak has more in mind:

Lezak refers here to the 47.58 then-American record he set at the 2008 Olympic Trials. Adrian has been faster, with a 47.52 from the Olympic final, but he has much less competition in Indianapolis this week. Still, that record could be within his reach. Meanwhile, Adrian has a solid cast behind him, with the likes of Ervin, Grevers, Berens, Feigen, Lochte, Dwyer, and Dressel in the field. Watch especially for Ervin, who, at 48.72, swam faster in prelims than he has since winning the 2001 World title in 48.33. He may be the only swimmer in the field with the speed to go with Adrian the first 50.

The race in the women's 200 fly should be for second place, as the field trails Adams by almost a second and a half. Becca Mann finished second in what should be the first of many championship finals this week as she tries to add to her Barcelona slate, having already picked up a berth in the 10k open water event. Watch, too, for Jasmine Tosky, who hopes to finally represent the U.S. internationally in an individual event. The men's race, meanwhile, could shape up to be a rematch of the battle for second at last year's Olympic Trials, where Clary got the better of Bollier down the final lap with a huge finish.

Mann could figure into tonight's final of the women's 800, where Katie Ledecky and Chloe Sutton hope to start their meets off with a bang. The men's mile, meanwhile, features a rematch of the Olympic Trials final between Connor Jaeger, Andrew Gemmell, and Chad La Tourette, with Michael McBroom thrown in for good measure. Everything starts at 6pm eastern time in Indianapolis. Expect some speed during the meet's first session of finals, but these races will just foreshadow what will come next.

Check out David Rieder's Facebook page to see his updated race predictions prior to each finals session.

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