U.S. Nationals: McHugh takes home third national championship title

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Photo Courtesy: Connor Trimble

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Ally McHugh has been a dominating force at the 2019 Phillips 66 U.S. National Championships. The Wisconsin Aquatics team swimmer already has two national championship titles under her belt — one in the women’s 800 free and another in the women’s 800 free relay, she also took home a bronze medal in the women’s 400 I.M. McHugh now takes home her third gold medal from this years national championships as she finished the women’s 400 free with a time of 4:07.08. While Allison Schmitt led the pack for the beginning of the race, McHugh pushed through the back half of the event, coming home in a strong 29.77 and out-touching the other competitors.

The recent Penn State graduate just out-touched Haley Anderson who came in second place with a time of 4:07.77, tying the top seed in the B final, TAC Titans swimmer Ashley Twichell. While Anderson is notoriously known for her endurance and performance in the longer distance events, the 2016 Olympic silver medalist in the women’s open water 10k still dropped nearly three seconds off of her prelims swim.

Sneaking in right behind Anderson for a bronze medal in the event was University of Michigan swimmer Sierra Schmidt, hitting the touch pad at 4:07.79. Schmidt has been a key player for the Wolverines in longer distance events as she finished in 6th place at this past years NCAA’s Division I meet. At the 200 meter mark of the rack Schmidt was in second with a split of 2:02.65. However, Anderson was quicker to the wall than she was and missed silver by just two hundredths of a second.

Fourth place finisher in the event was Clovis Swim Club member Claire Tuggle. Tuggle was yet another swimmer in the event under 4:08 as she hit the wall at 4:07.85. Tuggle shaved about three seconds off from her prelims swim and maintained her fourth place seed in the event.

Another hand eager to get to the wall under that 4:08 mark was Cierra Runge, member of the 2016 Olympic team taking home gold for team USA in the women’s 800 free relay. Having finished within the top eight of other events at this year 2019 Phillips 66 U.S. National Championships, Runge continued to show her competitiveness within the mid distance freestyle event.

Lauren Pitzer finished in sixth place with a time of 4:08.68, dropping one spot below her prelims swim.

Although Olympic medalist Allison Schmitt started the race of strong and held onto the leader board for a good portion of the event, other swimmers such as McHugh demonstrated that they simply had more left in the tank. The Michigan native representing Sun Devil Swimming, finished in seventh with a time of 4:08.81.

Rounding off the top eight of the event was Kensey McMahon. The University of Alabama swimmer finished with a time of 4:10.62.

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