USA Swimming Nationals: Caitlin Leverenz Wins Women’s 400 IM

By John Lohn

INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana, August 1. RELYING on her strength, the breaststroke, Caitlin Leverenz (El Dorado) vaulted from fifth at the midpoint to first and walked away with the title in the 400-meter individual medley. Leverenz, the 200 breast champion at the recent Pan American Games, registered a winning time of 4:40.81.

"Pan Ams was a great experience, and I had a lot of confidence going into Nationals. The backstroke is my weakness – I always feel like I fall back there and have to catch up in the breast. [Regarding tonight's win,] I know that Katie Hoff wasn't there, but this still raises my confidence moving forward," she said.

Leverenz was the second-place finisher in the 200 breaststroke on Tuesday night, but elevated a spot on the podium after gobbling up significant real estate during the third leg. The previous personal best for the 16-year-old was 4:40.89. Swim Atlanta's Kathleen Hersey, the winner of this event at the Pan Am Games, was second to Leverenz in 4:42.25.

Hersey took the lead at the start, splitting 1:02.80 for her butterfly leg, and maintained that advantage through the backstroke. While she fell back during the breaststroke, Hersey rallied during the freestyle leg for a personal-best mark. On Tuesday night, Hersey continued her strong summer by grabbing the gold medal in the 200 butterfly.

Stanford's Julia Smit checked in as the third-place finisher. Smit was timed in 4:42.37, ahead of the 4:42.85 posted by Great Britain's Hannah Miley. King's Ariana Kukors, a World Champs team member, earned fifth place in a time of 4:44.72.

Click here to view event results PDF file.