USA Swimming Winter Nationals: Alia Atkinson, SwimMAC Down Meet Marks

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KNOXVILLE, Tennessee, December 6. THE second day of action at the USA Swimming Winter Nationals featured a pair of championship records, while plenty of other top times also went up on the board in Knoxville.

Women’s 200 medley relay
This morning was more about who didn’t make the championship heat than who did as a pair of heat winners lost their times due to exchange DQs.

Michigan’s Ali DeLoof, Angela Chokran, Zoe Mattingly and Julia Salem posted a 1:38.01 in heat 2, but had a relay exchange DQ between DeLoof and Chokran. SwimMAC’s pros then lost a 1:39.03 to win heat 3 with a relay exchange DQ between Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace and Kelsi Hall.

That leaves California as the heavy favorites with both A and B squads going 1-2 in prelims. Cindy Tran (24.12), Marina Garcia Urzainqui (35.49), Rachel Bootsma (15.99) and Kaylin Bing (22.16) led prelims with a 1:37.76 to set up the Golden Bears with an NCAA A cut in the process. Cal’s Hoi Shun Au (24.43), Celina Li (28.37), Farida Osman (23.21) and Rachael Acker (22.28) took second in 1:38.29.

Indiana’s Brooklyn Snodgrass (25.08), Bronwyn Pasloski (27.87), Gia Dalesandro (24.17) and Kaitlyn Flederbach (22.13) rounded out the top three in 1:39.25. Louisville (1:39.36), Tennessee (1:39.67) and Arizona State (1:40.86) qualified fourth through sixth.

Meanwhile, Nation’s Capital’s Janet Hu, Schuyler Bailar, Kylie Jordan and World Swimmer of the Year Katie Ledecky set themselves up for a run at the U.S. 15-18 National Age Group record with a seventh-seeded 1:41.06. The quartet will be gunning for the Aquajet record of 1:39.40 from 2010.

Columbia rounded out the top eight with a 1:41.96, and will be going against the big guns this evening thanks to the relay DQs.

Men’s 200 medley relay
After nearly cracking the American record in the 100 back on relay duty last night, there’s little doubt that Nick Thoman is completely invested in swimming again after a long break following the 2012 London Olympics.

Last night, he clocked a 44.56 on relay leadoff, and this morning he turned in one of the fastest 50-yard backs in history with a 20.81 as Thoman, Eric Knight (23.86), Tim Phillips (20.36) and Cullen Jones (19.28) clipped the meet record with a 1:24.31. That swim beat the 1:24.84 set by Arizona a year ago.

Michigan’s John Wojciechowski (22.28), Richard Funk (23.98), Dylan Bosch (21.08) and Bruno Ortiz (19.41) turned in a second-seeded time of 1:26.75, while Louisville’s Grigory Tarasevich (22.20), Kameron Chastain (24.11), Aaron Young (21.07) and Caryle Blondell (19.65) picked up third in 1:27.03.

California (1:27.35), Tennessee (1:27.63), NYAC (1:27.81), Michigan (1:27.81) and Arizona State (1:28.51) also made the finale. Notably, Luke Percy continues to find his form in short course yards, throwing down a 19.39 anchor for the Volunteers.

Women’s 400 IM
After a strong 200 IM against teammate Elizabeth Pelton last night, Celina Li returned this morning with a 4:10.96 to lead qualifying in the distance medley this morning. She’s been much faster with a 4:06.94 lifetime best from 2011, but will be looking for a breakthrough in hopes of clearing the NCAA A cut in the event (4:05.44) this evening.

The Big Ten picked up the next two spots in qualifying with Indiana’s Dorina Szekeres racing to a 4:11.38 for second, while Michigan’s Marni Oldershaw placed third in 4:12.18 with both having plenty more in the tank to push Li this evening.

Kansas’s Chelsie Miller (4:12.49) and Michigan’s Courtney Beidler (4:12.64) finished fourth and fifth, with Li’s Golden Bear teammate Kelly Naze hitting the wall in 4:14.65 for sixth overall.

Arizona State’s Tristin Baxter qualified seventh in 4:16.01, while hometown favorite Amanda Carner of Tennessee clinched the final transfer spot into the finale with a 4:16.54.

This morning definitely was more about just getting a lane to vie for the national title, with some seriously fast times likely in the hopper this evening.

Men’s 400 IM
NCAP’s Andrew Seliskar picked up a big lifetime best this morning with a 3:44.44 to lead the way in the men’s distance medley. That swim clipped his 3:44.83 record from the 2013 NCSA Junior Nationals, and depending on how much he saved this morning, he could have an outside shot at making a run at Chase Kalisz’s 17-18 U.S. National Age Group record of 3:39.82.

Cal’s Josh Prenot qualified second in 3:45.48, while 500 free victor Connor Jaeger of Michigan clocked a third-seeded 3:45.50. Both of those swimmers are likely going to beat the NCAA A cut of 3:43.48 this evening to lock down another potential swim this March.

Michigan’s Kyle Whitaker (3:47.56), Utah’s Kristian Kron (3:48.30), Michigan’s Dylan Bosch (3:49.13), Kentucky’s Nolan Tesone (3:49.53) and Pitt’s Zach Lierley (3:51.30) also earned spots in the finale and will push the top three.

Women’s 100 fly
NCAP’s Janet Hu, 17, broke the 52-second barrier for the first time with a sizzling 51.95 this morning. That swim beat her previous lifetime best of 52.03 set at the 2013 NCSA Junior Nationals, and put her in striking distance tonight of Natalie Coughlin’s amazing 17-18 U.S. National Age Group record of 51.18 from 2001.

Hu already has been part of three national age group records this week, having snatched the 50 free record last night and helping NCAP in a pair of 15-18 relay marks last night.

Olympian Claire Donahue cruised to second in 52.03, and will be a good person for Hu to pace off during the finale as Donahue will likely push the pace hard this evening. Louisville’s Kelsi Worrell qualified third in 52.44, while Becca Nelson, just 15, could have a national age group record of her own with a 52.87. That’s just off Hu’s 2012 15-16 NAG of 52.40 in the event.

Indiana’s Gia Dalesandro (53.16), Cal’s Cindy Tran (53.41), Cal’s Celina Li (53.48) and SwimAtlanta’s Amanda Weir (53.80) also made their way into the finale.

Men’s 100 fly
This year, Tucson Ford’s Matt Grevers has definitely been putting more emphasis on the fly events as opposed to his always solid backstroke and sprint freestyle events. But, it’s been awhile since he put up a strong time in the 100-yard fly, as evidenced by his entrance in heat 1 this morning.

Not to worry, though, as he dropped a scorching 45.85 this morning to lead qualifying. That’s his fifth-fastest time ever, and he should take a run at his lifetime best of 45.07 from the 2010 Short Course Nationals.

SwimMAC’s Tim Phillips cruised into second with a 46.01, while NYAC’s Adam Brown took third in 46.32 as the top three in the finale is filled with veterans. Queens’ Matt Josa is the youngest of the top eight, qualifying fourth with a 46.38 as an 18-year-old.

Arizona State’s Alex Coci (46.65), Wolverine’s Sean Fletcher (46.93), Louisville’s Aaron Young (46.99) and Michigan’s John Wojciechowski (47.02) made up the rest of the championship eight heading into this evening.

Women’s 200 free
NCAP’s Katie Ledecky could add to her club’s rising total of U.S. National Age Group records as she takes a run at the 15-16 U.S. NAG in this event tonight. She posted a 1:43.74 this morning, less than a second off her personal best of 1:42.96 from February of this year. She will have a shot at Dagny Knutson’s 2008 mark of 1:42.81, and could threaten Dana Vollmer’s 2009 meet mark of 1:42.36.

Missy Franklin, who finished runner-up to Ledecky in World Swimmer of the Year voting this year, qualified second in 1:44.16. While she will be looking to unseat Ledecky for the national title, her primary goal is clearing the NCAA A cut of 1:43.91 to earn another potential swim at NCAAs in March next year for California.

Tennessee’s Lindsay Gendron enjoyed some home-pool advantage en route to qualifying third with a 1:45.20, while California nearly swept the rest of the qualifying spots.

Cal’s Caroline Piehl (1:45.70), Elizabeth Pelton (1:46.34), Rachael Acker (1:46.35) and Camille Cheng (1:46.47) finished fourth, sixth, seventh, eighth, while Ohio State’s Sam Cheverton wound up fifth in 1:45.77.

Men’s 200 free
NYAC’s Darian Townsend kept up his strong fall with a swift 1:33.39 to lead the way. He doesn’t have much time to cut to beat his lifetime best of 1:32.85 from the 2008 NCAA Division I Championships as he continues his career resurgence.

Michigan’s Michael Wynalda placed second in 1:33.45 to pick up an NCAA A cut, while Louisville’s Joao De Lucca clinched third with a 1:34.28.

SwimMAC’s Dax Hill (1:35.06), Michigan’s Connor Jaeger (1:35.32), Louisville’s Trevor Carroll (1:35.43), Wolverine’s Michael Klueh (1:35.49) and Michigan’s Anders Nielsen (1:35.64) qualified fourth through eighth to make up the rest of the championship eight.

Women’s 100 breast
SoFlo’s Alia Atkinson, a dominant force on the FINA World Cup circuit this fall, downed the meet record with her third 58-second performance all time in the event. Atkinson raced her way to a 58.24 for the top time in the morning, just behind her lifetime best of 58.16 from earlier this year in March. That effort beat the championship record of 58.32 set by Laura Sogar a year ago. Atkinson will be chasing the U.S. Open record in finals, currently held by Breeja Larson with a 57.43 from February of this year.

SwimMAC’s Katie Meili cruised into second with a 59.64 this morning as the only other sub-1:00 swimmer during qualifying.

Tennessee picked up another third-seed with Molly Hannis posting a 1:00.27, while Indiana’s Bronwyn Pasloski took fourth in 1:00.48.

SwimMAC’s Micah Lawrence (1:00.51), Michigan’s Angela Chokran (1:00.63), Utah’s Nicole Ligeza (1:00.64) and Minnesota’s Haley Spencer (1:00.74) made up a stacked finale in what could produce some special swims.

Men’s 100 breast
Grand Canyon’s Eetu Karvonen nearly beat his lifetime best of 52.65 from the 2013 NCAA Division II Championships en route to dropping a top time of 52.78 this morning. Meanwhile, NCAP’s Chuck Katis also cleared the 53-second mark with a swift 52.94. That’s another near personal record for the top two swimmers.

Louisville’s Kameron Chastain (53.07) and Michigan’s Richard Funk (53.12) finished third and fourth behind the leaders and will be vying for the NCAA A cut of 52.54 this evening.

Trojan’s Mike Alexandrov and Tennessee’s Brad Craig posted matching 53.16s to tie for fifth, while NCAP’s Andrew Seliskar qualified seventh in 53.26 as the only teenager of the finale. Cal’s Damir Dugonjic, meanwhile, checked in eighth with a 53.33 for the final spot in the championship heat.

Women’s 100 back
It has to be rough for the California women’s backstrokers during training when sixth of the top nine swimmers at Winter Nationals all wear the Golden Bears swim cap. It really is an embarrassment of riches, especially considering that most of Cal’s swimmers are not all that rested for this event.

The Holy Trinity of women’s backstroke at Cal finished in the top three this morning with Missy Franklin (52.22), Rachel Bootsma (52.31) and Elizabeth Pelton (52.63) all capable of winning the title this evening.

Hoi Shun Au (53.06) and Melanie Klaren (53.17) also made the finale for Cal with fifth and seventh-place finishes, while former NCAA titlist Cindy Tran just missed the top eight with a 53.40 for ninth.

NCAP’s Janet Hu, who has been tearing up the National Age Group records this meet, qualified fourth in 52.80, while SwimMAC’s Kathleen Baker (53.13) and Indiana’s Brooklyn Snodgrass (53.28) also made their way into the championship eight. Both Hu, 17, and Baker, 16, could have a run at one of Bootsma’s National Age Group records, but it’s going to be pretty difficult to track down with her 17-18 record standing at 50.54 and her 15-16 time a 51.53.

Men’s 100 back
A day after his near American record of 44.56 as a relay leadoff for SwimMAC, Nick Thoman put Matt Grevers’ mark on notice with a smooth 45.11 in prelims. And, if Thoman doesn’t do it there’s a chance Grevers will eclipse his 44.55 from last year after posting a second-seeded 45.82 this morning during which he visibly shut it down the last few meters.

Russian Olympian Arkady Vyatchanin is also in the mix with a third-seeded 46.31, while Cal’s Ryan Murphy will be battling the big dogs with a fourth-place 46.36.

Cal’s Jacob Pebley (46.82), Indiana’s James Wells (47.02), Wolverine’s Junya Koga (47.24) and Louisville’s Grigory Tarasevich (47.43) also earned their ways into the finale in what looks to be a stocked field.

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