December 17, 2011
WRITTEN BY SHARON ROBB
With the crowd chanting, “USA, USA, USA,” the United State’s obliteration of the European All-Stars continued Saturday at the Mutual of Omaha Duel InThe Pool.
In front of a good crowd at the Georgia Tech Aquatic Center in Atlanta and national television audience, Team USA routed the Europe All Star Team, 181.5-80.5 and now holds a commanding 5-0 in meet history dating back to 2003.
“It’s Team USA baby, it’s the greatest country in the world,” said Garrett Weber-Gale after the U.S. completed the two-day meet with an exciting come-from-behind victory in the men’s 400-meter freestyle relay.
The U.S. men and women broke one world record and seven American records in short course meters over two days.
“I think the whole team is in a great position to set itself up for a wonderful Olympic Games,” U.S. team coach Dave Marsh said. “We know the spotlight will be on swimming at the Olympics and this group is embracing that.”
The Olympic Countdown is now at 36 weeks.
Many U.S. swimmers, including Ricky Berens and Kathleen Hersey, who both had a breakout meet, threw their gear in the stands to appreciative swimming fans and loved ones.
The U.S. team looked just as impressive on the second day of the one-sided competition as they did on opening day.
In the individual event second-day action:
Women’s 800-meter freestyle: Denmark’s world champion Lotte Friis set the tone early and led from wire-to-wire to win in 8:04.77. Chloe Sutton was second in 8:14.29 and Grainne Murphy of Great Britain was third in 8:18.03.
Men’s 800-meter freestyle: European Pal Joensen of the Faroe Islands distanced himself at the halfway mark to go on and win in 7:36.24 followed by Michael Klueh in 7:39.90 and Mads Glaesner of Denmark in 7:42.27.
Women’s 200-meter freestyle: Teenager Missy Franklin went out fast for a big lead and won in 1:53.19 to lead a U.S. sweep with Dana Vollmer in 1:53.92 and Katie Hoff in 1:54.24.
Men’s 200-meter freestyle: Ricky Berens won his second event of the meet dominating the 200 to win in 1:42.68 and led another U.S. sweep with Matt McLean in 1:44.26 and Conor Dwyer in 1:44.45.
Women’s 100-meter backstroke: Two-time Olympic champion Natalie Coughlin took the lead early, being chased by Brit Lizzie Simmons who overtook Coughlin in the final 25 meters to win in 56.82. Coughlin finished in 56.92 and Franklin, still wet on the blocks from warming down after the 200 freestyle, was third in 57.49. “I kind of went for it, hoping I had a bit left on the back end,” Simmons said.
Men’s 100-meter backstroke: In a tight race, Matt Grevers (49.85), Nick Thoman (50.13) and Ryan Lochte (50.65) completed another U.S. sweep moving within one point of clinching the meet. Lochte put in a 5K morning practice before competing in the afternoon. “I have to find new ways to get better and new ways to hurt myself,” Grevers said. “It’s going to be an exciting journey to the Trials.”
Women’s 100-meter breaststroke: The U.S. team clinched the meet title in this event, 138.5-46.5. Jessica Hardy went out quickly and was on world record pace early until late in the race but managed to knock off Rebecca Soni by a body length in 1:03.33. Soni, who didn’t have enough time to make up for her start in short course, was second in 1:04.53. Rikke Pedersen of Denmark was third in 1:05.50. “I did it for my entire team, it was so much fun and I am excited,” Hardy said. “That was a blast.”
Men’s 100-meter breaststroke: For the second day in a row, Brendan Hansen knocked off world champion Daniel Gyurta of Hungary to sweep the breaststroke events and win in 57.47. Gyurta was second in 57.62 and American Mike Alexandrov was third in 57.81. “I need more of this, getting on the blocks, in the water and racing the best in the water,” Hansen said. “That’s what fun is about in this sport and makes this summer that much more fun.”
Women’s 200-meter butterfly: Hometown crowd favorite Kathleen Hersey set her first career American record in 2:03.49. She opened up a solid lead in the final 25 meters. Elaine Breeden moved into second in 2:04.98 and Martina Granstroem of Sweden was third. “I never swam short course meters so to be able to do this is perfect and my favorite scenario,” Hersey said. “Every event, every meet is a stepping stone. To do this six months before the Olympics I am so excited. I also know it’s going to fuel the fire for a lot of people. I did things well in that race but I have things to work on.”
Men’s 200-meter butterfly: Hungary’s Laszlo Cseh overtook early leader Davis Tarwater to win in 1:51.18. Tarwater faded in the end but still broke an American record to finish second in 1:51.90 among the small five-swimmer field. Hungary’s Bence Biczo was third in 1:55.26. American Tyler Clary was forced to scratch from the meet with an inflamed left rotator cup. Clary will be forced to take time off to rehab which will affect his training.
Women’s 50-meter freestyle: With three great starts, European swimmers swept the event’s top four places. Marleen Veldhuis of the Netherlands won in 23.43 followed by Ranomi Kromowidjojo of the Netherlands in 23.61 and Britain’s Francesca Halsall in 23.73. Belarus’ Aliaksandra Herasimenia was fourth in 24.13. Hardy, Coughlin and Amanda Weir faded to the last three places.
Men’s 50-meter freestyle: American Nick Brunelli, who turns 30 on Sunday, won a close race at the end in 21.28. Russia’s Vladimir Morozov was second in 21.29 and Matt Grevers was third in 21.38. Only 6/10ths of a second separated the top eight swimmers.
Women’s 200-meter individual medley: Caitlin Leverenz pulled away from the field to win in 2:04.91, an American record and just 3/10ths off the world record. It was the fastest time in the world this year by two seconds. Liz Pelton was second in 2:07.27 and Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu was third in 2:07.64.
Men’s 200-meter individual medley: In an exciting race, world record holder Ryan Lochte built up a good lead and held on for his third win of the meet in 1:52.98, scoring 16 points overall for the U.S. Hungary’s Laszlo Cseh was second in 1:53.31 and Austria’s Markus Rogan was third in 1:53.93. “It’s my time, all the hard work and training I have been doing is paying off,” Lochte said.
Women’s 400-meter freestyle relay: Europe finishes the meet with its first relay win in 3:27.53, a world best. The time does not count as a world record since the swimmers (Jeanette Ottesen, Halsall, Herasimenia and Kromowidjojo) were from different countries. For the U.S., Coughlin led off and touched second. Hardy trailed by a half body length after her leg. Dana Vollmer, despite a great start, was still trailing when she touched. Missy Franklin took off with a poor start and was body length behind and had too much room to make up. Still, the U.S. finished second in an American record of 3:28.46.
Men’s 400-meter freestyle relay: Grevers gave the U.S. a slight lead (47.0) for second leg swimmer Garrett Weber-Gale who kept the U.S. close (46.9 leg), trailing by 5/100ths of a second. Third leg Nick Brunelli was still behind (47.0) when anchor leg Ricky Berens, after a great start, took unleashed a 46.1 split and pulled away for the U.S. to end the meet with a victory. “I had no idea where the guy (Europe anchor Krisztian Takacs) was,” Berens said. “I put my head down and kicked out and swam as fast as I could.”
Sharon Robb can be reached at email@example.com