By Sharon Robb
August 8, 2014—It didn’t take long for Elizabeth Beisel to bounce back with a vengeance at the Phillips 66 National Championships Friday in front of a packed house at the William Woollett Jr. Aquatics Center in Irvine, Calif.
Beisel, 21, of Bluefish Swim Club won the women’s 400-meter individual medley, her best event, in 4:32.98 to earn a spot on the Pan Pacific Championship team.
The University of Florida alum shook off the disappointment of her unexpected backstroke start slip on Thursday night to swim the world’s fourth fastest time this year. She pulled away on the backstroke leg and was under American record pace until the final 50 meters of the breaststroke but still managed to win by nearly a full body-length.
Stanford’s Maya DiRado, the defending champion in the event, took second in 4:35.75. St. Petersburg’s Melanie Margalis was third in a lifetime-best 4:37.84, dropping two seconds off her previous best. Former Clearwater swimmer Becca Mann, 16, already on the team in the open water event, was fourth in 4:41.44.
“I don’t think any 400 IMer ever feels good after the race, it felt pretty rough at end,” Beisel said. “I am definitely glad I made the Pan Pac team. The pressure is off now and I can enjoy the rest of the meet. By the time I touched the wall last night I was pretty much over the slip. I knew I had to move on and focus on the next race.”
Olympic great Michael Phelps made the Pac Pac team, but not exactly the way he had hoped. For the second time, his wall work did him in and was forced to settle for second, just 1/100ths behind winner Tom Shields.
Phelps, 29, of North Baltimore Aquatic Club, was long on the turn. He drifted into the wall and was seventh coming off the turn. It ended up costing him a few tenths in the final stretch.
Shields, 23, of Cal won in a best time 51.29, second fastest time in the world. Phelps finished in 51.30 and Tim Phillips, 23, of SwimMAC was third in 51.54. Ryan Lochte, 30, of SwimMAC was fifth in 52.21.
“This was really fun,” said an emotionally-charged Shields. “After prelims I was so stoked. This is a dream come true, I grew up watching these guys swim and to do this in front of a hometown crowd is great.”
In morning prelims, Phelps swam the fastest time in the world this year in 51.14.
“This has been my kind of event, the event I love swimming the most,” Phelps said after prelims. “When I have had my best races I have been 16 strokes out and 18 strokes back. This morning I was 16 out and 17 back.”
Also in prelims, Brendan McHugh, 24, of Greater Philadelphia Aquatics and Penn alum broke U.S. open and meet records in the 50-meter breaststroke in 27.10, sixth fastest time in the world rankings. The previous mark was 27.26.
McHugh had planned on retiring after breaking his arm after the 2012 Olympic Trials to focus on law school but returned to the pool while juggling law school.
McHugh came back in the final to knock off Kevin Cordes, 20, of Tucson Ford to win the national title in 27.24. Cordes was second in 27.33 and Zach Hayden of Club Wolverine was third in 27.69.
Marcus Titus, 28, of Tucson Ford, one of the top deaf swimmers in the world, qualified fourth in the breaststroke in 27.86 and finished fourth in the final in 27.76.
Bolles alum Ryan Murphy and his Cal-Berkeley teammate Jacob Pebley scratched from the “A” final of the 50-meter backstroke.
On Saturday from 4-6 p.m. EST, taped highlights of the meet will air on NBC. Check your local listings.
In other championship finals:
Men’s 400-meter individual medley: In the biggest surprise of the night, top-seeded Tyler Clary, 25, of SwimMAC won in a lifetime-best 4:09.51, second fastest time in the world this year. The Olympic gold medalist had already made the team in the backstroke.
Clary knocked off favorite and two-time NCAA champion Chase Kalisz, 20, of University of Georgia and North Baltimore Aquatic Club. Kalisz, the defending champion, tried to reel in Clary during the back half of the race. Both were tied going into the freestyle but Clary pulled away for a body length lead.
“That is the most painful race, you just have to put the pain out of your mind and swim,” Clary said. “I’m pretty happy with that swim. I knew what I had to do early in the race.”
Women’s 100-meter butterfly: For the second night in a row, Kendyl Stewart, 19, of North Coast Aquatics turned it on in the last 25 meters, to win her second national title in a best time 57.98. She won the 50 butterfly the night before. Favorite and top-seed Claire Donahue, 25, of Western Kentucky took it out fast with a 26.67 split, 3/10ths faster than she went in prelims, but got out-touched and finished second in 58.03. Felicia Lee, 22, of Stanford Swimming was third in 58.14.
“I am surprised and happy, it’s been since last summer since I went a best time,” Stewart said. “I really tried to keep my head down in the last 25 and stick the finish.”
Women’s 50-meter breaststroke: Jessica Hardy, 27, of Trojan Aquatics was first off the blocks and pulled ahead quickly for the win in a meet record 30.12 to qualify for the world championship team. Hardy showed no ill effects from a shoulder injury that is hampering her freestyle stroke. Breeja Larson, 22, of Aggies Swimming was second in 30.64 and Katie Meili, 23, of SwimMAC and clubmate Micah Lawrence, 24, tied for third in 31.00. Michigan-bound Emily Kopas, 18, of Swim Fort Lauderdale was second in the “C” final in 32.38 and finished 18th overall.
Women’s 50-meter backstroke: Cal Aquatics’ Rachel Bootsma, 20, despite hugging the lane line for the last half of the race, won in 28.35. Cheyenne Coffman, 25, of Fresno State Bulldogs was second in 28.42 and Olivia Smoliga, 19, of Athens Bulldogs was third in 28.49. “This morning I hit it four or five times,” Bootsma said of the lane line. “I was really close tonight. Racing outdoors for a backstroker is pretty challenging but we are making the best of it this week. It’s pretty much luck.” Michigan-bound Clara Smiddy of AquaKids Sharks won the “B” final and was ninth overall with a great finish in 28.95.
Men’s 50-meter backstroke: David Plummer, 28, of New York Athletic Club earned a trip to the world championships winning in 24.82. Only 15/100ths of a second separated the top three finishers. Nick Thoman, 28, of SwimMAC was second in 24.91 and Shane Ryan, 20, swimming unattached was third in 24.97.
Women’s 400-meter freestyle relay: North Baltimore Aquatic Club won in 8:01.75 with Becca Mann, Cierra Runge, Heidi Miller and Gillian Ryan. It was a national 16-18 age group record time. Sarasota YMCA was seventh in 8:21.70 with Ashlee Linn, Taylor Katz, Danielle Valley and Bethany Leap.
Florida State-bound Marc Rojas, 20, of South Florida Aquatic Club went 30.03 in the 50-meter breaststroke, the first of two events he is swimming. On Saturday, he swims the 100-meter breaststroke.
After Day Three, SwimMac Carolina continues to lead the men’s (240 points) and women’s team (247) standings. North Baltimore (176) is second among men’s teams and Cal Aquatics (212) is second among women’s teams.
The five-day meet is the USA National Team’s selection for the 2014 Pan Pacific Championships, 2014 Jr. Pan Pacific Championships, 2015 World Championships, 2015 World University Games and 2015 Pan American Games.
The next meet for swimmers to make a national team is the 2016 Olympic Trials.
Saturday’s events are 400-meter freestyle, 100-meter breaststroke, 100-meter backstroke and men’s and women’s 400-meter medley relay.
The television schedule for swimming this month is:
Saturday, Aug. 9, 4-6 p.m. EST, NBC (Taped), Phillips 66
Sunday, Aug. 10, 4-6 p.m. EST, NBC (Taped), Phillips 66
Sunday, Aug. 10, 11 p.m.-12 a.m., NBCSUN (Taped), Phillips 66
Saturday, Aug. 23, 2:30-3:30 p.m., NBC (Taped), Pan Pacs
Sunday, Aug. 24, 1-2:30 p.m., NBC (Taped), Pan Pacs
FLORIDA GOLD COAST/FLORIDA SWIMMING RESULTS
Women’s 400-meter individual medley: 3. Melanie Margalis, St. Petersburg 4:37.84, best time, 22. Lauren Driscoll, Swim Fort Lauderdale 4:51.08, best time, 26. Lindsey McKnight, Swim Fort Lauderdale 4:51.42, best time, 31. Shaun Casey, DBS 4:52.48, 45. Danielle Valley, SYS 4:57.72, 55. Hannah Burns, GSC 5:01.34, 56. Ashlee Linn, SYS 5:02.42.
Men’s 400-meter individual medley: 14. Carlos Omana, Metro Aquatics 4:21.92, 30. Sam Smiddy, AquaKids Sharks 4:24.85, 31. Adam Bull, Swim Fort Lauderdale 4:25.14, 33. William Silva, GSC 4:26.28, best time, 54. Brandon Goldman, Coral Springs Swim Club/LSU 4:30.51, 57. Ryan Rosenbaum, Swim Fort Lauderdale 4:30.95.
Women’s 100-meter butterfly: 53. Justine Bowker, T2 Aquatics 1:01.40.
Men’s 100-meter butterfly: 18. Connor Knight, North Palm Beach 53.19, best time, 60. Caeleb Dressel, Bolles 55.54.
Women’s 50-meter breaststroke: 18. Emily Kopas, Swim Fort Lauderdale 32.38, 51. Bethany Leap, SYS 33.40, best time.
Men’s 50-meter breaststroke: 64. Greg Penny, Westminster Academy 29.91, best time, 67. Alex Evdokimov, Coral Springs Swim Club 30.02, 68. Marc Rojas, South Florida Aquatic Club 30.03.
Women’s 50-meter backstroke: 9. Clara Smiddy, AquaKids Sharks 28.95, 35. Ashlee Linn, SYS 29.84, best time, 46. Tasija Karosas, Texas Aquatics/St. Andrew’s 30.15, best time, 56. Alyssa Yambor-Maul, ATAC 30.46, best time.
Men’s 50-meter backstroke: 6. Ryan Murphy, CAL 25.43, 28. Matt Curby, Blue Dolphins 26.47, best time, 37. Brandon Goldman, Coral Springs Swim Club/LSU, 26.80, best time.
Sharon Robb can be reached at email@example.com