American Backstroke swimmer David Plummer obliterated the field in the 100 metres backstroke last night at Day 2 of the Arena Pro Series in Indianapolis. The 30-year-old veteran swam a lightening 52.40 to shoot right to the top of the world rankings in 2016. Whilst his American compatriot, Ryan Murphy, was beating the Australian World Champion Mitch Larkin on the West Coast in a time of 52.76, Plummer is showing he knows how to peak at exactly the right time with the USA Olympic trials only weeks away. Plummer has sent a message to the youngster Murphy (best time of 52.18 on a relay lead off) and Olympic Champion Matt Grevers (best time of 52.08) that they will have their work cut out if they wish to take the two Rio qualifying births instead of him.
The other stand out swim of Day 2 in Indianapolis came in the final of the Women’s 400 freestyle. Leah Smith, having already won the half distance the night before, cruised through the field to take the victory in 4.03.33. Not only was this yet another lifetime best for Smith, this puts her second in the world behind her team mate, the unparalleled Katie Ledecky, but more importantly makes her favourite to take the second spot behind her American team mate at the trials.
Over in California, where the other Arena Pro Swim Series is taking place in Santa Clara, the Day 2 finals session has also produced some fine results. Australian Olympic Silver Medallist Emily Seebhom showed her class by dipping once again under the much coveted 59 second barrier in the Women’s 100 Backstroke; touching the pad in a time of 58.96. Only two women other than Seebhom, Mie Nielson (58.73) and Katinka Hosszu (58.94), have gone faster this year.
California-Berkeley swimmer, Nathan Adrian, looked sharp in the 50 metre freestyle dash, stopping the clock on 21.68 putting him 4th in the World this year. The closest American to Adrian heading into the US trials is 35-year-old sprinter Anthony Ervin, however for a sprint event he is currently some way back on last night’s splash of 21.98. Conor Dwyer after an excellent performance in the 200 metres the night before, backed this up with an easy victory in the 400m freestyle final. His 3.46.09 puts him 8th in the world this year and top of the US rankings. Sun Yang pulled out of the final of the 400 unfortunately, but posted the second fastest time in the world this year in the morning heats (3.43.55). Only Australian Mack Horton has completed the eight lengths in a faster time in 2016, but to do this in the morning prelims on his own with no one around him is impressive from the Chinese freestyle specialist.
This weekend proves to be a very busy one for the swimming calendar. For many swimmers this is the last chance to try and prepare their bodies and minds the best they can for either the Olympic Games, or in the USA’s case their upcoming Olympic qualification meet. A host of swimmers, including Michael Phelps, have been racing this weekend at an Invitational meet in Austin, Texas and a number of the World’s elite, including Chad Le Clos and Katinka Hosszu, are competing in Monaco in the first leg of the Mare Nostrum Tour.
Phelps admitted he is lacking a bit of speed this weekend, coming off a big training stint at altitude, and uncharacteristically lost the 100m Butterfly to Singapore’s swimming star Joseph Schooling. Now ranked 7th in the World, Schooling’s time of 51.58 was just enough to beat the Olympic champion (51.65), who gave away too much of a lead over the first half of the race. Phelps also swam the 200 freestyle yesterday (Day 2), but was only able to manage a fourth place finish (1.48.73), which he was obviously very disappointed and frustrated about with little time to rectify.
The first day of the Mare Nostrum meet in Monaco yesterday was quite understandably a little slower than the US meets, as the Europeans or indeed the rest of the world are not gearing up for an imminent qualification meet. Their primary focus, now knowing their qualification fate, is the Olympic Games in Brazil and there is no need to therefore be racing at their fastest just yet. Having said this, it was business as usual for Katinka Hosszu, who put together impressive performances in the 400 IM (4.34.14) and 200 Backstroke (2.09.58), and narrowly losing a great race to Charlotte Bonnet in the 200 Freestyle (1.56.75 and 1.56.83 respectively). Chad Le Clos also looked strong when he typically beat the field from an outside lane in the 200 metres butterfly. His time of 1.54.80 puts the bearded Olympic Champion just outside the world’s top three but nevertheless things are starting to look ominous for his opposition.