PALO ALTO, Calif. — Two days after the FINA World Championships in Shanghai, USA Swimming’s elite convened in Palo Alto, CA, for the 2011 ConocoPhillips National Championships. Former All-Mets and local swimmers churned out a number of notable performances at Stanford University’s Avery Aquatics Center.
SNOW’s Matt McLean takes title in 400 Free
With his victory in the 400-meter freestyle, Matt McLean of SNOW Swimming earned his first USA Swimming national title.
Stopping the clock at 3:47.33, McLean broke Tom Dolan’s 1996 Potomac Valley Swimming resident record. The former All-Met from Potomac Falls produced the second-fastest time in the event for an American this year.
McLean, 23, also re-broke his own resident record in the 200-meter freestyle, placing second to Olympic gold medalist Peter Vanderkaay.
McLean viewed Nationals as an opportunity to work on “process goals”—technical aspects and race details that he hopes to perfect in the final months leading to the 2012 Olympic Trials in Omaha.
“Any time that you’re able to compete at the highest levels and learn how to hone racing skills is a positive experience,” said McLean.
McLean has trained primarily with Coach Jon Urbanchek of Fullerton Aquatics Sports Team (FAST) in California this summer. But he continues to work with Mike Pliuskaitis of SNOW and Mark Bernardino of U-Va.
“I have three awesome coaches at my disposal,” said McLean. “They’re all able to provide me with their own unique perspectives and things I can focus on.”
Earlier this year as a senior for the University of Virginia, McLean won the 500-yard freestyle at the NCAA Division I Championships. He has qualified to represent Team USA at the 2011 World University Games in Shenzhen, China. The swimming events, which will be held August 14-19, will follow an Olympic prelims-semifinals-finals format.
“It should be a good platform for me to work on,” said McLean.
Conger breaks NAG record in 100 back
After winning the bonus final of the men’s 100-meter backstroke with a time of 55.09, RMSC’s Jack Conger had not quite clinched a 15-16 national age group record.
Conger had surpassed a mark set by a contemporary, Ryan Murphy of Jacksonville. As Conger climbed out of the pool, Murphy prepared to swim in the faster consolation final.
Murphy swam a personal best time, but Conger retained the record.
“I guess you can call us rivals, but he’s a good guy and went fast in this pool,” said Conger of Murphy.
Conger’s highest finish at the meet came in the 200-meter backstroke. Winning the consolation heat to place 11th overall, he turned in a time of 1:59.98.
Conger and teammate Sarah Haase will travel with USA Swimming’s national junior team to compete at FINA’s Junior World Championships in Lima, Peru. The meet will be the Good Counsel standouts’ second international competition. Conger and Haase swam on the National Club Swimming Association all-star team at the 2010 Irish Nationals in Dublin.
“I like the competitive atmosphere of international meets,” said Haase. “I like having people to push me and make me realize that I need to go faster and work harder during practice.”
Haase qualified for the team with a 20th-place finish in the 100-meter breaststroke (1:10.15).
Ed Moses satisfied with rate of progress
While Athens and Beijing Olympic gold medalist Brendan Hansen made headlines with multiple victories in his return to the national stage, another former breaststroke world record holder swam in a national championship for the first time in years.
At the 2000 Sydney Olympics, Curl-Burke swimmer and Lake Braddock graduate Ed Moses earned silver in the men’s 100-meter breaststroke and gold with the United States’ 4 x 100-meter medley relay team. But in 2004, Moses failed to make the Athens team and retired after he graduated from UVA months later.
Now, Moses, 31, seeks to return to his Olympic form as 2012 approaches.
At Nationals, Moses failed to qualify for the top heats in his specialties, placing 17th in the 100-meter breast and 16th in the 200-meter breast. Nevertheless, he is pleased with the rate at which he has progressed.
“I’m real satisfied with my training. My times here were pretty good,” said Moses.
Earlier this year, Moses joined Dave Salo’s Trojan Swim Club at USC. His training group includes 4-time Olympic gold medalist breaststroker Kosuke Kitajima and breaststroke American record holder Eric Shanteau.
“I went every morning long course, swimming hard with the best in the world. I got in there and mixed it up with them and got my butt kicked every day,” said Moses. “It’s something I wasn’t used to. I was used to being the best every day, every practice.”
Moses will have to drop a significant amount of time in Omaha to put himself in contention for an Olympic spot. Brendan Hansen, who won both breaststroke events in Palo Alto, swam 2.37 seconds faster than Moses in the 100 and 4.92 seconds faster in the 200.
Moses, nevertheless, remains unfazed.
“It’s obvious that I got a long, hard year in front of me,” said Moses. “It’s a big mountain, but I’m prepared. I’m ready for it.”
Less than 11 months remain before Olympic Trials. But Moses has a penchant for rapid improvement: in only two years, Moses progressed from 1998 second team All-Met swimmer to 2000 Olympic champion.
Curl-Burke’s Ellyn Baumgardner turned in the highest finish by a Potomac Valley woman with a third-place finish in the 100 breast. The University of Arizona NCAA finalist will represent the U.S. at the Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico….2008 All-Met swimmer of the year and 2011 NCAA champion Eric Friedland placed 2nd in the 200 breast and 8th in the 100 breast for Longhorn Aquatics….Michael Flach, a 2009 first team All-Met from Bishop O’Connell, placed 9th in the 200 fly en route to five Olympic Trials cuts….RMSC and U-Va. swimmer Brady Fox won the bonus final of the 200 back….Curl-Burke’s Joe Pascale earned his second Olympic Trials cut with a 50.69-second time trials swim in the 100 free….2009 All-Met swimmer of the year Amanda Kendall swam to a 7th-place finish in the 100 free….Curl-Burke’s women’s 400 medley relay broke an open age PVS resident record by 2.76 seconds. The team of Janet Hu, Ellyn Baumgardner, Kaitlin Pawlowicz and Katie Ledecky placed 12th with a time of 4:13.35.