TYR Fran Crippen Swim Meet of Champions Preview
By Mike Gustafson//Correspondent
The TYR Fran Crippen Swim Meet of Champions (watch it live) kicks off this weekend in Mission Viejo, California from June 26-29. One of the fastest meets in the nation outside of the Arena Grand Prix series, this meet provides swimmers another tune-up before the Philips 66 National Championships in early August, as well as another opportunity to make qualifying times for summer season championship meets.
The TYR Fran Crippen Swim Meet of Champions is named after long distance and open water swimmer Fran Crippen, who passed away tragically in 2010 during the FINA World Cup.
Nearly 1000 swimmers are expected to participate over four days of competition, entering their final stages of training before tapering. Olympian Jessica Hardy is expected to compete in the sprint breaststroke events. Hardy, who trains locally at Trojan Swim Club, joins a variety of other Trojan swimmers expected to compete at Mission Viejo.
It’ll be interesting to see how Hardy does, especially with the Phillips 66 National Championships slated to begin in five weeks. There’s still enough time to tweak and make adjustments, train for a few weeks, then taper.
World Championship silver medalist David Plummer is also scheduled to take on the sprint backstroke events. Plummer, who has long trained in Minnetonka, established the meet and pool records in the 100m backstroke when he competed at this meet in 2011. He’ll have a race in the 100m back against 20-year-old Russell Wood, seeded two-hundredths ahead. Plummer, who may be the highest-profile male swimmer at the meet, will eye a Mutual of Omaha Pan Pacific Championships roster birth later this summer, four years after he burst onto the international swimming scene qualifying for the 2010 Mutual of Omaha Pan Pacific Championships.
Action begins tomorrow. While many eyes will be on swim veterans Hardy and Plummer, a host of other up-and-coming swimmers will compete. Kendyl Stewart, 19, is seeded first in the 200m backstroke ahead of both the meet and pool record. She’ll take on 20-year-old Brooklynn Snodgrass, another elite backstroker, in both backstroke distances.
On the women’s side, 16-year-old Katie McLaughlin is perhaps the youngest up-and-coming swimmer to keep an eye on. Though 11 years separate her and Jessica Hardy, they are seeded just a half-second apart in the 50m freestyle. McLaughlin is also seeded first in the 100m butterfly, ahead of Stewart, and first in the 200m butterfly.
On the men’s side, besides Plummer, Giles Smith could make some noise. The 22-year-old is seeded with a quick 52.72 in the 100m butterfly, ahead of Tom Shield’s meet and pool record. He’ll battle Seth Stubblefield in both the 100m fly and 100m freestyles. Michael Domagala is another name to watch. He’s cranked out some stellar age group times before, and his presence in the 100m butterfly makes that event one of the top events to watch this weekend.
You could argue that meets five or six weeks out from championship meets are often the most difficult to perform. Swimmers are broken down from long course training and doubles, and they still are embarking on a few more weeks of hard training before taper. The swimmers who can step up to the blocks this weekend and race are the ones to pay attention to – the ones who could have stellar, break-out performances later this summer at the Phillips 66 National Championships. And this is exactly what Fran Crippen would have wanted – nearly a thousand swimmers, all chasing personal best times, unrested, unshaved, competing just for the love of competition.
The TYR Fran Crippen Swim Meet of Champions will be broadcast LIVE on usaswimming.org. Finals begin June 26th at 5pm PDT with the women’s 800m freestyle and the men’s 1500m freestyle. Prelims and finals will take place Friday – Sunday at 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. PST respectively.