The 5 Best Performances from this Summer
By Mike Gustafson//Correspondent
The waves have settled. The competition pool has calmed. Swimmers have taken breaks and are just now returning to training. As we collect our breaths and reset for what should be a fantastic 2013-2014 swimming season, we reflect on the summer that has now ended…
It’s too bad there are no annual Olympics. 40 years from now, this summer’s performances won’t necessarily be forgotten, but they’ll take a memory backseat when compared and contrasted to the 2012 and 2016 Olympics. Still, there were incredible athletic feats from Team USA this past long course season. As we gear up for the upcoming short course swimming season, here are 5 of the best performances from this past summer…
1. Katie Ledecky’s 800m free
Duh. This one’s a no-brainer. “Legendary Ledecky” went undefeated at the World Championships. Get this factoid: At just 16-years-old, Ledecky has never lost at the Olympics or the World Championships. Her 800 freestyle was the crown jewel of a week-long domination. She snapped the world record that she just missed in London and proved to the world that her 2012 Olympic performance was no fluke. She’s not a one-trick pony, either. Ledecky conquered the 1500 and the 400 (as well as swimming on the 800 free relay). But this 800 free will always stand out as the race of the summer. If there’s one fact to remember from this summer, it’s this: Katie Ledecky’s 800m freestyle was faster than the 15-16 NAG record in the 800m freestyle RELAY. That’s incredible.
2. Megan Romano’s 100m freestyle anchor leg
“Romano’d.” That’s the new word used around the swimming world to describe how Megan Romano conjured her best “Jason Lezak impression” and ran down Team Australia in the 400 freestyle relay. Megan Romano was absolutely lights-out on this relay, splitting 52.60 and solidifying herself as Lezak 2.0. She’s probably the most exciting relay swimmer in America.
3. Justin Lynch’s 100m fly
What a summer for male U.S. teenagers: Caeleb Dressel swims lights-out in the sprint freestyles, perhaps becoming the best teenage free sprinter in U.S. history, and Ryan Murphy put up some incredible backstroke times. But I’m picking Justin Lynch’s 100m fly as the best performance of the summer for U.S. teenage males. His 52.75 broke Michael Phelps’ 100m butterfly National Age Group Record. It also would have won the 2000 Olympic Trials (and defeated the legendary Ian Crocker in the process). This performance is so important because the 100 butterfly event is wide open. Michael Phelps is retired. 16-year-old Justin Lynch could carry the torch to Rio. He’s got some improvements to make and must begin to qualify for some international teams, but 52.75 as a 16-year-old? That’s a short course time in a long course pool.
4. Missy Franklin’s entire Worlds
You can’t forget about Missy The Missile. She became the winningest U.S. female swimmer in a single World Championships. Her entire Worlds performance was a display of mental fortitude and peak physical conditioning. It’s not easy to win one event, let alone multiple events. Franklin bounced back from being America’s Golden Girl in London and maintained her level of excellence during a chaotic senior year of high school. Now Franklin heads to Cal to train with swim guru Teri McKeever. It would be hard to top this summer, but if anyone can do it, it’s Missy Franklin.
5. David Plummer’s 100m back
The men’s 100m backstroke is a great example why swimming needs to be able to send 3 athletes per country to the Olympics. Last summer, Plummer barely missed an Olympic roster spot, though he would have definitely been in the hunt for a medal. After the Trials, Plummer took time off, returned to the pool, got onto the World Championship team, and earned himself a World Championship silver. What a year. What a bounce back. Matt Grevers won the event, giving the USA another 1-2 finish in the men’s sprint backstroke. This event will be one of the most exciting at the 2016 Olympic Trials. Momentum for those Trials has already begun.