I woke up this morning, took a deep inhale and sipped a cup of coffee. It was a new day, and I had watched a phenomenal night of swimming. I am going to try and provide you my best insight for what those of you at home may be missing here in Indianapolis. Here are my quick, random thoughts from the first night in Indy:
1. The Breakthrough: Mark Gangloff: It seems like everybody, Mark included, had been waiting for him to break a minute in this race for quite a while. He's come tantalizingly close a number of times, most recently at this summer's Charlotte Ultraswim. Although Eric Shanteau had sent the message he would be a strong competitor with his first time under a minute earlier that day, everyone expected at least a monster front half from Mr. Gangloff.
The crowd got what they wanted as Mark rocketed out to a 27.46. Still, he had over the last few years typically faded over the course of the second 50. Not tonight. I sheepishly admitted to Brett Hawke this morning that I thought Mark was going to tie up, but he pretty much didn't. Tonight, they've arranged a special time trial for Mark to go after Felipe Silva's 26.89 world record 50 breaststroke. I wouldn't bet against it.
2. Will America have a women's distance finalist? I'm not so sure after watching the 400 free last night. Allison Schmitt won in 4:06, a time that leaves America locked out of the world top ten with just two weeks until Rome. There is a gaping hole between the world's best performers, Brits Joanne Jackson and Rebecca Adlington plus Italian Federica Pelligrini all at 4:00. Katie Hoff, who was one stroke away from gold in this event in Beijing, continued what has been a rough summer, recording a 4:12 well off her best. Here's hoping Katie can turn it around, the US team will miss her all around depth.
3. Phelps Who? The 400 IM: Seriously, who would have thought that this event would be just as exciting without him? Tyler Clary has 100% arrived as a world class swimmer. He was knocking on the door last summer and blew it open with this long course swim. He led for 350 meters with a nearly Phelpsian front half. The crowd was on their feet for this entire swim. I got chills watching Ryan Lochte go into the final wall behind and emerge ahead. Great race
4. Speaking of Arrivals: Julia Smit! Ok, I know she was an Olympian last summer, but now she looks poised to fill some of the void Hoff left in this event and others. The 400 IM for women is setting up for a phenomenal race, with Smit looking significantly improved over last summer, Beisel with a much stronger 200 IM than in Omaha, and Knutson hanging around. Look forward to it.
Thats all for night one. If you're hanging out at the meet, please say hi! I'll be posting everything I can as the week goes on.