OMAHA, Neb. – Liz Braun
and Julia Kucherich
each posted positive times at the US Swimming Championships at the CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Neb., in the 200 backstroke to lead five University of Arkansas swimmers at the event on Saturday.
A trio of Razorbacks suited up for the 200 backstroke with Braun entered as the fastest swimmer among Razorbacks at 48th. Kucherich was 154th on the psych sheets while Anna Mayfield, a Razorback to be, was 147th. Braun did not disappoint in her trials debut as she finished the four-lap race in 2:16.02 to improve one spot from her qualifier and take 47th. Posting one of the fastest starts in the field at 0.60 seconds, Braun completed her first lap in 31.72 on her way to the finish.
Kucherich posted perhaps the largest improvement in the field as she jumped nearly 100 spots from 154 to a 69th-place finish. Entering the race with a seed time of 2:17.55, the junior-to-be opened with a sprint of 33.18 and closed strong with a negative split from her third lap at 34.33. Kucherich’s time is a career best in the event.
Also in her first Olympic Trials, Mayfield finished 173rd in the overall standings after a time of 2:22.63. Swimming at the largest event and in front of the biggest crowd of her career, the will-be freshman opened with a leg of 32.67 and looked good through 100 meters, but a tough second half of the race dashed her Olympic dreams for 2012.
In the 800 freestyle, Chelsea Franklin
and Nicole Menzel
each had solid efforts. Franklin, who has been battling an illness since her arrival in Omaha, clocked a time of 9:02.34 to claim 56th place. Franklin posted 100-meter splits of 1:04.39, 2:10.85, 3:18.23, 4:26.24, 5:34.66 and 7:53.21 as she was consistent in her effort despite not being 100 percent.
Menzel’s swim was very good in comparison to the field as she improved 11 spots from her seed to finish 41st overall in 8:57.33. Also, incredibly consistent, 12 of Menzel’s 16 laps were under 34 seconds including her final 50 meters where she clocked 33.04, her second fastest split of the race behind her opening of 31.66.
The Razorbacks have one more swimmer taking part in the Olympic Trials on Sunday, Susanna White
, who will take part in the loaded 50-meter freestyle, the fastest race in the competition and also one of the most populated as she is one of 164 athletes in the race.