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Killer Third Lap Gives Leverenz Last Laugh

Jun 28, 2012  - Craig Lord

US Olympic Trials, Omaha, day 4 Finals:

Women's 200m medley

A 36.79 breaststroke lap rang the death knell for the opponents of Caitlin Leverenz in the short medley won by the Teri-McKeever coached Cal ace in 2:10.22. The second berth went to world champion and record holder from Rome 2009 Ariana Kukors, on 2:11.30, the cruellest cut inflicted on half-way leader Elizabeth Pelton by 0.25sec.

Pelton set a blistering pace, on 27.71 on 'fly, and 59.98 after backstroke for an advantage of almost 2sec. Just a lap later and she was 1.23sec behind Leverenz, with Kukors having slashed back almost all of the deficit and ready to fight for the right to race for the US in London. No-one was about to catch Leverenz (who received her gold medal from medley legend Donna De Varona, Olympic champion and multiple world record holder in the 60s) but Kukors had the edge on Pelton for the thumbs up.

"I really wanted it," said Leverenz. "I was so happy after the 400m and so wanted a second event to do in London." Asked about McKeever's input and the support of the Cal team, she added: "Its everything. I can't say enough for the things that have helped me get to this position."

The splits compared:

  • 28.00; 1:01.70; 1:38.49; 2:10.22 Leverenz
  • 28.26; 1:01.86; 1:39.85; 2:11.30 Kukors
  • 27.71;   59.98; 1:39.72; 2:11.55 Pelton

Great race - and one that, in some ways like no other, continues to highlight the ludicrous buoy of shiny suits. Back in 2009, the 2:06.15 world mark set by Kukors was oft cited as among the three standards that would survive the return of swimming to swimmers longer than any other. It looked like the first guess may well turn out to be true some way down the line.