By Esther Sun
Held at Stanford’s Avery Aquatic Center from July 31 to Aug. 4, the Phillips 66 U.S. National Championships featured exciting performances from Stanford swimmers, the rise of fresh-faced, younger swimmers, a high-profile departure from swimming and a return to it.
Among the numerous athletes vying for titles at the event, 30 were from the Stanford’s Alto Swim Club.
Brooke Forde ’21, who had just returned from the 2019 FINA World Championships in Gwangju, South Korea, took second place in the women’s 400 meter IM, one of the most highlighted and also most grueling races in swimming, with a time of 4:36.06. She also won third place in the women’s 200 meter freestyle on Aug. 1.
“I’m really pleased with my performance at Nationals,” Forde told The Daily. “It was tough swimming right after Worlds and international travel, but I just focused on enjoying racing and being with my teammates. I was able to improve my time from Worlds, and in the future I just hope to carry this competitiveness with me to even bigger meets.”
Forde completed the women’s 400 meter IM in 4:39.74 at Worlds, landing her ninth place. Three days after the conclusion of Worlds, Nationals began, bringing Forde and other American swimmers back to California to compete.
“I loved having Nationals at our home pool,” Forde said. “It’s really fun having my swimming friends from all around the country come to Stanford, and our amazing facilities are perfect for hosting an exciting meet. I do feel a sense of comfort racing in the same pool I get to train in every day.”
Among other Stanford swimmers, Daniel Roy ’22 placed second in the men’s 200 meter breaststroke with a time of 2:10.01. Katie Drabot ’20 placed seventh in the women’s 200 meter butterfly and seventh again in the women’s 100 meter butterfly, and Lauren Pitzer ’21 placed sixth in the women’s 400 meter free.
Some other highlights of the meet were the victory of high school senior Emma Weyant, 17, who beat her best time by more than five seconds in the women’s 400 meter IM to take first place and win her first national title, as well as Kelsi Dahlia’s win in the women’s 100 meter butterfly, her fourth consecutive national title in that event.
“I think that [IM] is a lot of fun,” said Weyant to members of the media after her race. “When I was younger I was more of a distance swimmer, so I think my endurance was pretty good, and I really like training IM because there’s always something different going on.”
In addition to the rise of younger swimmers like Weyant, eyes were focused on several older contenders who competed at Nationals. Seven-time Olympic medalist Dana Vollmer, who announced her retirement last Monday, swam her last race on Aug. 2.
Now 31 years old, Vollmer was the first woman in history to swim the 100 meter butterfly in under 56 seconds, and she also broke world records at the 2004 Olympics in Athens and the 2012 Olympics in London. Vollmer placed 32nd in her 100 meter butterfly preliminary with a time of 59.94.
When asked how she felt about swimming her last race, Vollmer said, “There’s things that you take for granted when you’re focused on the nerves or preparation or taking off pressures … To walk up behind the blocks and remember the nerves in my stomach and how I shake out and getting on the blocks and just knowing that it’s your last one and being able to absorb all of that was a really special moment.”
In the wake of Vollmer’s final swim, fans also saw the return of 12-time Olympic medalist Ryan Lochte, who was banned by USA Swimming last year after he posted an Instagram photo depicting himself receiving an illegal intravenous infusion.
On Aug. 4 Lochte won his 27th national title with the men’s 200 meter IM, clocking a time of 1:57.76 for first place.
Contact Esther Sun at sune2696 ‘at’ lgsstudent.org.