It only took a 2:01 to win the 200 breast last year. We’ve already had 3 swimmers put up faster swims this season and people haven’t even arrived at Knoxville yet. Are we in for a treat? Considering the 2 fastest returning swimmers aren’t among that group of 3 at 2:00, I’d say yes.
Ian Bakk of Kenyon was a bit of a surprise winner last year. It’s never a huge shock when KC tops the podium, but Bakk didn’t swim on any Kenyon relays, or even get in consideration and entered nationals with a 2:04. That’s a quality swim, but it’s a time that barely gets you to the meet this season. He dropped a couple seconds in prelims to make finals then dropped a couple more to win the event. He won it on the last 50 too, so if you see him hanging back a bit, don’t worry, his 31.2 finish was very impressive and may be the difference again this year.
None of the top 4 seeds nor the defending champion are graduating this year. This means the excitement gets to continue for another year. Among the excitement will be Vincent Pai. In the year of the suit, Vincent broke 2:00 from the consolation heat. He, however, was only wearing a standard sized speedo. I don’t know the fabric, but I was and still am impressed. Injuries have kept Vincent from hitting the mark again, but this year or the next may change that.
Sleeper: Pavel Buyanov. He was all the talk a couple years ago when he was battling Nelson Westby. He’s fallen off those times and not been back in form. Last year, he didn’t even final in this event but then went the 4th fastest time from the consolation heat. If he has a better morning swim, he cannot be overlooked.
Winner: Rory Buck. It doesn’t hurt that Rory follows us on twitter, but this isn’t a biased pick. He is my pick. He’s been swimming really well this year and had had 12 months to think about being outtouched last year.