Stanford swimmers have good shots at honors at U.S. Nationals


Julia Smit has never won two individual national titles in the same meet. Elaine Breeden has accomplished that, but not since 2005. And Chad La Tourette is still looking for his first national championship.

All three Stanford products will have the opportunity to accomplish something special and make some waves when they compete at the 2010 ConocoPhillips USA Swimming National Championships, which begin Tuesday in Irvine.

Smit and Breeden, both of whom just graduated from Stanford and live in Palo Alto, will be among the more than 30 U.S. Olympians competing next week. That group also includes Olympic gold medalists Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte, Aaron Peirsol, Natalie Coughlin and Rebecca Soni.

The meet, which will take place at the William Woollett Jr. Aquatics Center in Irvine, is one of the biggest swimming events of the year. The meet will serve as the selection meet for the 2010 Mutual of Omaha Pan Pacific Championships, which will take place in Irvine, August 18-22, and will feature top competitors from Japan, Australia, Canada and more than 20 other countries. Both the USA Nationals and the Pan Pacific Championships also will serve as the selection meets for the 2011 FINA World Championships in Shanghai, China.

The field in Irvine will be highly competitive,with the majority of the 2009-2010 U.S. National Swim Team competing. Olympic veterans Jason Lezak and Amanda Beard both will be back in the water as will Olympic medalists Matt Grevers, Katie Hoff, Dana Vollmer, Cullen Jones, Margaret Hoelzer, Christine Magnuson, Peter Vanderkaay and Garrett Weber-Gale.

Smit comes in as the No. 2 seed in both the 200 IM (2:09.34) and 400 IM (4:35.33), her personal bests from 2009, in addition to being the No. 4 seed in the 100 free (54.25). Breeden is No. 3 in the 100 fly (57.46) and No. 3 in the 200 fly (2:07.40) while La Tourette is No. 1 in the 1,500 free (14:53.77) and No. 3 in the 400 free (3:46.93).

All three stand a very good chance of finishing among the top two in their specialties and qualifying for the Pan Pacs in addition to other international meets both this year and next. Smit and Breeden also could earn relay berths, with Smit having the best chance there with her fast time in the 100 free. Both swam on relays at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and earned medals.

Other top seeds from Stanford include Kate Dwelley (No. 8 in 100 fly and 200 free), Bobby Bollier (No. 3 in 200 fly, No. 8 in 100 fly), Curtis Lovelace (No. 3 in 200 breast), Sabir Muhammad (No. 7 in 50 free), Kelsey Ditto (No. 7 in 800 free), John Criste (No. 7 in 200 breast) and Elizabeth Smith (No. 5 in 200 breast).

The National Championships will follow the traditional meet schedule of morning prelims (9 a.m.) and evening finals (6 p.m).

The competition will be broadcast by NBC on Aug. 7 (1-3 p.m. PDT) and Aug. 8 (1:30-3 p.m.) In addition, Universal Sports will broadcast finals live on Aug. 3 (6-8:30 p.m.) and Aug. 4 (6-8 p.m.).

The meet also will be webcast live by throughout the duration of the competition.

-- Keith Peters

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