By Rick Eymer
Palo Alto Online Sports
Bobby Bollier just wanted to have fun Wednesday. He laughed about his 200 free, which he swam a second slower than usual earlier and finished 18th overall. Then he came back in the 200 fly and won a national title with a time of 1:56.54.
The Stanford women's 400-meter free relay team ended the day on a successful note. The 'A' group of sophomore Felicia Lee, grad Kate Dwelley, senior Samantha Woodward and grad Julia Smit clocked a 3:40.31 to set a championship record in the event.
Along with selecting the year's USA Swimming national champions, the championships are serving as the selection meet for the 2011 Pan American Games, set for October 15-22 in Guadalajara, Mexico, and the 2011 FINA World Junior Championships, set for August 16-21 in Lima, Peru.
Bollier had his sights on the World University Games later this month in Shenzhen, China, not the ConocoPhillips USA Swimming National Championships being contested at Stanford this week. There he was, though, in lane 10 finishing fast and touching first in the biggest American race of the year.
"I heard a lot of noise and just wanted to catch up," Bollier said. "I could only see the guy next to me so I just wanted to swim my own race."
Bollier wanted to win the race, but didn't expect to win. Without Michael Phelps in the field, it became anybody's race. He just barely qualified for the final spot of the championship final but he took full advantage of the opportunity.
"It's motivation because you saw how close the field was," Bollier said. "That tells me I need to keep working. Phelps probably has the first- place spot secured. The second-place spot (at next summer's Olympic Trials) is wide open."
Stanford men's swim coach Skip Kenney was there to watch Bollier's race and was mildly surprised. He said Bollier wasn't rested enough because of his training for the World University Games.
"I wouldn't have been upset if I didn't win or make the Pan Am team," Bollier said. "My focus is really on the Olympic trials. In the 200 free I was tired and didn't feel good so I didn't want the pressure of the fly to get to me. I made sure to laugh while getting ready."
Bollier's winning time wasn't far off what Phelps swam (1:56.00) to win last year's national title in Irvine. Bollier was fourth in that race in 1:57.37, thus has made some significant improvement.
David Mosko, who learned he is getting a fifth year at Stanford recently, finished seventh in 1:59.62.
"I love being part of the team," said Mosko, who missed most of his senior season due to shoulder surgery. "So it's huge for me to get another shot. The shoulder is 100 percent, just a little weak. All I need to do is get it back in shape."
Stanford grad Eugene Godsoe finished fifth in the 100 back, swimming 54.34 with his new club team in South Carolina.
"I had a successful senior season at Stanford and that set me up for postgraduate training," Godsoe said. "It's much easier to focus on swimming when there is no school work. It's hard to leave Stanford because it's the best place on earth, but I needed new coaches and a new environment. Everything I'm doing is leading to next year."
Also in the 100 back, Stanford freshman David Nolan was 14th in 55.21, Cardinal junior Matt Thompson was 23rd in 55.63 and PASA's Nick Trowbridge was 24th in 56.21.
In the 200 fly
Stanford senior Morgan Priestley went 1:49.72 to finish 13th overall in the 200 free while Bollier went 1:51.42 to place 18th. Peter Vanderkaay won the event in 1:46.45
Dwelley was the first alternate after preliminaries were completed through the morning, but made the 'C' final and took advantage of the second chance, swimming the third-fastest time of the day (1:59.13) to win her final.
Stanford's Maya Dirado was 12th overall in 1:59.13 while Palo Alto High senior Jasmine Tosky was 13th in 2:00.48.
"I was having a rough warmup, I didn't feel good and I was disappointed about the morning session," Dwelley said. "I watched the men's 200 free and decided I didn't have anything to lose. I would have been upset with my time as a teenager, so why should I settle that for now?"
She turned her disappointment into determination and swam her best time without the banned high- tech swimsuits.
"It sets me up for next year," she said.
Dwelley also enjoyed swimming on a relay team with Smit and fellow Stanford teammates again.
"It's sad I won't be able to compete for Stanford next year," Dwelley said. "It's something Julia, Elaine (Breeden) and I loved doing."
Breeden swam the anchor leg on the Stanford 'B' free relay team that finished fifth overall with a time of 3:44.38. She was joined by DiRado, Elizabeth Webb and Andi Murez.
The Palo Alto Stanford Aquatics relay team of Maddie Schaefer, who will be attending Stanford in the fall, Rachael Acker, Julia Ama and Tosky finished eighth in 3:45.65.
The PASA 'B' team of Ally Howe, Alicia Grima, Haley Sims (an incoming Stanford freshman) and Camille Cheng finished 11th in 3:48.43.
Webb finished 15th overall in the 100 back with a time of 1:02.07. The event was won by 16-year-old Missy Franklin with a 59.18, less than 3/10ths of a second off Natalie Coughlin's American record of 58.94.
Stanford's Lee was 26th in 1:02.55 and PASA's Howe went 1:04.22 to finish 30th.
2011 CONOCOPHILLIPS NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS
At Avery Aquatic Center, Stanford
(Prelims at 9 a.m., finals at 6 p.m.)
THURSDAY, AUG. 4
Women's 100 breaststroke
Men's 100 butterfly
Women's 50 freestyle
Men's 50 freestyle
Women's 400 IM
Women's 800 freestyle relay
FRIDAY, AUG. 5
Men's 100 freestyle
Women's 200 butterfly
Men's 200 IM
Women's 200 backstroke
Women's 800 free (heats)
Men's 1500 free (heats)
Men's 800 freestyle relay
SATURDAY, AUG. 6
Women's 800 free (final)
Women's 100 freestyle
Men's 200 backstroke
Women's 200 breaststroke
Men's 200 breaststroke
Men's 1500 free (final)
Women's 400 medley relay
Men's 400 medley relay