It's a world of teammates | June 28, 2013 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Sports - June 28, 2013

It's a world of teammates

Stanford grads Johnson, Godsoe join senior DiRado on U.S. squad

by Keith Peters

BJ Johnson and Eugene Godsoe are teammates in every sense of the word. They both were members of the Stanford men's swim team only a few years ago. They are currently teammates on Stanford Pro Elite, a small group of Cardinal post-grads.

And now, Johnson and Godsoe are teammates on the U.S. team that will participate in the FINA World Championships, set for July 28-Aug. 4 in Barcelona, Spain.

Both earned summer trips with impressive efforts Wednesday at USA Swimming's Phillips 66 National Championships in Indianapolis, Ind.

Johnson is definitely the late-bloomer of the group. During his days at Stanford, Johnson failed to break into the all-time 15 in either of the breaststroke events before his graduation in 2009.

His bio on the USA Swimming web site is all of four lines, the highlight of which was a fifth-place finish at the national championships at Stanford in 2011.

He was sixth in the 200-meter breast at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials and 13th in the 100 breast. At age 26, one might wonder why Johnson is still swimming.

Well, Johnson showed why he's still very active in the pool as he earned a berth on the U.S. team headed for Barcelona.

Johnson, coached by Palo Alto Stanford Aquatics' coach Tony Batis and Stanford coach Ted Knapp, clocked a personal best of 2:10.09 — the No. 5 time in the world this year — while taking second in the men's 200 breast.

"If you had told me not breaking 2:10 and coming home in a 34 would get it done, I would have been surprised," Johnson said in a post-event interview. "The time might not be what I wanted to do, but I have a few more weeks to get better."

Johnson's previous lifetime best was 2:10.87 from the 2012 U.S. Open Championships. This latest effort gives him his first trip to the World Championships.

"He trained and prepared for this and had a great swimmer in (Kevin) Cordes to chase," said Batis.

Johnson's effort might have received a bit more attention, had it not been for the performance by Cordes. He made a serious run at the world record before winning for a world-leading time of 2:08.34.

Cordes, 19, was under Akihiro Yamaguchi's world-record pace at the 150-meter mark, but fell short of the 2:07.01 mark as he faded down the stretch. Still, it lowered Cordes' personal best of 2:09.16 from the morning prelims. The American record is 2:07.42 by Eric Shanteau in 2009.

Cordes is the American record holder in both the 100- and 200-yard breaststrokes, as well as the reigning NCAA champ in both events.

"I knew he'd be out on me," Johnson said of Cordes. "I thought I might have a chance to reel him in. I was feeling pretty good in the third 50 and thought I could get there before I started running out of gas. At that point, I wasn't worried about catching him, just holding on.

"I knew it was going to go fast if I stayed with him. I stayed close enough, I guess."

Johnson has continued to improve, thanks to a fairly busy schedule during the Grand Prix season.

"I've been getting a little better in the 200 breast every time I swim," he said. "Having a year-round cycle in long course meets helps a lot."

Still, Johnson has come a long way in just a short time.

"When I graduated in 2009, if you had told me I would be here, I wouldn't have believed you. Better late than never, I guess."

Making the improvement all the more impressive is the fact Johnson has managed to find time to train while currently pursuing his Ph.D. in engineering at Stanford.

"I'm lucky to be at Stanford, continuing my education and swimming," he said. "My adademic peers support me a lot, as do my swimming peers."

Godsoe, meanwhile, won the men's 50-meter butterfly in 23.29 to make his first international trip. The time ranks him No. 8 in the world.

"BJ and Eugene are two of the most thoughtful trainers I've ever known," Knapp said. "They truly value the process and take nothing for granted. Every moment serves a purpose."

In other finals Wednesday:

Stanford senior-to-be Maya DiRado was fifth in the women's 200 free in 1:58.41. She's already made the USA team in the 200 fly. Teammate Felicia Lee splashed and dashed to a fourth-place finish in the 50 fly in 26.54.

"Today was another good day of racing for us," Stanford women's head coach Greg Meehan said. "Maya DiRado will likely get to swim the 4x200 free relay in Barcelona with her fifth-place finish in the 200m free. Andi Murez and Felicia Lee continue to post best times in their events. We are pretty excited about our performances so far, and for what tomorrow has in store."

Stanford sophomore-to-be David Nolan was 11th in the men's 200 free in 1:49.49 after swimming a personal-best 1:48.87 in the prelims. Nolan's best event, the 200 IM, will be Saturday.

Sacred Heart Prep's Ally Howe of PASA was 14th in the women's 200 back (2:14.53) and 16th in the 50 fly (27.88) as she continued her busy schedule. Palo Alto High's Andrew Liang, another PASA swimmer, was 15th in the men's 50 fly in 24.65.

On Tuesday's opening day:

DiRado made her first significant U.S. National Team and qualified for her first FINA World Championships with a second-place finish in the women's 200-meter butterfly.

"We had a great day all around, but Maya's swim in the 200 fly was an amazing performance," Meehan said. "We haven't put a lot of focus into her fly, so with this result, we are really excited for her main events later this week."

DiRado's 2:09.12 was good enough to clear the FINA 'A' cut and earn a spot to compete for Team USA next month in Barcelona. Heading into this year, her best time in the event was 2:14.57, achieved at the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials.

What's more impressive is that DiRado, whose bread and butter is in the individual medley, qualified for the World Championships in her "extra event."

"This was my third 200 fly in two or three years," said DiRado, a rising senior for the Cardinal. "I just needed an event to swim today and there was nothing else for me to do."

Cammile Adams, a London Olympian, defended her title with the world's seventh-fastest time this year in 2:08.10.

DiRado's best events are the 400 IM (Thursday) and the 200 IM on Saturday's closing night.

Elsewhere in the 200 fly, Palo Alto High grad Jasmine Tosky of PASA was sixth in 2:11.29 in her best event. Howe was second in the C final in 2:11.96. That time ranked 12th overall.

In the only other race featuring a local finalist, Stanford grad Bobby Bollier faded from second to fourth in the men's 200 fly and missed earning a berth. He clocked 1:57.40 after clocking a 1:57.35 time in the prelims to lead the way.

Tom Luchsinger swam a personal best of 1:55.57 to win the 200 fly while Olympian Tyler Clary also made the World team with a second place of 1:56.58.

Stanford grad Chad La Tourette was fourth in the men's 1,500-meter free finals in 15:10.96.

Gunn grad Rachael Acker of PASA was 13th overall in the 100 free in 55.41, taking fifth in the B final.

Action continues through Saturday. For results from the final three days, go to