Longhorn Aquatics teammates Nick Thoman (Cincinnati, Ohio) and Hayley McGregory (Houston, Texas) rattled the 100m backstroke world records at the US Open, posting times of 52.92 and 59.20.
Thoman's time is just 0,03sec off the global standard set by Olympic and world champion Aaron Peirsol at US Olympic trials, while McGregory, who set the world record in qualifiers at trials and them bombed out in the final, came up 0.23sec shy of Olympic and world champion Natalie Coughlin's global mark, also set at trials.
'That swim came out of nowhere,' Thoman said. 'I just wanted to go a best time. I felt great, so I just let it rip. I was lucky that I had some great guys to swim against. Without competition, you can't do anything. At trials I didn't swim my own race. I stayed in my own head here rather than get in everybody else's. The plan is to stick around for four years if my body allows it. I am just ecstatic. I am so excited.' He was a clog ahead of Masafumi Yamaguchi (JPN) and Matt Clay (GBR), on 53.94 and 54.22 respectively.
Thoman's effort is extraordinary: 22 this year, he clocked a 53.79 best at trials, off a 2007 high of 54.41. In 2006, he was a 54.90 swimmer and in 2005 had a best of 55.70. Now he is second fastest all-time and will watch events in Beijing on the box.
'It feels good to be swimming fast three weeks after Trials,' McGregory said, a couple of weeks after posting a 59.11sec world record before her disappointment in finals at trials. 'There is a lot less pressure here. I am proving some things to myself and am having a lot of fun.' Which tells the tale of these times: the champion is the one who can do it when the heat is on. Nonetheless, the mere fact that Thoman and McGregory can post such times knowing that the big international summer they had worked for is passing them by is a great credit to them and their coaches.
Behind McGregory came Aya Terakawa (JPN) and Lauren Rogers (Concord, Calif.), on 1:00.68 and 1:00.92, respectively.