McLaughlin 'back' after sizzling 200 free at Swim Meet of Champions


MISSION VIEJO There was no celebratory splash or fist pump from Katie McLaughlin. Even in the best of times, she mostly stays even-keeled. But moments after she finished first Saturday night at the TYR Fran Crippen Memorial Swim Meet of Champions, the cheers burst from the pool deck and the promising chatter began.

“I think that says she’s back,” Swim Pasadena coach Terry Stoddard said after McLaughlin captured the 200-meter freestyle in 1 minute, 59.74 seconds at the Marguerite Recreation Center.

The Mission Viejo Nadadores standout and Cal freshman flashed her trademark powerful kick in the final 75 meters to rally past USC’s Kirsten Vose (lifetime-best 2:00.07) and post the 10th fastest time by a U.S. woman this year.

For an 18-year-old who two fractured vertebrae in her neck in January, the victory was no small feat.

For a U.S. national team member headed to the U.S. Olympic Trials in two months, the time was significant. It was her 200 freestyle that placed her on the gold medal 800 free relay at last summer’s World Championships in Russia.

“She’s getting back to form,” said Dave Salo of Trojan Swim Club, who coached McLaughlin at Worlds.

In typical fashion, the Santa Margarita was low-key afterward.

“It’s definitely a step in the right direction but there’s a lot more to go,” McLaughlin said.

USC senior-to-be Michael Domagala, who races internationally for Poland, captured the men’s 200 free in 1:49.31, just over a second ahead of the Nadadores’ Grant Shoults (1:50.54).

National team sprinter Abbey Weitzeil of Canyons Aquatic and Utah-based Nick Soedel (Marina) took the 50 freestyles. Weitzeil, 19, won in 25.07 but set the pool and meet record in prelims with a 24.80, just off her 2016-best 24.72.

Olympian Jessica Hardy of Golden West placed third in 25.70.

Soedel, 22, touched in 22.77 to continue his recent surge. He took six months off last year but posted a 22.66 in mid-April in Mesa, Ariz.

“It’s right where I want to be right now,” Soedel said. “(I) was a little burnt out but after I finished my pre-requisites (for graduate school) I didn’t really have anything to do and I was ready to get back into it. I had that itch again.”

The Nadadores’ Samantha Shelton produced an exciting finish. In the consolation final of the 400 individual medley, the Santa Margarita sophomore rallied from fourth at the final turn to win in a lifetime-best 4:56.54.

Katie Glavinovich of the Aquazot and JSerra finished third in the 400 IM with a swift 4:52.49.

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