Shields turns on the speed at Swim Meet of Champions


 MISSION VIEJO Signs of hope for the upcoming U.S. Olympic Trials and beyond sprung from the pool Sunday but it was the swift current below the surface generated by Tom Shields that held the most promise.

The Cal Aquatics swimmer used a strong underwater surge off the turn to rally past teammate Justin Lynch to capture the 100-meter butterfly in a meet and pool record, highlighting the final day of the TYR Fran Crippen Memorial Swim Meet of Champions.

Shields touched in a 2016-best 52.15 seconds at the Marguerite Recreation Center to slice almost three-quarters of a second off Lynch’s meet and pool record from prelims.

The winning time keeps Shields, 24, ranked third in the United States this year, two-tenths behind leader Michael Phelps (51.94). But his underwater off the turn at the 50-meter mark showed how dangerous he could be at the Trials in two months in Omaha, Neb.

“Shields just blasted the underwater,” Golden West Swim Club coach Mark Schubert said of the former Edison standout. “He’s got such good underwater. That’s going to be a great race at the Trials with him and Phelps.”

Shields wanted to be faster but said his technique could have been better. The Berkeley-based swimmer also capped a whirlwind week that featured him traveling to New York for two days for an Olympic campaign for Kellogg’s.

“It was a good race,” Shields said of his duel with Lynch, 19, who touched in 52.43. “I had a good turn. It was definitely a positive.”

Shields said he is trying to approach his second Trials with confidence but with the work ethic and humbleness of an underdog. “I want to do the training I’ve put in justice,” he said.

Katie McLaughlin of the host Mission Viejo Nadadores capped her comeback meet from a neck injury by finishing third in the women’ 100 butterfly. She touched third behind Kendyl Stewart (58.84) and Aquazot 16-year-old Eva Merrell (59.79) with a 59.94, helping her earn the high-point award for the meet.

Cal sophomore-to-be Nick Norman (Capistrano Valley) flashed his potential by claiming the 800 free in 8:10.28. The 19-year-old is aiming to final in the 1,500 free at Trials.

Olympian Jessica Hardy of Golden West qualified first in the 100 breaststroke with a 1:09.09 during prelims but scratched the finals for rest, Schubert said.

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