Chesterton's Whitaker wraps up impressive national meet

2013-06-29T21:00:00Z 2013-08-21T23:27:41Z Chesterton's Whitaker wraps up impressive national meetPaul Oren Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
June 29, 2013 9:00 pm  • 

After a week that included three finals appearances and some improved times, Kyle Whitaker was plenty pleased with his performance at the Phillips 66 National Championships.

The Chesterton native followed up two strong races earlier in the week with a seventh-place finish in the 200 IM on Saturday, finishing behind Olympic Gold Medalist Ryan Lochte.

Whitaker touched the wall at 2:01.31, less than six seconds behind Lochte.

"It was a thrill to race against some of the best in the world," Whitaker said. "It's not every day that you get to swim against a Ryan Lochte."

While Lochte constantly takes the world (and media) by storm, Whitaker has long since gotten used to being around the reality television star. Whitaker has swam against both Lochte and Michael Phelps on numerous occasions and always relishes the opportunity.

"Just in watching their approach and what they do, it helps with strategy," Whitaker said. "Both of them do things differently with Michael having four pretty strong strokes and Ryan being a great specialist. Watching them helps me prepare for my race."

Whitaker qualified fifth for the 200 IM after the morning prelims (2:00.62).

"I'm extremely happy with how this event went," Whitaker said. "I didn't have the normal amount of rest coming in, but I still made the finals three times and shaved some time."

Whitaker will return to Ann Arbor before he leaves for Russia next month for the World University Games. The rising senior will again race in the 200 IM and is eager to represent the United States.

"I'm really looking forward to it," Whitaker said. "We'll head over there a week early and get acclimated to the time change and everything. It should be a great experience."

Elsewhere at the meet, Katie Ledecky broke one of the oldest national championship records, finishing the 1,500-meter freestyle in 15:47.15.

She beat 2012 Olympic teammate Chloe Sutton by 20.6 seconds and broke Janet Evans' 25-year-old long-course championship record by nearly 5seconds. It also was the fastest time in the world this year.

By winning the three longest events this week and finishing second in the 200 free, Ledecky has a chance to become the first American woman to compete in the 200, 400, 800 and 1,500 free at the world championships.

Three other Olympic gold medalists — Lochte in the men's 200 individual medley, Natalie Coughlin in the women's 50 free and Nathan Adrian in the men's 50 free — also won.

-- The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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