The 50-Meter Freestyle event has not been kind to American women at the World Aquatics Championships of late.
The United States has not won a medal in that event at the World Championships since one-time Arizona Wildcat Amy Van Dyken did it back in 1998.
That was after she had transferred from being a Wildcat opting for the much closer to her Denver home Colorado State Rams.
This week Tucson Ford Aquatics will send a strong contingent of three swimmers into the 50 meter freestyle with hopes of sending one or more to Barcelona, Spain and ending this American losing streak that has now reached six World Championships (an event that is held every two years).
The favorite is still USC's Jessica Hardy, the only American to qualify for the Olympic Final where she placed seventh.
"She's just a wiry woman of speed," said Ford Aquatics' Christine Magnuson. "She's set herself apart on the U.S. stage so everyone is gunning for her."
Ford Aquatics though enters the event with three of the top six seed times, led by Tennessee grad Magnuson at 24.72 seconds, just .22 seconds behind Hardy.
UA juniors Margo Geer (25.05) and Kait Flederbach (25.10) are third and sixth respectively entering the World Champ Trials.
"As a sprinter all you have is the start, the breakout and the finish," said Magnuson. "If you mess one of those up you're not going to have a chance."
Magnuson says a lot of swimmers on the world stage have begun concentrating on the fifty (meter) strokes year round and competing in the FINA World Cup events.
That may be one of the reasons American female swimmers have slipped behind. Many do not compete in the World Cup events. The large majority of U.S. Swimmers are collegians and thus competing during the academic year for their universities.
"The Internet has really opened up training methodology around the world and people catch up that way," said Tucson Ford Aquatics Head Coach Eric Hansen. "But I honestly think our collegiate system is the thing that continues to enable us to stay ahead of the rest of the world."
American women may be struggling at 50-meters but the United States as a whole has won the overall medal count at the last five World Championships.
The 50-Meter Freestyle event will be held on Saturday at the World Champ Trials. The top two finishers earn spots to Barcelona.
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