Olympic year is here and at the Austin GP in the US, Allison Schmitt, Michael Phelps, Rebecca Soni, Eric Shanteau, Dana Vollmer, Brits Jemma Lowe and Jazmin Carlin and Nathan Adrian put in solid performances, Schmitt's 4:05.90 win over 400m free a pool record at the helm of the first wave of tests on the way to trials and tickets to London 2012 deeper into the season.
Schmitt's time broke the 1988 pool mark set at US Olympic Trials by the girl who would become triple champion that year, Janet Evans. The legend is back - and turned in a 4:17.27 effort in heats at the age of 40. The race was a fair bit ahead, Schmitt followed home in the final by a swimmer coached by Evans's mentor Bud McAllister, Great Britain’s Carlin, on 4:07.89, with Chloe Sutton third in 4:10.66. Evans clocked 4:18.15 in the B final.
Schmitt was back in later to take third in the 100m free in 54.55, the win going to Amanda Weir, on 54.14, ahead of Missy Franklin, 54.46.
Carlin's training partner Jemma Lowe pressed world champion Dana Vollmer in the 100m 'fly, the American hanging on for a 58.02 win over 58.16 for the visitor, with Natalie Coughlin on 59.22. Schmitt's Baltimore teammate Phelps clocked 52.41 to win the 100m 'fly ahead of Tyler McGill, on 52.96, and Davis Tarwater, on 53.30.
Olympic and world champion Soni was a class apart once more in the 200m breaststroke, her 2:22.73 leaving the rest trailing, second going to Micha Lawrence, on 2:27.66, third to Katlin Freeman, on 2:27.94. The men's equivalent saw Shanteau lay down a weighty 2:10.72 marker for victory over Ukraine’s Valerii Dymo, 2:12.53, and Great Britain’s Richard Webb, 2:13.51.
The men’s 100m free ended with Adrian as the sole sub-49er, his 48.97 keeping at bay Ricky Berens, 49.13, Gideon Louw, 49.19, and a field that included 2000 joint Olympic 50m champion on the comeback trail Anthony Ervin.
The 400m free went to Canada’s Ryan Cochrane in 3:50.66, ahead of Michael Klueh, on 3:51.23, and Charlie Houchin, on 3:51.77.