Kropp, Seo start strong

GLENDALE — A week of competing against the best competition in the country at the 2010 ConocoPhilips National Championships primed a pair of local swimmers for some big performances in the opening days of the 2010 Speedo Junior National Championships at William Woollett Aquatic Center in Irvine.

Recent Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy graduate and Rattler Swim Club member Andrea Kropp won the championship heat of the 200-meter breaststroke on Monday, while Crescenta Valley High freshman Young Tae Seo, who competes for Swim Pasadena, added to an already impressive meet showing by turning in a fifth-place finish in the championship heat of the 400-individual medley on Tuesday.

"It's a really competitive meet," Seo said. "A lot of people are dropping times."

Kropp, a CIF Southern Section Division I titlist in May and just two days removed from placing fifth in the same event on the final day of the National Championships at the same venue, swam to first place in the 200 breaststroke on Monday in a meet-record 2 minutes 28.70 seconds. The record she broke by .36 seconds belonged to defending champion Annie Zhu, who finished second behind Kropp in 2:30.36 on Monday.

The time was a 1.23-second drop from her preliminary time and just 1.07 seconds off her fifth-place time on Saturday, which landed her in the top-25 world rankings for the first time.

Seo made a small drop in time from the prelims in the 400 IM, where he had the fourth-best mark, to finish in 4:26.05 in the finals.

After finishing sixth in the championship heat of the 200 butterfly in 2:02.02 and 21st overall in the 200 breaststroke in 2:21.41 on Monday, Seo is off to quite a strong start in the meet and showing the versatility that won him a CIF and a Masters title in the 200 IM with the Falcons.

"I was trying to do better in the 400 IM," Seo said. "I've been training in that event for a year and I only dropped one second, so that's not good, but I liked my time for the 200 fly."

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