George Haines Statue
Courtesy of: Catherine Ladd
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Commentary by Kayla Simon

SANTA CLARA, California, June 19. Day one of the final stop of the Arena Grand Prix Series is in the books! While there were only two events that took place during Thursday's finals session (the women's 1500m free and the men's 800m free), it was still a fantastic evening of swimming in the late afternoon sun in Santa Clara. The enjoyable evening definitely served up a nice appetizer to what will be three more days of great swimming here in Northern California.


LOTTE FRIIS SWIMS A SEASON BEST...AND THEN THE KATIE LEDECKY NEWS COMES OUT

Lotte Friis started off the finals session with an impressive swim in the first heat of the women's 1500 free, on her way to becoming the first winner of the 2014 Santa Clara Grand Prix. She began the race with a 29.87 split in the first 50 meters, and maintained a steady pace around the 32 second mark for the majority of the splits for the rest of the race. Her winning time of 16:00.35 may have not have been under the 16 minute mark that I heard mentioned as a goal for the race, but she looked very much in control the entire time, and the fact that she cut seven seconds off her previous best from the Charlotte Grand Prix was highly impressive. The training that NBAC has had over the past month at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs seems to be paying off!

The news about Katie Ledecky setting a new world record in the 1500, which was released not long after Lotte completed her heat, was definitely not lost on the crowd. Cheers could be heard throughout the complex, from spectators and swimmers alike.

CONNOR JAEGER VS. MICHAEL MCBROOM VS. RYAN COCHRANE

The race of the evening came in the first heat of the men's 800 free. Connor Jaeger went out the fastest in the first 50 meters at 27.95, but Ryan Cochrane caught up to him at the 100 and then led the race through 300 meters. At the 350-meter mark, another lead change took place, with Connor retaking the lead from Ryan. Michael McBroom, who was in third behind Connor and Ryan, began to close the gap between himself and Ryan, eventually taking over the second spot by the 500 meter mark. It seemed that Connor was on his way to posting the fastest time in the heat (and in the event overall), but Michael continued to move his way up, eventually overtaking the lead after 700 meters and maintaining it until the end. His winning time of 7:49.96 garnered him the third-fastest time in the world this year.

It's races like this one that make me excited for what will happen at Nationals in August!

LET'S GO BLUE!

If there was an award for the team that showed the most vocal support for their teammates at Thursday's finals, it would without a doubt go to the swimmers from Club Wolverine-Michigan. Their chant of "LET'S GO BLUE!" could be heard from all corners of the venue, and they could be seen down along the pool deck from beginning to end of every heat that featured one of their teammates. It's heartening to see that, because it really demonstrates the validity of the old saying, "There is no I in team." Keep up the spirit, Michigan!