Nicholas Caldwell
Speedo Champions Series editorial coverage this summer is proudly sponsored by SpeedoUSA. For all the latest coverage from sectionals this summer, check out our Summer of Speedo page.

By Elle Meinholz

MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota, July 17. THE Minneapolis stop of the Speedo Champions Series of sectionals got off to a great start today with a lot of impressive swims. Plenty of young talented swimmers put on a show, and quite a few personal bests went on the board on the first night. The performances in Wednesday's finals are a good indicator that the rest of this meet will be fast and exciting.

In a tight race in the women's 100 meter freestyle, 17-year old Mary Schneider won the event with a personal best by 3 tenths in 56.16. Ivy Martin, the Big Ten champion in the women's 50 freestyle, came in second by .05 in 56.21. A dominant 50 freestyler who recently competed for a spot on the United States World Championship team, Martin is really growing and becoming a force to be reckoned with in this 100 free. Despite being seeded first going in to finals, Wisconsin Aquatic's Aja Van Hout came in third, less than two tenths behind Schneider with a 56.34.

The top three finishers in the men's 100 meter freestyle all saw best times. Connor Black from CATS Aquatic Team took the top spot with a best time of 50.70. In a close second, Wisconsin Aquatics' Damon Zito posted a lifetime best time of 51.41, dropping 1.2 seconds, a tough thing to do in a sprint race like the 100. Minnesota's Danny Brebrick followed close behind Black and Zito with a personal best of 52.09.

Another Wisconsin Aquatics swimmer Anna Meinholz stepped up to win the women's 200 meter breaststroke in 2:32.15. Meinholz, who is currently in the midst of taper, went a best time in the morning by more than two seconds. She added a little time at night, but still walked away with an impressive win ahead of 2013 Big Ten Champion Haley Spencer. Spencer, of Minnesota went a 2:33.00, a couple seconds off her best, but a good place to be at this time of year. Third place in the event went to 15-year old Katherine Drabot of Ozaukee Aquatics in Wisconsin with a 2:34.45. At such a young age, Drabot has continued to demonstrate her potential as an up and coming star.

First place in the men's 200 meter breaststroke went to Wisconsin Aquatics as well. Nick Schafer, who recently competed for a spot of the Australian World Championship team, won the event with a time of 2.17.11, a couple of seconds off his best time, but a solid swim for right now. Teammate and training partner John Bushman took second behind Schafer with a 2:18.69. Third place in the event went to Van Donkersgoed from WILD in Illinois with a 2:19.22. Donkersgoed gave an impressive performance dropping almost two seconds from his best time.

Gia Dalesandro, an incoming freshman at the Indiana University, gave an outstanding performance in the women's 200 meter butterfly with a 2:14.33. This morning Dalesandro dropped almost five seconds from her best time with a 2:17.62, and then proceeded to drop another three seconds at night for a victory and a total time drop of more than seven seconds. Close behind was second place Hannah Kastigar, who also went a best time by two seconds with a 2:14.62. The top two girls were followed by Christie Clarke of Minnesota, who won third place in 2:19.92.

The race for the victory in the men's 200 meter fly was a close one, with first and second place separated by four one-hundredths. Matthew Conway just touched out Connor Black, the sectional's 100 free champion, 2:02.39 to 2:02.43. Not far behind was Minnesota's own Alejandro Cisneros with a 2:03.87 for third.

A lot of young talent showed up in the women's 800 meter freestyle, as both first and third place were claimed by 15 year olds. Hannah Boyd of BNY in Illinois went a lifetime best by more than 10 seconds, walking away with a victory in 8:54.47. Third place 15-year old Kirsten Jacobsen dropped more than 27 seconds and just missed breaking that 9-minute barrier with a 9:00.09. Second place Morgan Dickson also went a best time with an 8:55.27.

The meet wrapped up with the men's 800 meter freestyle where Nick Caldwell won with a time of 8:19.29. Caldwell, although competing unattached, is currently training with Wisconsin Aquatics and attending the University of Wisconsin in the fall. Second place went to Joe Szczupakiewicz from SWAT in Wisconsin. Szczupakiewicz was right on his best time with an 8:26.94. Going a best time by more than eight seconds, Michael Wolfe of BNY in Illinois earned himself a respectable third place in 8:32.33.

Results: Speedo Champions Series, Minneapolis: Day One