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ORLANDO, Florida, February 13. RYAN Lochte having to miss at least the first two days of action at the Arena Grand Prix in Orlando due to the massive snowstorm that hit the East Coast really dampened the mood in Florida this morning.
The Iron Lady Katinka Hosszu, however, did what she had to do to lighten it up a bit as she slashed through a pair of meet records. Hosszu, who usually enters every event at in-season meets, with up to 18 events in two days, has a bit easier of a schedule this week with just seven events being allowed throughout three days. So, hoping for more of a workout, she's taking the mindset that prelims are timed finals and is sprinting every single swim. That means prelim fans are in for some sizzling swims.
Women's 200 free
The Iron Lady Katinka Hosszu made her mark early in Orlando, taking down a meet record in her first swim of the day. She blazed her way to a 1:57.60 this morning, crushing the rest of the preliminary qualifiers. That swim eclipsed Missy Franklin's meet mark of 1:58.01 from a year ago, and put her into the top five in the world so far this year. That's pretty impressive considering Hosszu is entered with a 1:56.73 and will be fairly rested since she is event-limited here on the Grand Prix circuit. Instead of her typical enter everything setup, she's going to have a relatively easier schedule.
Agnes Mutina qualified second as part of a serious Hungarian presence in the top eight qualifiers. Mutina posted a time of 2:01.42 for second overall, while Evelyn Verraszto picked up sixth overall for the Hungarians with a 2:03.18.
IX3's Chloe Sutton, one of the many swimmers here who had to battle travel issues due to the snow storm that engulfed the East Coast, wound up pushing her way to a third-place 2:02.09. Rockwood's Jordan Stout, 16, nearly clocked a lifetime best with a fourth-place 2:02.89, just off her 2:02.58 from last summer, while York's Courtney Harnish finished fifth overall in 2:03.07 as a 14 year old.
Elizabeth Simmonds raced her way to seventh overall in 2:03.31, while overall Grand Prix series leader Megan Romano put herself in play for some potential valuable podium points with an eighth-place 2:03.53. Romano currently leads all female swimmers for the top prize of a BMW one-year lease.
Men's 200 free
The return of Olympic superstar Ryan Lochte, which we broke shortly before his originally planned return date in Austin, was supposed to have occurred this morning with Lochte overcoming a knee injury sustained with a fan incident late last year.
However, Lochte will be keeping his huge fan following waiting after weather issues canceled his flight forcing him to get into town a bit later than originally planned.
With Lochte out, the door is wide open for someone to put up a strong time, and the top eight certainly have the ability to do so.
Germany's Yannick Lebherz raced his way to the top of the heap with a 1:50.31, while Dion Dreesens turned in a 1:50.54 to qualify second. Darian Townsend rounded out the top three in 1:51.52.
Club Wolverine's Tyler Clary snared the fourth seed in the A final with a 1:51.58, while Ryan Cochrane touched fifth in 1:51.59. The Woodlands' Michael McBroom (1:51.98), Wisconsin's Michael Weiss (1:52.10) and Alec Page (1:52.25) also made their way into what proved to be an incredibly international field.
Women's 100 breast
Although SoFlo and BlueFish topped qualifying, the women's 100 breaststroke championship finale is nearly a SwimMAC versus T2 dual meet setup with those two teams putting plenty of swimmers into the top eight.
SoFlo's Alia Atkinson led the field with a 1:09.11 that already ranks her ninth in the world this year, but look for the Jamaican to make a run into the 1:07s and 1:08s that fill up the top five in the world. BlueFish's Laura Sogar, who currently stands second in the world with a 1:07.76 from the Austin stop of the Arena Grand Prix, qualified second in 1:09.38.
SwimMAC's Micah Lawrence turned in a 1:09.41 to lead teammate Katie Meili (1:09.59) into third and fourth-place seeds heading into the finale. T2's Justine Mueller (1:12.00) and Ashley Wolter (1:12.81) wound up qualifying fifth and seventh.
Bolles' Valentina Artemyeva picked up sixth overall in 1:12.53, while Hungary's Fanni Ferenczi is the youngest of a veteran-laden field with an eight-place 1:12.88 as a 17 year old.
Men's 100 breast
Trojan's Mike Alexandrov, who already is the top American in the world this year with an eighth-ranked 1:01.38 from the Austin stop, will be looking for more this evening after checking in with a 1:02.79 here in Orlando. He will have his hands full as the rest of the top eight is stocked with proven performers.
Felipe Lima, ninth in the world with a 1:01.47 from Perth, took second this morning in 1:03.00, while Tennessee's Brad Craig snared third overall in 1:03.25. Alexandrov's teammate Azad Al-Barazi picked up fourth in the morning with a 1:03.33, while Club Wolverine's Zach Hayden qualified fifth in 1:03.64.
Tucson Ford's Marcus Titus, one of the top deaf swimmers in the world, made his way into the finale with a sixth-place 1:03.80, while PCSC's Matt Ackman checked in seventh with a 1:03.86. Grand Canyon's Eetu Karvonen rounded out the championship heat with an eighth-place 1:04.04.
Michael Andrew, the 14-year-old professional homeschooled and hometrained swimmer, qualified 13th overall with a 1:04.86. He will be looking to take down his 13-14 U.S. National Age Group record of 1:03.83 set in Austin just a month ago.
Women's 100 fly
The second meet record of the morning took a tumble as Canada's Katerine Savard scorched prelims with a sizzling 58.79. That effort beat Dana Vollmer's record from a year ago of 58.91, and shot Savard to sixth in the world rankings this year. She's the second-fastest Canadian in the event this year with Noemie Thomas dropping a fourth-ranked 58.54 at the Austin stop of the Arena Grand Prix.
Western Kentucky's Claire Donahue, who will head to New Zealand for a three-week training came next week, proved to be the only other sub-1:00 swimmer this morning with a 59.53 to qualify second. That's on the outskirts of the top 10 in the world anchored by Katinka Hosszu's 59.38 from Nice, France.
T2's Amanda Kendall raced her way to third overall with a 1:00.91 as Paul Yetter's T2 squad in Florida continues playing the long-game of helping swimmers get geared up for big runs in the 2016 Olympic year. While David Marsh and Bob Bowman have been putting together some huge post-grad groups at SwimMAC and NBAC, Yetter has quietly been setting up a pretty strong group of his own.
Lauren Case, a 15 year old from Chattahoochee Gold, posted a 1:01.01 to qualify fourth overall. That's just a second off her personal best of 1:00.61 from last summer's junior nationals. SwimMAC's Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace posted a fifth-place time of 1:01.786, while Canada's Sandrine Mainville earned sixth in 1:02.08.
Hungary's Evelyn Verraszto (1:02.27) and Lake Erie's Kaitlyn Johnson (1:02.27) comprised the rest of the championship finale.
Men's 100 fly
A truly international field will be on display during the finale of the men's 100-meter fly with Emiro Goossen leading the way with an unofficial time currently posted in the results. Auburn's Albert Subirats, meanwhile, checked in with a second-place time of 54.18.
Japan's Masayuki Kishida hit the wall in 54.78 for third overall, while Bolles' Joseph Schooling clocked a fourth-place time of 54.82. Luis Martinez took fifth overall in 54.83, while Thiago Sickert wound up sixth in 55.26.
Zuhayr Pigot (55.27) and Adam Brown (55.27) tied for the final transfer spot into the big finale. On the national age group record watch, Michael Andrew qualified 18th overall with a 56.32 and will be gunning for Justin Lynch's 2011 record of 54.80 in the 13-14 age group division. In fact, Andrew was the highest qualifying American as international swimmers went 1-17.
Women's 400 IM
When the Iron Lady isn't allowed to enter every single event, and is held down to seven throughout three days of swimming, Katinka Hosszu might as well sprint every morning swim like it is a timed final event. And, that's exactly what she did this morning.
After setting the meet record in the 200 free to start the day, Hosszu crushed the meet mark in the 400-meter IM with a 4:38.84. That swim obliterated Becca Mann's record of 4:41.24 from a year ago, and is just short of Hosszu's third-ranked season best of 4:37.68 from Nice, France earlier this year. There's little doubt she'll get after that time this evening, with Aimee Willmott's stunning top-ranked 4:33.64 as her target.
California's Caitlin Leverenz, who stands ninth in the world with a 4:41.56 from Austin, qualified second in 4:46.79, while Saint Augustine Swim Team's Vien Nguyen broke 4:50 for the first time with a third-place 4:49.12. The 17-year-old previously had a 4:50.83 lifetime best from the Charlotte stop of the Arena Grand Prix last year.
Clearwater's Sydney Pickrem turned in a fourth-place 4:53.01, while Aliessia Polieri earned fifth in 4:55.05. Hungary's Evelyn Verraszto (4:56.41), York's Courtney Harnish (4:57.03) and T2's Justine Mueller (4:57.75) also made the championship finale.
Men's 400 IM
Hungary had another strong outing in the men's distance medley with a 1-4 finish in prelims. David Verraszto chased down the top seed with a time of 4:20.53, moving him to 10th in the world overall. He just pushed Andrew Seliskar's 4:20.64 from the Austin stop of the Grand Prix out. Verraszto's compatriot David Folhazi, a training partner of the Iron Lady Katinka Hosszu, qualified fourth in 4:28.77.
Wisconsin's Michael Weiss checked in with a second-seeded time of 4:25.50, while Club Wolverine's Tyler Clary picked up third overall in 4:27.28.
Ian Rainey snared fifth overall in 4:29.14, while The Woodlands' Michael McBroom earned another championship finale this evening with a 4:30.05. Mexico's Andres Olvera Alejos touched seventh in 4:30.88 with William Brothers placing eighth in 4:31.63.
Michael Andrew, who has typically made the most noise in the shorter events, has decided to dabble in the 400 IM at this point. This morning, he posted a 19th-place 4:40.45, cutting nearly three seconds from his lifetime best of 4:43.12 from last June. Since national age group records seem to be Andrew's primary focal point, he's going to have a bit of time to drop to catch up to Michael Phelps' 4:24.77 from 2000.
At this meet, however, Andrew may be looking at another lane instead of as a record book for motivation as 14-year-old German Johannes Hintze, who is just as prolific when it comes to breaking German age group records, qualified ahead of Andrew with a 4:39.20 for 15th overall.