AUSTIN, Texas, January 19. THE stars were certainly out tonight at the Arena Grand Prix in Austin, but no one shined brighter than Matt Grevers as he surfaced triumphant from a loaded men’s 100-meter backstroke finale.
Women’s 200 fly
Two-time Canadian Olympian Audrey Lacroix scorched the field in the distance fly event with a winning time of 2:09.18. No one else came even close to Lacroix in the process as the Canadian definitely made her mark this evening.
SMAC’s Remedy Rule chased down the rest of the field with a second-place time of 2:11.24, just clipping her lifetime best in the process. Canada’s Noemie Thomas raced her way to third overall in 2:13.04, a few seconds back of her lifetime best that would have put her in contention for second.
California’s Caitlin Leverenz (2:13.25), Mount Pleasant’s Megan Kingsley (2:14.69), PASA’s Ally Howe (2:15.05), Longhorn’s Victoria Edwards (2:15.44) and North Carolina’s Madison Homovich (2:16.22) also competed in the finale. Homovich clipped her personal best of 2:16.82 as the 13-year-old continued her career meet this weekend in Austin.
Dakota Luther of Longhorn Aquatics went out hard and had just enough left in the tank to collect the B final victory with a 2:16.67. That swim smashed her previous lifetime best of 2:19.62 from last July at the Southern Zone Championships.
Luther has some serious pedigree as the daughter of Olympic gold medalist Whitney Hedgepeth.
First Colony’s Alicia Finnigan nearly closed the gap with a second-place 2:16.97. That’s a huge PB for Finnigan as well, beating the 2:18.78 she set this morning. Previously, she had a lifetime best of 2:19.33 from 2011 Junior Nationals.
Men’s 200 fly
Even though NCAP’s Andrew Seliskar had a strong third split, NBAC’s Tom Luchsinger turned on the afterburners down the stretch in the 200 fly to capture the title in 1:57.93. Luchsinger has filled the 200 fly void with Michael Phelps retired from the sport (even though there’s serious rumblings he’s back), but will have to contend with the likes of young lions like Seliskar.
Seliskar, meanwhile, checked in with a second-place 1:58.57, while California’s Tom Shields grabbed third in 1:58.85 to round out the podium placements.
Stanford’s Bobby Bollier (1:59.06), NBAC’s Conor Dwyer (2:00.88), Badger’s Ryan Feeley (2:02.55), Mexico’s Ramiro Ramirez Juarez (2:03.44) and Jersey Wahoo Zachary Fong (2:05.01) comprised the rest of the championship heat.
Dwyer, who is undergoing an off-event schedule this weekend that also included his first 200 breaststroke in years, cut two seconds from his lifetime best of 2:02.64 in the 200 fly.
Alec Page managed to capture the B final of the men’s 200 fly with a time of 2:02.76, with no one else coming close to contesting the finish.
Women’s 100 breast
American-record holder Jessica Hardy, who is still shaking the rust off from her long-term honeymoon break following last summer, only interrupted by the Duel in the Pool in Glasgow, Scotland, led the women’s 100-meter breaststroke wire-to-wire with a 1:07.05.
Hardy shook off a prank call this morning, when someone sent a pizza delivery to her hotel room at 4 a.m. She had fun with it on Twitter with her followers.
BlueFish’s Laura Sogar, a Texas-Ex enjoying her time in Austin this weekend, took home the second spot with a 1:07.76, while SwimMAC’s Katie Meili rounded out the podium with a third-place effort of 1:08.46. Sogar just missed her lifetime best of 1:07.57, while Meili had a similar results just off her 1:08.24.
SMU’s Rachel Nicol (1:08.79), Tera Van Beilen (1:10.45), Abigail Duncan (1:10.54), Aquajet’s Olivia Anderson (1:10.78) and T2′s Justine Mueller (1:12.12) also put up times in the championship heat.
In the consolation heat, SMU’s Tara-Lynn Nicholas downed SMU teammate Raminta Dvariskyte, 1:11.33 to 1:11.86, as the two Mustangs battled throughout the B final.
Men’s 100 breast
Scotland’s Ross Murdoch put together a strong 1:00.58 to win the men’s 100 breast and complete a breaststroke sweep here in Austin. He won by nearly a second in the finale with Trojan’s Mike Alexandrov finished second in 1:01.38. Tennessee’s Brad Craig closed out the podium with a time of 1:02.20.
Trojan’s Glenn Snyders (1:02.35), PASA’s BJ Johnson (1:02.66), UC Davis’ Scott Weltz (1:02.78), Craig Benson (1:03.94) and PASA’s Brandon Fischer (1:04.12) also battled for podium spots in the 100 breast finale, but came up short.
Michael Andrew turned in a sizzling time of 1:03.83 to win the consolation heat. That swim smashed the previous 13-14 U.S. National Age Group record of 1:04.74 set by Anthony Robinson way back in 1994, 20 years ago. Andrew split the swim 30.28 going out and 33.55 coming home.
Women’s 100 back
Canada’s Hilary Caldwell completed a backstroke sweep this weekend with a 1:01.57 to emerge from a packed line of competitors at the wall for the win. The top three swimmers were separated by just .26 with Caldwell finishing just a second off her lifetime best of 1:00.47 en route to the win.
Bulldog Megan Romano, who has cleared 1:00 in her career, raced her way into second-place points with a 1:01.72. She continues to march towards winning the overall Arena Grand Prix series, and the one-year BMW lease that comes with the win.
Canada’s Dominique Bouchard ran down third-place points with a time of 1:01.83 in what proved to be an exciting finale.
SMU’s Isabella Arcila (1:02.4), Ontario’s Danielle Hanus (1:03.39), PASA’s Ally Howe (1:04.38) and First Colony’s Simone Manuel (1:04.51) also vied for the event title as part of the championship field.
T2′s Justin Mueller, fresh off the women’s 100 breast finale, took home the B final win in the 100 back with a 1:04.38. She just clipped Remedy Rule, who wound up taking second overall in the consolation heat with a 1:04.55.
Men’s 100 back
With world record holder Aaron Peirsol in attendance, and later doing the post-swim interview, Tucson Ford’s Matt Grevers collected the backstroke title with a 53.72. That’s less than a second off his in-season best of 53.05 from here in Austin back in 2010 as Grevers continues to refocus heading toward the Pan Pacific Championships.
Russian Olympian Arkady Vyatchanin raced his way to second with a 53.88 as he continues his battle to try to become an American citizen after leaving Russia last year. California’s Ryan Murphy survived a battle with SwimMAC’s Nick Thoman for third-place honors, clearing 54 seconds to win bronze 53.98 to 54.09.
California’s Jacob Pebley (54.53), Stanford’s Eugene Godsoe (54.66), Germany’s Christian Diener (55.68) and Germany’s Felix Wolf (56.34) placed fifth through eighth in the finale of the dorsal swim.
Craig McNally, meanwhile hit the wall first in the B final with a time of 55.55, while PASA’s Geoffrey Cheah posted a second-place 56.62. Michael Andrew just missed his 13-14 U.S. National Age Group record set this morning of 57.38 with a third-place 57.41 in the consolation heat.
Women’s 200 IM
California’s Caitlin Leverenz continued her strong meet this weekend in Austin as she easily won the medley finale this evening with a 2:13.44. She beat the closest finisher by more than two seconds, so she didn’t need her top in-season speed like the 2:09 and 2:10s she is capable of putting up on the scoreboard at this time of the year.
PASA’s Karlee Bispo clipped SwimMAC’s Katie Meili at the wall for second-place honors, 2:16.03 to 2:16.13, while NCAP’s Katie Ledecky just missed the podium with a fourth-place 2:16.27. That’s a personal best for Ledecky, beating her previous mark of 2:17.88.
BlueFish’s Laura Sogar (2:18.69), Santa Clara’s Courtney Monsees (2:19.84), Frisco’s Destiny Nelson (2:20.78) and Mount Pleasant’s Megan Kingsley (2:22.61) also competed in the championship finale.
Canada’s Tera Van Beilen pocketed the B final win in 2:19.91, while Alena Kluge knocked off Makayla Sargent for second in the consolation heat, 2:20.47 to 2:20.93.
Men’s 200 IM
No one else had a chance in the 200 IM finale as Conor Dwyer of NBAC continued piling up big points in the Arena Grand Prix series race with a winning time of 2:00.03. Coming into tonight, he was tied with NBAC teammate Yannick Agnel at 22 points each, and his win here earned him 5 more points.
California’s Josh Prenot put together a second-place time of 2:02.05 as he safely claimed silver with NCAP’s Andrew Seliskar earning third in 2:04.32.
PASA’s Curtis Ogren (2:05.36), Ontario’s Evan White (2:06.07), Wisconsin’s Michael Weiss (2:06.40), Canada’s Alec Page (2:07.46) and Nitro’s Sean Grieshop (2:09.13) finished fourth through eighth in the finale. No one challenged their top times in the finale, as tonight’s heat seemed to be more about the race and not the time.
UC Davis’ Scott Weltz, a 2012 London Olympian who is finding his way back to that elite level again here in 2014, won the B final in 2:05.47 this evening.
Women’s 800 free
It appeared that NCAP’s Katie Ledecky decided to use the first 400 meters of the swim as a warmdown following her 200 IM fourth-place finish. Ledecky trailed NBAC’s Lotte Friis throughout the first half of the swim, before slowing reeling her in before blowing past Friis at the 650-meter mark.
Ledecky wound up with the overall win in the distance freestyle event with a time of 8:26.70, beating Friis by a wide margin with Friis falling back to second in 8:28.65.
Ledecky and Friis put on a serious show in the 1500 free last summer as both cleared the previous world record in a big way with Ledecky managing to finish her swim at Worlds with the global mark. With Friis’ move to North Baltimore, fans are going to get a regular chance to see these two phenomenal distance freestylers battle each other here in the United States.
Canada’s Savannah King won a close battle for third against IX3′s Chloe Sutton, 8:38.87 to 8:38.93 as those two were neck-and-neck throughout the finale. NCAP’s Isabella Rongione, 14, wound up fifth overall in 8:47.39, while 13-year-old Madison Homovich of North Carolina Aquatics broke 9:00 for the first time with a sixth-place 8:49.49 out of the slower seeded heats.
Lakeside’s Leah Stevens (8:49.68) and NBAC’s Megan Byrnes (8:51.44) rounded out the top eight in the timed final event.
Men’s 1500 free
NBAC’s French superstar Yannick Agnel turned in a strong time of 15:07.76 to claim his third freestyle of the meet. Agnel led wire-to-wire in the metric mile, and smashed his previous lifetime best of 15:16.86 in the event. Previously, Agnel won the 200 and 400 freestyle events here in Austin as he continues to enjoy his time on the Grand Prix circuit here in the States.
The Woodlands’ Michael McBroom finished s distant second as he clocked a 15:16.62 for the silver in the distance event with new NBAC swimmer Ous Mellouli snaring third in 15:19.09. Mellouli topped the 1500 free at the 2008 Beijing Olympics before taking gold in the open water 10K in 2012. He’s now refocused his efforts on the pool.
Canada’s Eric Hedlin produced the only other sub-15:20 effort of the night with a fourth-place tiem of 15:19.29. Club Wolverine’s Michael Klueh placed fifth in 15:28.17.
NBAC’s Matt McLean, who just put an hour in as a personal appearance for the Arena Grand Prixview youth event alongside backstroke legend Aaron Peirsol just prior to this evening’s session, took sixth in 15:33.84. That’s a big lifetime best, smashing his previous top time of 15:42.21. NCAP’s Brian Tsau (15:57.23) and North Carolina’s Chip Peterson (16:00.89) also made the top eight in the timed final event.
Longhorn’s Victoria Edwards (1:05.23), Catriona Macgregor (1:16.63), Dakota Luther (1:04.14) and Laine Reed (56.71) dominated the women’s 400-meter medley relay timed finals with a winning time of 4:22.71. Meanwhile, Swim Ontario’s Matthew Swanston (57.74), Evan White (1:05.20), Bryce Kwiecien-Delaney (55.53) and Evan Van Moerkerke (50.95) put an exclamation point on the Canadian impact here in Austin with a 3:49.42 to win the men’s 400-meter medley relay.