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AUSTIN, Texas, January 17. WITH 40 Olympics medals owned by finalists tonight at the Arena Grand Prix stop in Austin, there was no doubt that some amazing swims would be thrown up on the scoreboard.
This evening, Nathan Adrian and Katie Ledecky led the charge with some sizzling swims in their events in Austin.
Women’s 100 free
First Colony’s Simone Manuel, who has continued to gain some remarkable confidence as a world-class sprinter after a strong meet at Worlds in Barcelona last summer, then anchoring Team USA to a tiebreaker win at the Duel in the Pool in December, clinched the title this evening in the sprint free with a 54.38. That’s just half a second off her lifetime best of 53.86.
In sum, Manuel finished ahead of 22 Olympic medals in the finale.
NBAC’s Allison Schmitt, who is beginning to focus on her sprint freestyle after being primarily a middle-distance swimmer throughout the bulk of her career, snared second in 54.86. She came up just a second shy from her lifetime best after scratching the 400 free today.
SwimMAC’s Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace and Georgia’s Megan Romano posted matching times of 54.94 to tie for third overall in the women’s 100 free finale. Swim Atlanta’s Amanda Weir just missed the podium with a 55.06 for fifth.
Canada’s Victoria Poon (55.23), California’s Natalie Coughlin (55.35) and NCAP’s Katie Ledecky (55.57) rounded out the championship finale.
T2′s Amanda Kendall, who has found a home with head coach Paul Yetter at T2 Aquatics after some time in limbo after being dismissed by both LSU and Arizona, continued her career resurgence with a B final win in 55.81. She touched out Olympian Jessica Hardy at the wall as Hardy clocked a 55.82. Kendall nearly beat her in-season best of 55.78 from 2011. Canada’s Sandrine Mainville clinched third in the B final with a 56.21.
Men’s 100 free
California’s Nathan Adrian torched a field that included a total of five Olympic medalists with Adrian throwing down a 48.26 to take the second spot in the world this year. Only James Magnussen, with his 47.73 from earlier today in Australia, has been faster in the early goings of this year. Adrian pushed the pace early, splitting a 22.96 at the wall, before coming home in 25.30 to easily win the finale.
NBAC’s Yannick Agnel, one of the top 100 freestylers in the world out of France but training in Baltimore with head coach Bob Bowman, wound up taking second in the finale with a 49.31. His training partner, Conor Dwyer, also made the podium with a third-place time of 49.39. California’s Anthony Ervin just missed a podium paycheck with a fourth-place time of 49.42.
Longhorn’s Jimmy Feigen was the top local talent with a fifth-place time of 49.57, while former Longhorn Dax Hill, now swimming for SwimMAC’s Team Elite, earned sixth with a 50.09.
NBAC’s Matt McLean, typically a middle-distance swimmer, took seventh overall with a lifetime best of 50.13. Stanford’s Alex Coville rounded out the top eight with a time of 50.49.
SwimMAC’s Cullen Jones got his hand on the wall first in the B final with a time of 50.63, just ahead of Ontario’s Evan Van Moerkerke’s 50.73.
Women’s 200 breast
SwimMAC’s Micah Lawrence held off a hard-charging Laura Sogar of BlueFish to capture the title in 2:25.73. She split the race 33.79, 37.38, 37.24, 37.32 as she made sure to get her hand to the wall first in the finale. Lawrence is coming off the fun-filled Duel in the Pool, where she made a name for herself by showing off her quirky personality with some of her public relations commitments.
Sogar, meanwhile, just back in town after a 12-hour photo shoot with sponsor Arena in San Antonio yesterday, picked up silver with a time of 2:26.14. She split the race 33.84, 37.01, 37.99, 37.30 to take second overall. SMU’s Rachel Nicol pocketed bronze with a 2:28.09.
The rest of the field finished well behind with Canada’s Tera Van Beilen taking fourth in 2:32.44. SMU’s Raminta Dvariskyte checked in with a fifth-place time of 2:33.70, while SwimMAC’s Katie Meili claimed sixth in 2:34.22.
16-year-old Destiny Nelson of Frisco snared seventh in the finale with a 2:36.17, while T2′s Justine Muller wound up eighth overall in 2:36.86.
Abbigail Duncan smoked the B final by nearly two seconds to win the heat in 2:33.34. That’s still two seconds back of the Missouri swimmer’s lifetime best of 2:31.80, but it was more than enough to torch the rest of the field.
Men’s 200 breast
Scottish swimmer Ross Murdoch enjoyed a strong final 50 meters en route to picking up the championship title this evening. He clocked a time of 2:12.15 as he begins focusing on the 2014 Commonwealth Games that will be held in his home nation in Glasgow, Scotland.
BJ Johnson of PASA, someone who is not new to the Grand Prix circuit as he routinely medals in the breaststrokes at these meets, took second overall in 2:13.19. 2012 Olympian Scott Weltz of UC Davis touched third overall in 2:14.48, while NBAC’s Conor Dwyer wound up fourth in 2:14.92 in just his second swim in the event since way back in 2006.
NBAC’s Gabriel deSousa checked in with a fifth-place time of 2:16.27, while NCAP’s Andrew Seliskar wound up sixth in 2:17.62. That cut nearly a second off Seliskar’s lifetime best of 2:18.44. Trojan’s Glenn Snyders (2:19.26) and Canada’s Nick Kostiuk (2:19.30) also competed in the finale.
Mike Alexandrov, one of the top breaststrokers in the nation and a veteran of the Grand Prix circuit, surprisingly finished in the B final this morning. This evening, he had little problem putting the rest of the B finalists away with a 2:16.64 for the consolation title.
Women’s 400 free
In a loaded finale, reigning World Swimmer of the Year Katie Ledecky posted an in-season best by breaking 4:05 with a blazing time of 4:04.46. Her previous best time in-season came at the Mesa stop of the Arena Grand Prix last year with a 4:05.21 from last April.
This is the first time that Ledecky has broken 4:05 outside of the championship season, where she has an amazing lifetime best of 3:59.82 that is the best time in textile ever. Ledecky split the 400 free this evening 58.59, 1:00.93, 1:03.22, 1:01.72 en route to her 4:04.46. She dusted the rest of the field that was pretty loaded.
NBAC’s Lotte Friis, the Danish swimmer now training in Baltimore after undercutting the 1500 free world record in Barcelona last year but finishing second to Ledecky, wound up a distant second this evening in 4:09.35.
IX3′s Chloe Sutton, who is looking towards another Pan Pacific Championship year being a good omen, finished third in 4:12.11. Sutton’s top effort at the international level is a gold medal in the 400 free at the Pan Pacific Championships in 2010.
Longhorn’s Quinn Carrazzo raced to fourth in 4:14.66, while Canada’s Savannah King earned fifth in 4:15.91. Isabella Rongione, just 14, who recently moved to NCAP to train with Ledecky after previously swimming with The Fish, placed sixth in 4:16.02. She just missed her lifetime best of 4:15.79.
North Carolina’s Madison Homovich, a 13-year-old to watch out for, took seventh in 4:16.22. That’s another lifetime best, beating the 4:17.12 she clocked this morning. Heading into the day, Homovich had never broken 4:20. NCAP’s Megan Byrnes rounded out the championship field with a 4:19.04.
Lakeside’s Leah Stevens claimed the B final going away with a 4:16.10. The closest finisher was Frisco’s Gabrielle Kopenski with a 4:18.20, which still managed to shave a few seconds off her lifetime best of 4:21.29.
Men’s 400 free
Olympic gold medalist Yannick Agnel of NBAC, demonstrated his longer distance ability with a winning time of 3:49.78. That would have put him just outside the top eight at the World Championships last summer.
The Woodlands’ Michael McBroom faced down a pretty sterling rest of the field with a second-place time of 3:50.47. That’s just a second of so off his lifetime best of 3:49.28, but was enough to take down the rest of the field.
Tunisia’s Ous Mellouli, now training at NBAC as he refocuses on the pool after a few years swimming primarily open water events, took third overall in 3:50.85. Club Wolverine’s Tyler Clary finished fourth overall in a 3:52.86, while teammate Michael Klueh finished fifth in 3:52.94.
California’s Jeremy Bagshaw raced his way to sixth in 3:54.96, while NBAC’s Matt McLean touched seventh in 3:55.36. Mexico’s Julio Andres Olvera Alejos picked up the final spot in the finale with a 3:56.51.
Badger’s Ryan Feeley topped the B final in the men’s middle distance event with a time of 3:57.64. He’s been much faster in the event, but he touched first by more than a second ahead of NBAC’s Tom Luchsinger’s 3:58.86.
Women’s 100 fly
It was a Canadian 1-2 in the women’s 100 fly finale as Noemie Thomas raced her way to the title in a time of 58.54. That’s just off her top time ever of a 57.96, and only about a second off Katerine Savard’s Canadian record of 57.31. The U.S. will be seeing more of Thomas soon as she’s signed to compete with the California Golden Bears next year.
Her compatriot Audrey Lacroix placed second with a time of 59.47, also just a second off her lifetime best of 58.67. SwimMAC’s Kathleen Baker broke the 1:01 barrier with a third-place 1:00.22. That downed her previous best of 1:01.20.
T2′s Amanda Kendall closed out an impressive double with a 1:00.61 for fourth, while SMAC’s Remedy Rule wound up fifth in 1:01.08. That’s a lifetime best for the 17 year old, just beating her 1:01.18.
SwimMAC’s Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace touched sixth in 1:01.86, while T2′s Justin Mueller earned seventh in 1:01.91. Kendra Chernoff wound up eighth overall in 1:01.91.
PASA’s Ally Howe clipped her lifetime best in the event with a B final effort of 1:00.75 to finish ahead of the pack. That time just beat her previous top time of 1:00.78 as she continues to inch closer to the 1:00 barrier.
Men’s 100 fly
California’s Tom Shields, fresh off altitude training in Colorado Springs, nearly posted an in-season best with a scintillating time of 52.72. That swim came up a bit short of his 52.53 from the Fran Crippen Memorial last summer in June. He clearly beat his best Grand Prix time as well, which previously had been a 52.99 from the Mesa stop of the Arena Grand Prix last year.
Stanford’s Eugene Godsoe raced his way to second in 53.69, while Cardinal teammate Jason Dunford snagged third-place honors in 53.73.
SwimMAC’s Nick Thoman (51.40), NCAP’s Andrew Seliskar (54.17), Stanford’s Bobby Bollier (54.44), Canada’s Coleman Allen (54.47) and Germany’s Christian Diener (54.98) wrapped up the championship heat.
NBAC’s Tom Luchsinger dominated the B final this evening with a 54.10, just missing his lifetime best of 53.78 in the process. Although he’s a stronger 200-meter butterflier, it was a bit surprising to see him miss out on the finale. It’s obvious he decided to demonstrate his speed in the consolation heat.