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MESA, Arizona, April 11. THE first day of prelims at the Arena Grand Prix in Mesa is complete, and plenty of fast swims occurred this morning. FINA World Cup Queen set herself up for a triple this evening.
With the mind-blowing swims from the college championship season behind us, the swimming world refocuses on the Road to Barcelona as Mesa plays host to a bevy of world-class talent.
Women's 100 free
California's Natalie Coughlin started off the meet in a big way with a top-seeded performance of 54.44. That swim jumped her into the top 10 in the world this year already, bettering her season best of 54.79 from the Mediterranean International Meet held in Marseille in March. Coughlin has a definite chance to break into the 53s tonight, a place where only a handful of swimmers have gone this year including Cate Campbell with a 53.51 from Australia.
Katinka Hosszu, the reigning FINA World Cup Queen, raced into second with a 54.80. She's coming off a three-year training stint down in Florida, and decided to compete in Mesa instead of a few potential European meets that could have been on the Hungarian's docket. This morning is the first sub-55 for her this year, beating her season best of 55.44 from the Luxembourg Euro Meet.
Colorado Stars' Missy Franklin, easily one of the superstars of the meet when we overheard security marshalls talking about how she continues to be swarmed by fans, qualified third in 55.04. She's been faster this year with a 54.68 from the Austin Grand Prix.
California's Dana Vollmer (55.67) and Elizabeth Pelton (55.92) gave the Golden Bears four of the top five seeds with Franklin heading to Berkeley next year.
Trojan's Jessica Hardy (55.95), SMU's Nathalie Lindborg (56.08) and Louisville's Kelsi Worrell (56.27) also earned their ways into the championship heat this evening.
Men's 100 free
California's Nathan Adrian rocketed to a sub-50 swim this morning as he clocked a 49.68 to clinch the top seed heading into the finale. He's already been a world-leading 48.11 this season at the Mediterranean International Meet in Marseille. The question tonight is whether he can break through into the 47s.
Longhorn's Ricky Berens posted a second-seeded time of 50.09. He has a bit more in the tank considering he clocked a season best 49.35 at the Austin Grand Prix in January, and will be looking to better that time this evening.
Tucson Ford's Darian Townsend turned in a third-seeded time of 50.25, while SMU's Mindaugas Sadauskas raced to fourth in 50.26.
Tucson Ford's Matt Grevers, fresh off his wedding to Annie Chandler this past weekend in what has been deemed the Royal Swim Wedding after the proposal video went viral, moved into finals with a fifth-seeded 50.83. He will definitely be looking to shake off some of the cobwebs from what proved to be an exciting, but exhausting wedding weekend.
Stanford's Eugene Godsoe touched sixth in 50.90, while recent Morning Swim Show guest Anthony Ervin of California pushed his way into the championship eight with a 50.97. Davie Nadadores' Roberto Gomez rounded out the top eight with a 51.12.
Notably, Olympic gold medalist Ryan Lochte qualified 13th in 51.32.
Women's 200 breast
Hometown girl Breeja Larson, who swam with meet host Mesa Aquatic Club prior to exploding onto the world-class scene with the Texas A&M Aggies, topped prelims with a time of 2:29.01. She's got a lot of time to make up to move into the realm of the world leaders this year, with Rikke Pedersen owning a 2:20.53 from the Danish Open two weeks ago.
California's Caitlin Leverenz posted a second-place time of 2:29.80, but look for Leverenz and Larson to battle this evening with much faster times as neither needed to put up best times to make the finale.
Stina Gardell (2:31.09), SoFlo's Alia Atkinson (2:32.15), SMU's Raminta Dvariskyte (2:32.24), Santa Barbara's Katy Freeman (2:33.44), SMU's Rachel Nicol (2:33.92) and Pleasanton Seahawks' Celina Li (2:37.16) also made the championship finale.
Men's 200 breast
Prelims produced a heavily international field in the men's distance breaststroke event this morning. Venezuela's Carlos Claverie led the way with a 2:15.92, while Louisville's Carlos Almeida placed second in 2:18.01. Claverie made a move to the outskirts of the top 25 in the world this year with his effort, and will be looking for a faster time this evening.
Argentina's Miguelena Facundo qualified third in 2:18.21, while Trojan's Mike Alexandrov (2:18.53) snared fourth.
Palo Alto's Bernard Johnson (2:18.56), Kyle Duckitt (2:18.98), Longhorn's Imri Ganiel (2:19.12) and Tucson Ford's Clark Burckle (2:19.54) also made their way into the championship eight. London Olympic finalist Scott Weltz, who took fifth at the 2012 Olympiad, wound up ninth in 2:19.66.
Women's 400 free
NCAP's Katie Ledecky, an Olympic gold medalist in her own right, could make some serious noise this evening after clocking a 4:07.04 to lead qualifying in the women's middle distance event. That time puts her into the top 10 in the world this year, and within striking distance of Camille Muffat's world-leading effort of 4:04.16 from the French National Championships.
Katinka Hosszu, always a workhorse especially at money meets, qualified second in 4:09.91 and will be looking to add another check to her account as pros will be racing for money this evening. Mission Viejo's Chloe Sutton, fresh off a several week run of Fitter and Faster Tour events, placed third with a 4:13.79.
Jewish Community's Leah Smith (4:14.49), Germantown's Rachel Zilinskas (4:14.56), Chelsea Chenault (4:15.37), GSC's Andreina Pinto (4:16.09) and California's Elizabeth Pelton (4:17.00) grabbed the rest of the transfer spots into the championship finale.
Men's 400 free
Fresh off helping Michigan to its first NCAA title since 1995, Anders Neilsen touched out training partner Michael Klueh, 3:57.12 to 3:57.39, for the top seed in the men's 400 free. Club Seminole's Mateo De Angulo rounded out the top three with a time of 3:58.83.
Virginia's Matt McLean turned in a fourth-place time of 3:59.61 as the top four swimmers all cleared 4:00 this morning.
Conor Dwyer earned fifth with a time of 4:00.47, while AK Sharks' Samuel Smiddy qualified sixth in 4:01.37. Stanford's Chad La Tourette (4:03.43) and Bobby Bollier (4:03.93) also made the championship heat.
Women's 100 fly
A trio of swimmers cleared 1:00 in the preliminary heats with Louisville's Kelsi Worrell putting on a show as Arthur Albeiro's swimmers continued to show up strong this morning. Worrell posted the top time with a 59.20.
Meanwhile, with her third runner-up qualification, Katinka Hosszu dropped a 59.25 in prelims to qualify second. That's her third A final for this evening, setting up a potentially strong money run with the likelihood of a podium triple.
California's Dana Vollmer clocked a 59.27 for the third seed heading into finals, nearly bettering her season best of 58.91 from the Orlando Grand Prix in February.
Western Kentucky's Claire Donahue (1:00.04), SESI's Daynara De Paula (1:00.42), California's Caitlin Leverenz (1:00.90) and Kathryn McLaughlin (1:00.94) qualified fourth through seventh.
Tualatin's Michelle Cefal set up a swimoff with Redlands' Sonia Wang with matching eighth-place 1:01.47s. Cefal wound up winning the swimoff with a 1:00.99.
The consolation heat is loaded with California Golden Bears as Elizabeth Pelton (1:01.54), Cindy Tran (1:01.76) and Rachel Bootsma (1:02.10) all made the B final.
Men's 100 fly
California went 1-2 in the morning with Marcin Tarczynki and Tom Shields topping qualifying. Tarczynski raced to the top seed with a 53.23, while newly-professional Shields took second in 53.41. Both will be looking to break into the low 52s to challenge some of the world leaders this year, including Zhou Jiawei's 52.11 from Chinese Nationals.
Terrapins' Justin Lynch picked up third-seed honors with a time of 53.47, cutting time from his seed of 53.74. Stanford's Eugene Godsoe claimed fourth with a 54.10.
Bolles' Joseph Schooling (54.31), Stanford's Bobby Bollier (54.60), PEAK's Tom Kremer (54.61) and Club Wolverine's Dan Madwed (54.86) also made the finale this evening, while Ryan Lochte fell to ninth with a 54.91.