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MESA, Arizona, April 11. THE first day of finals action is complete at the Arena Grand Prix – Mesa. The most amazing swim of the night definitely belonged to NCAP's Katie Ledecky as she challenged Camille Muffat's world-leading time in the women's 400-meter freestyle.
Meanwhile, FINA World Cup Queen Katinka Hosszu claimed a trio of runner-up paychecks.
Women's 100 free
Colorado Stars' Missy Franklin put on a show in the women's 100-meter freestyle finale, powering down the stretch to emerge victorious. She raced to a 54.27 for the win after clocking a 55.04 in prelims. Franklin split the race 26.36, 54.27, en route to posting the seventh fastest time of the year in the world.
The win pushed her total Arena Grand Prix earnings to $7,300, which she will be turning down due to maintaining her NCAA eligibility to enroll at California after her senior year in high school this year.
Hungary's Katinka Hosszu, who was a monster on the FINA World Cup winning six figures after taking down medal after medal, cashed a runner-up check tonight in the first of an ambitious triple. Hosszu clocked a 54.60 to move to 10th in the world this year with the swim. That's a personal best, bettering her previous top time of 54.80.
Natalie Coughlin, still adjusting to training with the post-grad group filled with men in Berkeley, placed third overall in 54.61 just behind Hosszu. That time fell a bit short of her ninth-ranked time of 54.44 from earlier in this year in Marseille.
Trojan's Jessica Hardy (55.28), SMU's Nathalie Lindborg (55.96), California's Dana Vollmer (55.97), California's Elizabeth Pelton (55.97) and Louisville's Kelsi Worrell (56.22) rounded out the championship heat.
Men's 100 free
California's Nathan Adrian blasted his way to victory in the men's 100-meter freestyle as he clocked a sizzling 48.42 this evening. He already owns the top swim in the world with a sterling 48.11, while this time is the third-fastest effort this year behind a 48.38 from James Magnussen of Australia. Adrian hasn't lost a 100 free in more than a year.
Ricky Berens of the Longhorns ripped off a 49.06, coming home in 25.17 (faster than Adrian's 25.32) in the final 50 meters. That swim from Berens moved him to eighth in the world this year as he continues to put up strong 100 free times.
Tucson Ford's Darian Townsend wrapped up the podium with a third-place time of 49.73, just edging SMU's Mindaugas Sadauskas (49.78) for the third-place prize money.
California's Anthony Ervin, who already has been a 49.08 this year, wound up fifth in 50.29, while recently married Matt Grevers of Tucson Ford cruised to sixth in 50.89.
Davie Nadadores' Roberto Gomez (50.89) and Tucson Ford's Bobby Hurley (51.17) also competed in the finale, while Olympic star Ryan Lochte posted a 50.98 to win the B final.
Women's 200 breast
Hometown girl Breeja Larson, who trained with meet host Mesa Aquatics Club prior to bursting onto the world-class scene at Texas A&M, turned on the afterburners down the stretch to overcome fellow Arizona native Caitlin Leverenz for the win.
Larson won in 2:28.03 after posting a 1:12.60 at the 100-meter mark. That swim stands just outside the top 10 times this year, but the result definitely drew the biggest cheer of the night thus far.
Leverenz, who led at the halfway mark with a 1:12.00, placed second overall with a 2:29.13 as she watched Larson power past in the final 100 meters. Katy Freeman, meanwhile, checked in with a swift 2:29.31 for third-place honors.
Stina Gardell (2:30.67), SoFlo's Alia Atkinson (2:31.31), SMU's Rachel Nicol (2:31.58), SMU's Raminta Dvariskyte (2:31.59) and Pleasanton's Celina Li (2:35.36) also competed for the championship title this evening.
Katie Meili, fresh off a strong women's NCAA Division I Championships, topped the B final in 2:34.69.
Men's 200 breast
Palo Alto's BJ Johnson surfaced triumphant from a close call in the men's 200-meter breaststroke as the 25-year-old held off a hard-charging Mike Alexandrov of Trojan Swim Club.
Johnson clocked a winning time of 2:14.51, touching at the 100 with a 1:05.02, while Alexandrov touched 1:05.63 at the 100 before taking second in 2:14.56. He dropped a 34.43 in the final 50 meters, but ran out of room.
Tucson Ford's Clark Burckle went out hard with a 1:04.35 at the 100, but fell back to third with a 2:15.91 as he ran out of steam with a 36.44 in the final 50 meters.
Venezuela's Carlos Claverie took fourth in 2:16.94, while Cardinal's Carlos Almeida placed fifth in 2:17.22.
Longhorn's Imri Ganiel (2:17.50), Argentina's Miguelena Facundo (2:17.66) and Kyle Duckitt (2:17.75) also vied for the title in what proved to be an international finale. UCD's Scott Weltz took the consolation heat win in 2:16.45.
Women's 400 free
NCAP's Katie Ledecky put on a show for the fans in attendance at the Skyline Aquatic Center with the second-fastest time in the world this year in the women's 400-meter free, and she did so basically on her own as she won by more than six seconds.
Ledecky blitzed the championship heat with a 4:05.21 to move to second in the world this year, behind Camille Muffat's 4:04.16 from the French National Championships this week. Ledecky demonstrated just how in tune she is with the sport as one of the top swim fans around, by correcting Rowdy Gaines on the Universal Sports broadcast when he was prompted to ask what it felt like to have the top time in the world this year. Most in attendance had believed Mireia Belmonte Garcia's 4:05.63 was the standing world leader.
Hungary's Katinka Hosszu earned her second runner-up check of the night as she posted a 4:11.72 for second-place honors. That's just two seconds off her personal best of 4:09.91, pretty strong considering how much work she puts in at money meets like this.
Mission Viejo's Chloe Sutton rounded out the top three with a 4:12.00. She's definitely shaking off the rust after being on the clinic circuit for the past few weeks. A third-place finish in her first time racing in quite some time is still a strong performance.
Gator's Andreina Pinto (4:13.65), Jewish Community's Leah Smith (4:14.23), Germantown's Rachel Zilinskas (4:14.91), Chelsea Chenault (4:16.81) and Lynette Lim (4:17.87) earned the rest of the championship finishes. Meanwhile, Germantown 14-year-old Sierra Schmidt cut two seconds from her lifetime best in the event with a 4:18.42 to win the B final, topping 19-year-old Joanna Stenkvist (4:18.72).
Men's 400 free
Virginia's Matt McLean, an Olympic gold medalist from last summer at the 2012 London Games, blistered the pool with a victorious time of 3:51.95 as he continues to shake off the rust from some illnesses since his triumph in London. His time put him on the outskirts of the top 15 in the world this year, impressing plenty of those in attendance.
Club Wolverine's Michael Klueh turned in a second-place effort of 3:52.20 as he started a late charge with a 27.42 final 50 meters, but ran out of room to overtake McLean. Anders Nielsen of Michigan, who had been looking for a World Championships qualifying time for Denmark, fell off the pace with a third-place 3:54.09.
Club Seminole's Mateo De Angulo (3:58.44), Lake Forest's Conor Dwyer (3:59.23), Stanford's Chad La Tourette (4:00.32), AK Sharks' Samuel Smiddy (4:03.41) and Venezuela's Miguel Perez (4:05.68) also competed in the championship finale. Yeziel Morales clocked a swift 4:02.80 to win the B final in the men's middle distance event.
Women's 100 fly
Following a stunning 15-meter disqualification of Louisville's Kelsi Worrell, the initial winner of the women's 100-meter fly, Western Kentucky Olympic gold medalist Claire Donahue finished atop the mountain with a time of 59.58.
Worrell had touched first with a 59.48, but watched the time disappear after official disqualified her for going past 15 meters underwater. Donahue wound up having the chance to talk to Rowdy Gaines as the event victor on the Universal Sports broadcast.
Hungary's Katinka Hosszu finished a remarkable night with her third runner-up prize as she clocked a 59.80. California's Dana Vollmer completed the top three with the only other sub-1:00 time with a 59.99.
Kathryn McLaughlin (1:00.06), California's Caitlin Leverenz (1:00.86), SESI's Daynara De Paula (1:00.88) and Tualatin Hills' Michelle Cefal (1:02.05) completed the rest of the clean finishes in the finale. Cefal obviously burned her best time of the day just getting into the finale with a 1:00.99 during her swimoff against Sonia Wang. Wang took second to Ally Howe in the B final, 1:00.78 to 1:01.94.
Men's 100 fly
In what looked like a Pacific 12 dual meet at first glance, the California Golden Bears went 1-2, while Stanford picked up third and fourth in the men's 100-meter fly finale.
Marcin Tarczynski raced to the title in 52.83 as fellow Cal-connected Tom Shields won his first professional race winning check with a second-place 52.99. Tarczynski jumped to ninth in the world with his swim, while Shields' effort stood just outside the top 10.
Eugene Godsoe (53.28) and Bobby Bollier (53.82) placed third and fourth for Stanford, while Club Wolverine's Dan Madwed grabbed fifth-place honors in 53.99.
Terrapins' Justin Lynch, just 16, took sixth in 54.15, while 17-year-old Joseph Schooling of Bolles placed seventh in 54.35. PEAK's Tom Kremer wrapped up the final individual finale of the night with an eighth-place 54.45. Daytona Beach's Ryan Lochte clinched the B final title with a 54.48, while Tyler Clary wound up 10th overall with a 55.14 in the consolation heat.