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MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota, November 16. THE final night at the Arena Grand Prix in Minneapolis featured some fireworks from some of the top names in the sport.
In the highest profile event of the evening, NYACs Adam Brown touched out a hard-charging Cesar Cielo of Sun Devil Aquatics by the slimmest of margins as the duo turned in some phenomenal swims in the men’s 100-yard free.
Brown scorched the pool with a sizzling 41.89 for the win, his third-best swim of all time behind a 41.75 and 41.84 from the 2011 NCAA Division I Championships. The Brazilian Olympian touched just behind him with a 41.90 in what proved to be an extremely exciting finish. Meanwhile, NBAC’s Yannick Agnel had a strong finish for third in his first short course yards meet as the French Olympian clocked a 42.63.
The rest of the stacked final finished as follows: Trojan’s Alexander Sukhorukov (42.81), Tucson Ford’s Darian Townsend (42.83), Trojan’s Nikita Lobintsev (42.87), NBAC’s Conor Dwyer (43.60) and Minnesota’s Derek Toomey (43.63). That’s a total of five Olympians.
Georgia’s Megan Romano clinched her fourth title of the meet as she raced to a 48.62 to win the women’s 100-yard free at the end of the night. She’s been much faster with a 47.69 as her in-season best from the 2011 Georgia Fall Invitational, but that’s all she needed to make a solid push in terms of the Arena Grand Prix overall circuit tally.
Minnesota’s Lauren Votava just missed her lifetime best with a 48.94 for second, coming up short of the 48.80 relay leadoff she threw down for the Golden Gophers at the 2013 Big Ten Championships last February. Teammate Rebecca Weiland finished third in 49.40.
Minnesota’s Kiera Janzen controlled the women’s 1650-yard freestyle for the final 1000 yards en route to a 16:05.38 to open the night. That’s her best in-season swim by far, blasting the 16:24.83 she clocked here at the Grand Prix last year, and stands as her third-best time ever behind a pair of 16:04s from the 2013 collegiate championship season.
Minnesota’s Ashley Steenvoorden made it a Golden Gopher 1-2 in the finale with a 16:10.13, while 14-year-old Isabella Rongione of The Fish earned third-place honors with a lifetime best 16:12.22. That swim clipped her previous best time of 16:12.69 from the 2013 PV Short Course Senior Championships in March.
Rongione didn’t go far after her strong swim, however, as the youngster turned right around and got back up on the blocks for the B final in the women’s 200-yard IM. She wound up finishing last in the finale with a 2:09.24 but still earned a huge ovation from the crowd.
Minnesota kept up a strong opening salvo for the Golden Gophers as Kierra Smith topped the 200-yard IM in 1:57.80, edging teammate Tori Simenec, who clocked a 1:57.84. Smith obliterated her lifetime best of 1:59.29 from the 2013 Big Ten Championships, while Simenec just missed her best of 1:57.11 also from the same meet.
Mount Pleasant youngster Megan Kingsley continued her breakout meet with a third-place time of 2:00.34. That’s her second best time ever, just off a 1:59.47 from the 2013 NCSA Junior Championships that were broadcast live by SwimmingWorld.TV.
Fresh off taking a torch to the 25-29 FINA Masters World Record books, Darian Townsend touched out NBAC’s Conor Dwyer in the men’s 200-yard IM with a top time of 1:43.73. That’s Townsend’s fourth-fastest time ever in the event’s history. Dwyer finished just behind with a 1:43.76 as he continued his strong meet here in Minneapolis, cutting two seconds off his personal best of 1:45.77 from the 2013 Winter National Championships last December. Austin Surhoff, also of NBAC, closed out the top three with a 1:44.92.
Minnesota’s Tess Behrens kept the ball rolling for the Golden Gophers as the women’s squad has been wrecking shop this evening. She touched in 1:55.83 to top the women’s 200-yardbackstroke. That’s her first time under 1:56 in-season, bettering the 1:56.07 she clocked here at the Arena Grand Prix last season.
Young Ashlyn Schoof, 14, of Schroeder took second in 1:56.77 as she had a breakout day. The youngster previously had only cleared 2:00 once in her life with a 1:59.64 from the Wisconsin 13 & Over State Championships in February of this year. Today, she posted a 1:57.89 in prelims before capturing a medal tonight. Gator’s Fernanda Gonzalez Ramirez completed the top three in 1:57.68.
Russian Olympian Arkady Vyatchanin, who is still pursuing his options to change his sports citizenship away from Russia, smashed the field in the men’s 200-yard backstroke with a swift 1:41.45. That’s his third-fastest time ever, and he made it look easy. His other top times are a 1:38.22 and 1:41.27 from the 2012 Winter National Championships.
Greenwood Memorial’s Ryan Harty claimed second in 1:43.53, just missing his lifetime best of 1:43.34 from the 2012 NE GMSC Senior Championships. Meanwhile, Louisville’s Pedro Oliveira captured third in 1:44.63.
The Woodlands’ Michael McBroom demolished the field in the final race of the night as he clocked a 14:41.10. That’s the fifth-best time ever for McBroom, beating his previous in-season best of 14:48.44 by a mile. Club Wolverine’s Michael Klueh touched second in 14:54.39, while BAD’s Ryan Feeley claimed third-place honors in 15:04.25.