Arena Grand Prix ‘ Minneapolis: Yannick Agnel Lights Up Crowd With Scintillating 200 Free

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MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota, November 14. THE stars were definitely out tonight, but none burned brighter than French Olympic champion Yannick Agnel at the Arena Grand Prix in Minneapolis.

In just his second time swimming the event in yards format, North Baltimore’s Yannick Agnel blitzed the 200-yard freestyle finale with a 1:31.90. That swim is the seventh best all time, and demonstrates just how scary the reigning 200-meter free Olympic gold medalist could be if he put a bit of focus into short course.

Agnel’s training partner Conor Dwyer snared second with a sizzling 1:32.09, his second best effort in the event ever. His best time was a 1:31.73 relay leadoff at the 2011 Southeastern Conference Championships. His best in-season time had been his prelim 1:34.27 from this morning. Trojan’s Nikita Lobintsev rounded out the podium with a third-place time of 1:33.45.

Agnel went on to win the B final in the 100-yard fly with a 48.21. A fellow Olympic gold medalist, however, smoked the big final as Cesar Cielo of Brazil won in 46.19. Cielo will be competing in U.S. events with much more regularity now that he’s relocated to Tempe, Ariz., to train at Sun Devil Aquatics.

NYAC’s Adam Brown powered his way to second-place honors in 46.66, while Wisconsin’s Dan Lester took home third with a 46.95. In the B final, Michael Andrew, the 14-year-old young professional swimmer, broke a tie for the U.S. National Age Group record for 13-14 age division as he took 13th with a 48.78. That swim beat the 48.98 owned by both Andrew and Michael Domagala.

World champion Megan Romano, one of the most dangerous freestyle relay legs in the world, snatched the women’s 200-yard freestyle title from Minnesota’s Kiera Janzen, 1:45.29 to 1:45.43, in the finale. That’s less than a second off Romano’s best in-season time ever of a 1:44.33 at the Georgia Fall Invitational back in 2011, which is a strong indicator for the Bulldog going forward.

Janzen, meanwhile, used the added competition from Romano to nearly post a lifetime best. Her best ever is a 1:45.20 at the Big Ten Championships last February. She clearly beat her in-season best of 1:46.70 from prelims this morning. Janzen’s training partner Tori Simenec snagged third-place honors with a 1:46.02, smashing her previous personal best of 1:46.81 set way back in 2008 at the Junior National Championships that year.

Haley Spencer continued what has been a good evening for the host Gophers as she clipped fellow Gopher Kierra Smith, 1:00.26 to 1:00.33, in the women’s 100-yard breaststroke. That’s an in-season best for Spencer, bettering her 1:00.35 from the 2010 Grand Prix here in Minnesota.

Smith, meanwhile, nearly cleared her all-time personal record of 1:00.30 from the 2013 Big Ten Championships. In fact, tonight’s second-place time is her second-fastest ever, crushing her in-season best of 1:01.77 set this morning. Laura Day concluded the top three with a 1:02.44.

Palo Alto’s BJ Johnson followed by blasting his lifetime best in the 100-yard breast with a 52.58 for the win. That effort bettered his 52.86 from the 2012 Oklahoma Elite Meet last December, and put him ahead of the rest of the pack.

Grand Canyon’s Eetu Karvonen pocketed second with a time of 52.73, his in-season best by a mile. That swim downed his 53.31 from the 2012 Husky Invitational, and is just the second time for the Finnish man under 53 seconds. His lifetime best is a 52.65 from the 2013 NCAA DII Championships. Mike Alexandrov, a multiple Olympian and longtime veteran of the sport, clinched third with a 52.90.

Western Kentucky’s Claire Donahue, an Olympian in the butterfly, put up the second-best swim of her life in 100-yard fly with a 51.80 for the win. Her best ever is a 51.68 from the 2011 NCAA DI Championships. This is by far her best in-season time, crushing the 52.71 she posted here in Minneapolis last year.

Minnesota’s Rebecca Weiland clocked a 52.47 for second, just missing her in-season best of a 52.42 set during prelims this morning, while Mount Pleasant’s Megan Kingsley clocked a 54.08 to take third overall with her sixth-best time in her career.

California’s Caitlin Leverenz cruised to victory in the women’s 400-yard IM with a time of 4:07.08. That’s far from her in-season best of a 4:00.59 from the Georgia Fall Invitational in 2011, but she didn’t need nearly that type of speed for the win. Breanne Siwicki, meanwhile, checked in with a second-place time of 4:11.94, while Kingsley collected her second podium of the night after a back-to-back double from the 100 fly with a third-place 4:13.40.

Following his second-place swim to follow Agnel in the 200 free to open the event, NBAC’s Conor Dwyer earned his own title with a 3:40.03 to demolish the field in the men’s 400-yard IM. That swim is the second-fastest he’s ever been in the event, behind only his stunning 3:37.75 from the 2011 Southeastern Conference Championships. TWST’s Michael McBroom took second in 3:47.66, while Guillermo Blanco touched third in 3:48.26.

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