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SANTA CLARA, California, May 31. TONIGHT featured the first evening filled with a complete slate of finals competition at the Arena Grand Prix stop in Santa Clara. California's Nathan Adrian blazed his way to a meet record, while Megan Romano surfaced from an equally star-studded 100-meter free finale.
Women's 100 free
Athens Bulldog Megan Romano, the May cover personality for Swimming World Magazine, overtook veteran Natalie Coughlin down the stretch with a 54.16 for the win in a loaded finale. That's tied for her best in-season time ever with a similar 54.16 from the 2012 Longhorn Elite Invite, and just off her lifetime best of 53.92 from the 2012 U.S. Open. Romano definitely is putting herself in position to make a serious run as the Worlds squad later this summer in Indy, just missing the top 10 in the world with her time tonight.
Coughlin, who led through about the initial 85 meters and looked like she would win the race going away, wound up fading a bit as Romano surged past her. Coughlin still managed to turn in a strong time of 54.33 for second-place honors. Colorado Stars' Missy Franklin rounded out the podium with a third-place time of 54.56 as she got back on track on the Arena Grand Prix circuit after taking last meet off for her 18th birthday and the Warrior Games.
Australia's Brittany Elmslie (54.85), NBAC's Allison Schmitt (55.52), Tucson Ford's Margo Geer (55.65), Victoria Poon (55.67), First Colony's Simone Manuel (55.73) and Stanford's Andi Murez (55.91) also competed in the finale.
Gator's Ellese Zalewski raced to a 55.25 to win the women's 100-meter free. Along with her 55.78 from this morning, those are her only two sub-56 times in her career. Coming into today, her previous best had been a 56.17 from the 2011 Southern Sectionals.
Men's 100 free
The men's 100 free close out an impressive amount of Olympic talent as 48 total Olympic medals were on display in just the first two events this evening.
California's Nathan Adrian utilized a ridiculous backhalf to power to a body-length win with a meet-record performance of 48.08. That swim blasted the 48.44 set by Canada's Brent Hayden in 2009 as the meet mark, and bettered Adrian's previous season best of 48.11 from Marseilles earlier in the year. He just missed leapfrogging Cameron McEvoy (48.07) into third in the world this year. James Magnussen (47.53) and Vlad Morozov (47.93) hold the top two times in the world this year.
Gators Ryan Lochte and Conor Dwyer followed up with second and third-place honors in the sprint finale. Lochte rolled to a 49.53, which is just half-a-second off his in-season best of 49.04 from the 2008 Southern Sectional Championships. Dwyer, meanwhile, placed third in 49.59 to match his prelim time as both stand as his lifetime bests. Coming into today, he'd never broken 50 seconds with a previous lifetime best of 50.21 from the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials.
Fiat Minas' Nicolas Oliveira (49.60), Longhorn's Jimmy Feigen (49.69), California's Anthony Ervin (49.93), SCCP's Fernando dos Santos (50.30), California's Fabio Gimondi (50.56) and Tucson Ford's Matt Grevers (51.29) also swam in the finale. Ervin, notably, had an aggressive strategy out in 22.73 ahead of Adrian's 22.82, but could not hold on down the stretch.
Women's 200 breast
After an amazing short course yard outing for her Texas Longhorns at the 2013 NCAA Championships where she won the 200-yard breast, Laura Sogar is rounding into long course form demonstrated by a 2:26.56 to win the women's 200-meter event tonight. That's her fastest in-season time in the event, bettering her 2:27.17 from this morning. Her best ever is a 2:25.15 from the 2012 U.S. Open last summer.
SwimMAC's Micah Lawrence snagged second-place honors with a 2:27.32, well off her in-season best of 2:24.62 from last year's Charlotte UltraSwim. California's Caitlin Leverenz checked in third with a time of 2:27.35 as she just edged NBAC's Annie Zhu (2:27.42) for the final podium spot.
Swim Ontario's Martha McCabe (2:27.96), SBSC's Katy Freeman (2:28.15), Australia's Jenna Strauch (2:28.51), Stanford's Katie Olsen (2:30.51) and Anne Lazor (2:32.47) also vied for the meet title in the longer distance breaststroke event tonight.
Men's 200 breast
Tucson Ford's Kevin Cordes shot into the top 10 in the world this year with a near lifetime best time of 2:10.95. That time nearly beat his 2:10.92 from the 2012 U.S. Open Championships last summer as his lifetime best, and just missed Brenton Rickard's 2009 meet record of 2:10.37. Cordes' dominant time this evening did, however, vault him to ninth in the world as the only American in the top 10 this year.
Trojan's Glenn Snyders placed second this evening in 2:13.63 as Cordes was well out front for the win. Snyders' teammate Mike Alexandrov wound up third with a 2:14.02 to push his race winnings to $4,800 overall on the Arena Grand Prix circuit. He's one of the top swimmers on the money list with his continual podium finishes.
California's Josh Prenot (2:14.40), Tucson Ford's Clark Burckle (2:14.91), Fiat Minas' Felipe Lima (2:15.55), NBAC's Chase Kalisz (2:15.57), Club Wolverine's Richard Funk (2:17.24) and Trojan's Azad Al-Barazi (2:17.28) also competed in the finale.
Women's 400 free
NBAC's Gillian Ryan turned on the afterburners down the final 50 meters after turning towards the back half of the field at the 350-meter mark. That effort helped her to a touchout triumph with a wining 4:11.83.
Unfortunately for Alexa Komarnycky and NBAC's Allison Schmitt, they couldn't see Ryan putting on the steam down in lane 7 as Komarnycky and Schmitt were neck-and-neck in the center of the pool trading body shots throughout the swim. Komarnycky managed to edge Schmitt with a second-place time of 4:11.93 against Schmitt's third-place effort of 4:11.97.
Stanford's Maya Dirado (4:12.11), Athens Bulldog's Shannon Vreeland (4:12.26), Terrapins' Chelsea Chenault (4:14.09), Stanford's Andrea Taylor (4:14.14), PPO's Barbara Jardin (4:14.30) and NBAC's Cierra Runge (4:14.77) chased the leaders in the finale.
Men's 400 free
Michigan's Connor Jaeger, the winner of the 800-meter free last night, came through with his second victory of the meet with a sensational time of 3:46.93 in the middle-distance finale. That performance blasted his previous lifetime best of 3:48.06 and skyrocketed him to seventh in the world this year. He actually jumped ahead of Ryan Cochrane's 3:47.08 from Canadian Trials in the process.
Lake Forest's Conor Dwyer continued what has turned into one of his strongest career meets as he blazed his way to a second-place time of 3:48.20. That effort moved him to 10th in the world, and finished just two seconds off his lifetime best of 3:46.24 from the 2012 London Olympics. Cochrane, meanwhile, checked in third with a 3:49.62 after clocking a 3:49.81 in prelims.
Club Wolverine's Anders Nielsen (3:51.50), Michael Klueh (3:52.00) and Tyler Clary (3:52.93) finished fourth through sixth with a strong Big Blue effort. Meanwhile, Australia's Mack Horton (3:54.07), Island's Jeremy Bagshaw (3:54.53) and Crimson's Liam Egan (3:56.54) also participated in the championship finale.
Coming down off altitude training at the U.S. Olympic Training Center, China's Zhang Jie tied Island's Keegan Zanatta for the B final win with matching times of 3:55.30.
Women's 100 fly
In a stunning finish, Canada's Katerine Savard overpowered world-record holder Dana Vollmer down the stretch to win the women's 100-meter fly 58.83 to 58.90. Vollmer went out hard with a 27.55 at the halfway mark, with Savard flipping just behind with a 27.57. Savard, however, had just a bit more in the tank down the finish to outsplit Vollmer, 31.26 to 31.35.
Vollmer had been looking to beat her season-best time of 58.24 from the Charlotte UltraSwim, which ranks 10th in the world. But, it wasn't in the cards this evening. USC's Kendyl Stewart raced to a third-place finish of 59.22, which is her third-fastest time ever. Her best times are both from 2011 U.S. Nationals with a 59.06 and 59.17 to her credit.
PPO's Audrey Lacroix (59.89), Greece's Kristel Vourna (59.97), Stanford's Felicia Lee (59.99), PASA's Jasmine Tosky (1:00.14), Gator's Ellese Zalewski (1:00.28) and Redlands' Sonia Wang (1:00.84) also competed in the championship heat. California's Rachel Bootsma threw down a 59.94 for the B final win.
Men's 100 fly
Olympic star Ryan Lochte, wearing a jammer as explained earlier today for the first time in-season, utilized a superior backhalf to snag the men's 100-meter fly title in a time of 52.29. That swim is now his in-season best, bettering his 52.32 from the 2012 Indianapolis Grand Prix. His best times ever came during the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials with a 51.65 and 52.21.
Olympian Tyler McGill clinched the second-place spot with a time of 52.42, while Kenya's Jason Dunford wound up third in 52.69. McGill has been much faster historically with a 50.90 from the techsuit era at the 2009 World Championships, and a 51.26 at the 2011 World Championships. His swim tonight, however, did rival his in-season best of 52.25 from the 2010 Richard Quick Invitational.
Stanford's Eugene Godsoe (52.85), California's Tom Shields (53.10), Tucson Ford's Giles Smith (53.14), Switzerland's Nico van Duijn (53.39), East Bay's David Seiler (54.12) and Terrapins' Justin Lynch (54.13) also put up times in the championship field.