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SANTA CLARA, California, June 2. THE final night of the Arena Grand Prix circuit this year put an exclamation point on the series as several stunning swims went up on the scoreboard tonight.
Women's 200 fly
It might not have been her season-best, a sixth-ranked 2:07.89 from the Canadian World Trials, but Audrey Lacroix certainly got the job done with a tremendous back half as she raced to a 2:08.64 for the win. The Canadian Olympian is gearing up for Worlds in Barcelona, but will need a bit more to catch up to the likes of Jiao Liuyang, who leads the world with a blistering 2:05.87 from Chinese Nationals.
Palo Alto's Jasmine Tosky came the closest to Lacroix, taking second overall with a 2:10.89, while Bluefish's Elizabeth Beisel earned third-place honors in 2:12.74. Beisel finally had the chance to wear more than a training suit, and it showed as she earned a podium spot.
California's Caitlin Leverenz (2:13.76), Tualatin Hills' Michelle Cefal (2:14.11), Redlands' Sonia Wang (2:14.44), Pleasanton's Celina Li (2:14.94) and Nova's Emma Nunn (2:15.58) rounded out the top eight, while Mexico's Rita Medrano Munoz had a bit of a fly and die approach as she went out with Lacroix at the 100-meter mark with a 1:01.25 before fading to ninth with a 2:23.12.
Palo Alto's Ally Howe lowered her lifetime best during the B final of the event with a winning time of 2:12.83. That's her first time under 2:13, breaking her previous personal record of 2:13.41 from the 2011 Michigan Grand Prix. Today's time had some foreshadowing with her strong 2:14.16 from the Austin stop of the Grand Prix earlier this year.
Men's 200 fly
Fresno Dolphin 16-year-old Justin Wright pulled off a gigantic upset as he came home in 30.02 to top the 200-meter fly field with a sizzling 1:57.90. That swim demolished his previous lifetime best of 1:59.48 from the 2012 Junior Pan Pacific Championships, and shot him into the national conscience heading into the World Championship Trials this summer.
Tom Luchsinger and Club Wolverine's Tyler Clary initially took the swim out hard with 56.8s at the halfway mark with Clary in the lead by a hand. Neither one of them saw Wright turn on the steam down the final 50 meters as they were focused on each other. Luchsinger managed to post a 1:58.26, edging Clary's 1:58.53 at the wall for second place overall.
Club Wolverine's Dan Madwed (1:59.78), Tom Kremer (1:59.91), Stanford's Bobby Bollier (2:00.00), Switzerland's Nico van Duijn (2:00.07), Club Wolverine's Michael Klueh (2:00.32) and Swim Ontario's Zack Chetrat (2:00.61) also vied for the meet title this evening in what turned out to be a surprising finish.
Women's 100 breast
Trojan's Jessica Hardy, the world-record holder in the event, cracked 1:07 for the first time this season with a scorching time of 1:06.86. She already stood fourth in the world this year with her 1:07.03 from the Charlotte stop of the Arena Grand Prix, but just missed clearing Ruta Meilutyte's 1:06.75 to grab third in the world rankings. Hardy actually pushed the pace extremely hard early with a 31.23 before coming home in 35.63 to have more than enough to take the win.
Australia's Samantha Marshall took down second-place honors in the event with a time of 1:08.00, about a half-a-second outside the top 10 in the world rankings, while Longhorn's Laura Sogar finished third with a time of 1:08.41. Sogar came a second short of her lifetime and season best of 1:07.57 set at the Charlotte stop earlier this year after winning the 200-meter breaststroke earlier this meet.
Wisconsin's Ashley Wanland (1:08.62), SoFlo's Alia Atkinson (1:08.70), SBSC's Katy Freeman (1:09.38), Mexico's Erica Dittmer (1:10.46), Swim Ontario's Martha McCabe (1:10.50) and Club Wolverine's Angela Chokran (1:10.71) picked up the rest of the championship finale finishes this evening.
Men's 100 breast
Tucson Ford's Kevin Cordes completed the breaststroke sweep as he added the 100-meter triumph to his 200-meter breast win from earlier in the meet. Cordes turned in a 1:00.47 to match his lifetime best from the 2012 U.S. Open last summer. His swim nearly cracked the top 10 in the world, currently anchored by Mattia Pesce with a 1:00.37 from Italian Nationals.
Cordes continues to round into form in long course meters, as he is already the most dangerous short course breaststroker in the world after his outstanding performances for Arizona at the NCAA Championships.
Trojan's Glenn Snyders, who already stands fifth in the world with a sterling 1:00.14 from New Zealand Nationals earlier this year, took home silver with a time of 1:00.99, while Fiat's Felipe Lima rounded out the podium cash winners with a third-place effort of 1:01.21.
Trojan's Mike Alexandrov missed the podium, a rare occasion on the Arena Grand Prix circuit, taking fourth with a 1:01.43, while training partner Azad Al-Barazi finished fifth in 1:01.83.
Club Wolverine's Richard Funk (1:02.64), PASA's BJ Johnson (1:02.65), UCD's Scott Weltz (1:03.22) and Tucson Ford's Clark Burckle (1:03.34) also competed in the championship heat.
Women's 100 back
California head coach Teri McKeever can only be smiling with joy as she looks forward to the top three trio tonight all training together in Berkeley.
First, current Golden Bear Elizabeth Pelton became just the eight sub-1:00 swimmer this year with a blazing time of 59.88 to win this evening. That swim vaulted her to sixth in the world rankings as the second-best American behind Missy Franklin's third-ranked 59.34 from the Orlando stop of the Arena Grand Prix. That's Pelton's lifetime best in the event, as her only previous sub 1:00 time came with a 59.99 from the 2010 Paris Invitational.
Franklin, a future Golden Bear this coming fall, nearly cracked 1:00 tonight with a 1:00.02 to take second in the event. She came storming home, but just ran out of room as Pelton got her hand to the wall first. The third Golden Bear connected swimmer, Olympian Rachel Bootsma, raced to third in 1:00.97. That training group, as Pelton explained in her pre-meet interview, could take the 100 backstroke to unheard of levels.
USC's Kendyl Stewart (1:01.17), Australia's Emily Seebohm (1:01.73), Athens Bulldogs' Megan Romano (1:02.13), Tucson Ford's Bonnie Brandon (1:02.22), Cindy Tran (1:02.98) and Dynamo's Kylie Stewart (1:03.05) also swam in the incredibly deep finale. Seebohm actually stands as the second-best swimmer in the world this year with a 59.17 from Australian Nationals earlier this year.
Men's 100 back
Tucson Ford's Matt Grevers looked like he was going to run away with the 100-meter backstroke title, especially after taking the swim out in 26.53, but Russia's Arkady Vyatchanin turned up the heat down the stretch with a final 50-meter split of 27.63 to force a tie atop the podium with matching 54.47s.
Both swimmers have been faster this year with Vyatchanin clocking a 53.47 at Russian Nationals, while Grevers posted a 53.75 at the Austin stop of the Arena Grand Prix as Vyatchanin and Grevers stand fourth and ninth in the world rankings. Vyatchanin is a bit of a Ronin right now as he searches for a new country to represent. He pulled himself out of the Russian Worlds squad earlier this year with plans on changing to another sports citizenship.
Stanford's Eugene Godsoe (54.69), Club Wolverine's Junya Koga (54.91), Tucson Ford's Bobby Hurley (54.97), Wisconsin's Andrew teDuits (55.20), California's Jacob Pebley (55.22), Gator's Corey Main (55.40) and Redlands' Daniil Bukin (57.56) also competed in the finale. Ryan Lochte, who lead prelims with a 54.95, elected to scratch this event tonight.
Women's 200 IM
California's Caitlin Leverenz, the reigning Olympic bronze medalist, used her patented breaststroke leg (37.00) to power past the field en route to a dominant victory in the women's 200-meter IM. Leverenz charted a time of 2:11.87 to sweep the IM events this week. She also just missed moving into the top 10 in the world this year, a group anchored by a 2:11.73 from Zhang Wenqing at the Chinese Nationals.
Colorado Stars' Missy Franklin, one of the most dynamic 200 IMers in the country herself, took second in 2:13.56, while California's Elizabeth Pelton managed a strong 2:13.95 shortly after rocking a sub-1:00 lifetime best in the 100-meter backstroke just minutes earlier in the evening.
Bluefish's Elizabeth Beisel (2:14.71), PASA's Jasmine Tosky (2:15.85), Australia's Emily Seebohm (2:16.24), Swim Ontario's Marni Oldershaw (2:16.38), Pleasanton's Celina Li (2:16.52) and NBAC's Cierra Runge (2:17.97) finished fourth through ninth in the championship finale.
Men's 200 IM
After scratching the 100 back to focus on this event, Olympic superstar collected his fourth title of the meet with a smoking time of 1:58.07. That swim just missed Michael Phelps' 2006 meet record of 1:57.76, but skyrocketed Lochte to seventh in the world rankings. He's definitely the top American in the event this year.
When all is said and done, Lochte looks much more ready for the championship season than he did at both the Mesa and the Charlotte stops of the Arena Grand Prix. Although, he did admit in a post-race interview that he may consider a bit of a taper at World Trials to make sure he make the squad in the events he chooses. That's a much different strategy than swimming through Trials that he typically does before a full taper for his ultimate meet of the season.
Conor Dwyer finished well behind with a second-place time of 2:00.19, about a second off his in-season best of 1:59.19 from the 2012 Charlotte UltraSwim. NBAC's Chase Kalisz raced to third in 2:01.11 to round out the top three.
Club Wolverine's Tyler Clary (2:02.39), Club Wolverine's Kyle Whitaker (2:02.83), California's Josh Prenot (2:02.91), Fiat Minas' Fernando da Silva (2:04.74), Dynamo's Gunnar Bentz (2:04.75) and California's Adam Hinshaw (2:05.07) snared the rest of the final finishes.
Women's 800 free
It took a blazing 29.33 final 50 meters to do it, but NBAC's Gillian Ryan stormed to her second distance victory of the meet with an 8:36.49. She's been much faster in her career with an in-season best of 8:30.24 from the CeraVe Invitational earlier this year, but she didn't need that consistent of speed to win this evening. She just had to keep Alexa Komarnycky in her sites heading into the final 50 meters. Komarnycky, meanwhile, checked in with a second-place time of 8:36.93 as she watched Ryan roar right past her for the win.
1 Ryan, Gillian 17 North Baltimore- 8:27.64 8:36.49
30.66 1:03.25 (32.59)
1:36.23 (32.98) 2:09.13 (32.90)
2:42.00 (32.87) 3:15.14 (33.14)
3:48.10 (32.96) 4:20.96 (32.86)
4:51.23 (30.27) 5:26.66 (35.43)
5:56.27 (29.61) 6:32.03 (35.76)
7:04.17 (32.14) 7:36.07 (31.90)
8:07.16 (31.09) 8:36.49 (29.33)
2 Komarnycky, Alexa 23 Island Swimming- 8:28.11 8:36.93
30.69 1:02.92 (32.23)
1:35.18 (32.26) 2:07.29 (32.11)
2:39.44 (32.15) 3:11.50 (32.06)
3:43.96 (32.46) 4:16.55 (32.59)
4:49.06 (32.51) 5:21.80 (32.74)
5:54.67 (32.87) 6:27.21 (32.54)
6:59.78 (32.57) 7:32.32 (32.54)
8:05.07 (32.75) 8:36.93 (31.86)
Stephanie Peacock, still rounding into form after missing her entire short course yard championship season with North Carolina due to a mysterious illness, finished third in 8:39.47.
Mexico's Charetzeni Escobar Torres (8:42.07), Athens Bulldogs' Amber McDermott (8:46.77), Canada's Tabitha Baumann (8:48.31), Tucson Ford's Bonnie Brandon (8:50.88), Terrapins' Chelsea Chenault (8:52.36) and Swim Ontario's Heather Maitland (8:53.53) rounded out the top nine finishers in the timed final event.
Men's 1500 free
Australia's Mack Horton, definitely the top miler in the field this year with a fifth-ranked 14:59.66 from Australian Nationals, had to push the pace down the final 50 meters en route to winning the metric mile in 15:13.67.
Horton, known as the next Grant Hackett from Down Under, had to clock a 27.54 in the final 50 meters as former European Swimmer of the Year Mateusz Sawrymowicz had initially taken the lead with about 100 meters to go. Sawrymowicz managed a 27.99 in the final 50 meters to wind up second overall in 15:14.08.
Stanford's Chad La Tourette finished third overall in a time of 15:28.22, while Crimson's Liam Egan picked up fourth in 15:44.58 from the earlier heats. Club Wolverine's Anders Nielsen (15:45.29), Daniel Thomson (15:50.79), Minas' Lucas Kanieski (15:55.83), Wisconsin's Michael Weiss (16:00.59) and Gator;s William Silva (16:03.22) registered the rest of the top nine swims in the mile.