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Commentary by Kayla Simon
SANTA CLARA, California, June 21. DAY three of the Arena Grand Prix at Santa Clara has come to a close, and it was yet another fantastic day of swimming. The morning prelims included a few notable scratches (NCAA champions Maya DiRado and Ryan Murphy in the 400 IM and the 200 back respectively, and Nathan Adrian in the 50 free), but the evening finals gave the packed house much to cheer about.
BEISEL’S BIG NIGHT
If ever there was a swimmer who deserved to be crowned Swimmer of the Day, it absolutely would have to be Elizabeth Beisel. She started the day by posting the top time in the 400 IM heats (4:41.90), and positioning herself in a respectable fourth after the heats of the 200 back. It was a solid performance in what would have to be considered one of the most difficult doubles to do in all of swimming!
But the results of the prelims were just the tip of the iceberg. In the first championship final of the evening, Elizabeth powered her way to a convincing win in the 400 IM. She trailed Caitlin Leverenz and Becca Mann after the fly leg, but used her strength in the backstroke to move into first place, where she stayed for good. Her final time of 4:33.52 bested second-place finisher Becca Mann’s time by more than 6 seconds, and it was enough to place her fourth in the world in the event this year. And then in the second race of her evening double, the 200 back, she came from behind after the first 100 meters to overtake the leaders, Elizabeth Pelton and Missy Franklin, and pick up the win in a time of 2:09.11. It was nothing short of epic!
CHASE GETS IT DONE
The championship final for the women’s 400 IM was not the only event in Day 3’s evening session that showcased a winner whose time was more than a few seconds faster than the second-place finisher. On the men’s side of the 400 IM, Chase Kalisz used an insanely good breaststroke leg to propel himself into the winner’s circle. He looked good in the prelims, easily earning the top seed for the championship final, so it was not a stretch to view him as a legitimate contender in the event.
But the sub 1.10 split that he swam on the breast leg was beyond amazing – definitely a key factor to his success in the race. And he posted a winning time that was second only to his winning time at the World Championships last year (4:11.71 vs. 4:09.22), so that made the race even more impressive. The future of the event for the American men looks bright!
It was a sweep for North Baltimore Aquatics Club in the championship final of the men’s 200 free. With 4 swimmers entered in the race (Conor Dwyer, Yannick Agnel, Michael Phelps, and Matt McLean), it did not seem out of the realm of possibility that at least one of them would end up in the top three, especially considering the history that they have in the event. And the excitement over the race was heightened by the fact that it was the first time Michael was in a 200 free final since his return to the sport. But in the end, it was Yannick who beat the field to win in a time of 1:46.99. Michael placed second in 1:48.20 and Conor placed third in 1:48.36.