By Erin Greene
ANN ARBOR, Michigan, May 17. THE Eric Namesnik Memorial Grand Prix held in Ann Arbor, Michigan from May 17-20 opened the summer long course season for the United States. The four-day meet will follow the format to be featured in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games by reversing the traditional prelims and finals set up.
Women's 400 freestyle
Club Wolverine got off to a strong start as Emily Brunemann and two-time Olympian Kaitlin Sandeno occupy the Top 2 spots heading into the final session tomorrow morning. Brunemann was the first flip at the half-way mark (2:07.74) and held onto her lead for the next 200 meters for a final time of 4:17.72. Not to be outdone, Sandeno paced her teammate stroke for stroke, touching in at 4:17.85. Claire Maust of Athens Bulldog Swim Club rounded out the preliminary Top 3 in a time of 4:18.40.
Kim Vandenberg, who clocked the fastest 100-meter split (1:02.05), occupies fourth place. She improved her seed time by nine seconds to complete the mid-distance race in 4:19.59. Elizabeth Beisel also swam under her entry time to take fifth place. At just 14 years of age, the Bluefish Swim Club member proved she is a force to be reckoned with when she posted a time of 4:20.84. Joining her as a youngster in the Top 8 is Monica Drake with a time of 4:21.13.
Caroline Burckle, who finished second in the 500-yard freestyle at the NCAA championships, earned the seventh-place seed in 4:21.86. Emily Hanson became the third athlete for Club Wolverine to qualify for the finals when she swam the event in 4:22.27.
Men's 400 freestyle
Competing in the men's 400-meter freestyle is a talented field of distance swimmers. Not surprisingly, Michael Phelps led that field, as he is the top seed heading into finals in his home pool. The superstar swimmer touched in at 3:58.64 followed by teammate Peter Vanderkaay (3:59.16). Also swimming the event under four minutes was Robert Margalis, who led the race at the 200-meter mark. He finished the race with the third fastest time of 3:59.52.
But Club Wolverine was not done. Three more swimmers, Davis Tarwater, Matt Patton and Charlie Houchin each qualified for the finals. Tarwater occupies fourth place with the final sub-four minute time of 3:59.76, while Patton touched in next at 4:00.37. Houchin earned a place in the Top 8 when he beat out Olympian Ryan Lochte in 4:00.82.
Also qualifying for the final heat was Matt Owen of the Athens Bulldog Swim Club and Daniel Madwed of North Baltimore. Owen swam the sixth-fastest time of 4:00.45, while Madwed recorded a time of 4:00.66 for seventh.
Women's 200 IM
A youth movement stormed the 200 IM as six teenagers claimed eight of the available championship heat spots. Fresh off a World Championship run, Elizabeth Beisel, 14, of Bluefish topped qualifying with a time of 2:18.61. She was followed by hometown swimmer Kaitlin Sandeno of Club Wolverine (2:18.80).
Felicia Lee, 14, of North Baltimore Aquatic Club picked up third in 2:18.84, while Margaret Kelly, 19, of Club Wolverine finished fourth in 2:19.11.
The rest of the top eight were comprised of Jemma Lowe, 17, of Nofio Cymru (2:20.03), Ava Ohlgren of Auburn (2:20.69), Karie Haglund, 19, of Big Cat Swimming (2:20.99) and Paige Schultz, 15, of Texas Swimming.
Men's 200 IM
Match a men's individual medley with Ann Arbor, Mich., and it is obvious who you end up with leading qualifying – Michael Phelps. Phelps clocked a 2:06.95 with the best preliminary time, while Keith Beavers of Waterloo, Ontario took second in 2:07.52.
Phelps' top rival in the IM events, Ryan Lochte of Daytona Beach Swimming, placed third in 2:07.61, while Dane Grenda finished fourth in 2:07.75.
Other swimmers making their way to the championship heat in the morning will be Robert Margalis of Saint Petersburg (2:07.94), Tyler Harris of Poseidon Swimming (2:08.56), Bogdan Knezevic of Etobicoke Swimming (2:09.19) and Pat Mellors of JCC Sailfish Swimming (2:09.54).
Women's 50 freestyle
A mixed bag of competitors will battle for the women's splash-and-dash title at the Namesnik meet. Vanessa Garcia of Puerto Rico posted the top qualifying time of 26.23, while Kara Denby of Auburn placed second in 26.32.
Club Wolverine's Margaret Kelly touched third in 26.40, while Kim Vandenberg of UCLA Swimming clocked in at fourth in 26.43.
Superstar Katie Hoff of North Baltimore Aquatic Club, swimming in an off event, placed fifth in 26.47, while Kim Jasmer earned sixth in 26.57.
The final two swims in the big final will come from Emily Wong of Northwestern (26.61) and Megan Romano of Saint Petersburg (26.68).
Men's 50 freestyle
In the men's 50 free, Bryan Lundquist clocked a 23.78 to earn the top seed tomorrow morning. Meanwhile, Kyle Smerdon of Texas Swimming (23.80), Bennett Clark of Mizzou Swimming (23.81) and Joseph Smutz of the Athens Bulldogs (23.90) made up the rest of the top four.
In the lower half of the championship heat, Derrick Roe of Club Wolverine placed fifth in 23.93, while Adam Schmitt of Capital Area Swimming (24.06), Peter Verhoef of the Athens Bulldogs (24.12) and Joe Bartoch of London Aquatics (24.21) completed the rest of the top eight.