Lezak, Coughlin Blaze to 100 Free Wins in Second Day of Janet Evans Invitational

LOS ANGELES, Calif., July 14. JASON Lezak captured gold in the 100 LCM freestyle in the fastest time posted by an American in the event this year, while 2004 Olympic medalist Natalie Coughlin claimed the women’s 100 free on Friday at the Janet Evans Invitational at the McDonald’s Swim Stadium in Los Angeles, Calif.

Meanwhile, Larsen Jensen and Adrienne Binder picked up the second triumphs in as many days with solid time in the 400 freestyle.

Lezak, the American record holder in the 100-meter freestyle, touched in 49.04 seconds, which bettered the Janet Evans Invitational meet record of 49.20 seconds he set when winning the race in 2004. Roland Schoeman, who captured gold at the 2004 Olympics as a member of South Africa’s world record 400-meter freestyle relay team, came in second in 49.87 seconds. Nick Brunelli finished third in 49.94 seconds. Lezak’s time ranks fourth fastest in the world this year for the event.

“When I pushed off the wall, I knew it was going to be a fast swim because I can usually tell how much speed I have, and I was able to pull it to the wall. So I was real happy with that time,” Lezak said. “It’s going real well. This is now my fourth time under 50 [seconds this year].”

Coughlin, whose five medals at the 2004 Olympics tied her for the most medals won by a U.S. female athlete at one Olympics, led from the start of her race and pulled clear to win by nearly two seconds in 54.28 seconds. Lacey Nymeyer finished second in 56.13 seconds, and California Aquatics’ Allison Wagner placed third in 57.19 seconds.

“All I was trying to focus on was to have a good race, work my start and work my turn, and I thought if I did that I would have a great race,” Coughlin said. “Right now, my preparation is for nationals in two weeks.”

Jensen had to work hard for his victory in the men’s 400-meter freestyle on Friday. With 100 meters left to race, he sat tied with Mark Randall, the South African national champion in the event, at a 2:54.76 split for 300 meters. Jensen found another gear, swimming the final 50 meters faster than any of his other 50-meter splits. He clocked in at 3:51.18, 0.69 seconds ahead of Randall’s 3:51.87. Shaun Phillips finished third in 3:56.26.

“It was a lot more fun,” Jensen said. “You push yourself a lot harder when someone’s there. It makes it a little easier to do. When you’re by yourself it’s sometimes a little harder to get every last drop out.”

Binder cruised to the 400-meter freestyle win in wire-to-wire fashion in 4:13.75 after she won the women’s 800-meter freestyle on Thursday. Coralie Balmy of the French national team took second in 4:14.89. Chanelle Watson of Laval University in Quebec, third in Thursday’s 800-meter freestyle, placed third in the 400 meters in 4:15.66.

“I’ve always considered the 800 free more of my event, but the 400 free is kind of an event I’ve just been working on for a few years, but it’s definitely something out there,” Binder said. “I definitely feel really good about this [time].”

In the women’s 200-meter backstroke, Joanna Fargus, who won gold in the event for Australia at this year’s Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, led from the start to win in 2:13.67. Kathryn Thompson closed in the final half of the race to get up for second in 2:16.72 with Kristen Caverly and Melanie Bouchard tied for third 2:16.79.

“I’m definitely back to where I was and, in fact, better,” Fargus said. “I’m in heavy training right now, and so I just wanted a good swim before I go to [the Pan Pacific Championships] next month. So it was pretty good.”

In the men’s 200-meter butterfly, Tamas Kerekjarto, a 2004 Hungarian Olympian, closed in the 50 meters to edge Pat Cary in a time of 2:00.15. Cary finished 0.71 seconds back in second in 2:00.86, and Tom Zaferes finished third in 2:01.18.

“It’s always exciting,” Kerekjarto said. “Also I do it because I can’t go out that fast with that much speed and really have to save the juice for the last 50.”

In the women’s 200-meter butterfly, Kim Vandenberg finished first in 2:12.18. Amanda Sims, who led for the first 50 meters of the race, held on for second in 2:13.17. Stephanie Cota claimed third in 2:14.14.

“It was my last 200 fly before nationals,” Vandenberg said. “So I was trying to get everything ready for that.”

Honzhe Sun claimed the men’s 200-meter backstroke title in 2:00.53. Benjamin Stasiulis finished a close second in 2:00.70, while Tyler Clary placed third in 2:04.60.

“I’ve just been trying to find my stroke this whole season,” Sun said. “Luckily I was able to find it early tonight. The last 100 felt really good.”

In the women’s 400 LCM freestyle relay, Ford Aquatics’ quartet of Courtney Cashion, Whitney Myers, Brandy Collins and Nymeyer rolled to victory in 3:49.56, while their teammates Lyndon Ferns, Schoeman, Adam Ritter and Darian Townsend picked up gold in the men’s 400 free relay with a 3:22.60 clocking.

The Janet Evans Invitational continues on Saturday with the 200-meter freestyle, the 200-meter breaststroke, the 50-meter freestyle, the 400-meter individual medley and the 800-meter freestyle relay. Preliminaries will begin at 9 a.m. with the finals at 5 p.m.

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