COLUMBIA, Missouri, February 19. WITH many of the top swimmers already flying to coop after posting top prelim times in the morning, the final night of the Missouri Grand Prix in Columbia seemed a bit watered down. The remaining swimmers, however, still managed to put on a show for the fans in attendance – especially Natalie Coughlin and Michael Phelps, who both remained on fire.
Women's 800 freestyle
After finishing behind other swimmers throughout the rest of the meet, Club Wolverine's Kalyn Keller finally broke through with a time if 8:39.43 – the fourth-fastest time in the world so far this year.
Meanwhile, Sachiko Yamada took home silver with a second-place time of 8:50.92, while 16-year-old Monica Drake pocketed bronze in 8:56.77.
Women's 100 butterfly
In the first of many scratches on getaway day of the meet, Natalie Coughlin sat out the 100 fly after clocking the fastest morning time of 58.06 – the third-best time in the world this year, behind Inge Dekker's 57.96 and Rachel Komisarz' event-winning time of 57.96.
Kim Vandenberg wound up with a second-place time of 59.09, while Margaret Hoelzer took third in 59.60.
Men's 100 butterfly
In a watered down final after top-seed Ian Crocker (52.50), third-seed Jakob Andkjaer (54.36), sixth-seed Jordan Anderson (54.93) and seventh-seed Neil Walker (55.05) scratched, Michael Phelps ripped off a 52.33 to claim gold.
Teammate Davis Tarwater placed second in 53.36, while Thiago Pereira took third in 53.48.
Women's 100 backstroke
Natalie Coughlin put a hurting on the 100 backstroke with a time of 1:00.13 – the top time in the world this year. With an initial split of 28.87, she nearly broke her 50 back U.S. Open record of 28.86 set during her 100 back world record run five years ago. With more than a month until Worlds, Coughlin looks to be ready for some fire in the water in Melbourne.
Margaret Hoelzer touched second in 1:01.18, while Mary DeScenza placed third in 1:02.70.
Men's 100 backstroke
In another championship final missing more than half the morning's top qualifiers due to scratches by top-seed Aaron Peirsol (54.29), second-seed David Cromwell (56.01), third-seed Pascal Wollach (56.55), fifth-seed Omar Pinzon (57.12) and seventh-seed Craig Chapman (59.10), Michael Phelps easily claimed gold in 54.46.
In other action, 17-year-old Fabio Santi placed second in 58.69, while Miguel Robles took third in 59.61.
Women's 100 breaststroke
Tara Kirk put together a fast swim in the two-lap breaststroke event with a time of 1:06.82, which fell must sixth-tenths off both Jessica Hardy's American record (1:06.20) and Leisel Jones' U.S. Open record (1:06.21) in the event.
Meanwhile, Megan Jendrick finished behind in 1:07.99 for second, while Vipa Bernhardt placed second in 1:10.35.
Men's 100 breaststroke
Once again, a bulk of the championship heat finalist scratched with top-seed Brendan Hansen (1:01.92), fourth-seed Eric Shanteau (1:04.06) and eighth-seed Dale Rogers (1:05.98) each missing the evening final that witnessed Kevin Swander double his 50 breast win with a time of 1:01.75.
Scott Usher claimed second in 1:02.93, while Giordan Pogioli finished third in 1:03.80. Swimming in yet another final, Michael Phelps threw a fourth-place 1:03.88 into the works.
Women's 200 IM
Katie Hoff crushed the field in the 200 IM with a time of 2:11.42, just more than a second off her American record with five weeks to go until Worlds. Ariana Kukors claimed second place in 2:17.08, while Vipa Bernhardt touched third in 2:19.31.
Men's 200 IM
With second-seed Aaron Peirsol (2:03.97), fourth-seed Eric Shanteau (2:06.24) and seventh-seed Mark Johnson (2:08.87) each scratching, Thiago Pereira (1:59.19) roared past Ous Mellouli (2:00.21) to claim the 200 IM title. Meanwhile, Tamas Kerekjarto grabbed third in 2:03.55.
Men's 1500 freestyle
The men's distance freestylers closed out the individual races of the night with Chad La Tourette posting a 15:27.81 to win the marathon event. Ricardo Monasterio took home silver in 15:31.56, while Erik Vendt wound up third in 15:33.06.