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PICASTAWAY, New Jersey, January 11. WATCHING Olympians Katie Ledecky and Lia Neal compete at the CeraVe Invitational added a bit of extra spice to an already interesting meet. The Berkeley Aquatic Cub Winter Long Course Invitational, better known as the CeraVe Invitational in deference to its title sponsor, definitely wrapped up its first day of competition in style. Meanwhile, NBAC Paralympian Ian Silverman downed his American record in the S10 800 freestyle.
Since the meet is formatted for long course, it provided the opportunity to relive Ledecky's 800 freestyle race in London…kind of. Actually, the race was a far cry from the blowout swim Ledecky posted at the London Olympics, where she won the even by an astounding four seconds (8:14.63). Tonight, North Baltimore's Gillian Ryan put pressure on Nation's Capital Swim Club's Ledecky out of lane five for the duration of the race. Gillian trailed by no more than a body length for the race, and even crept up to within an arm's length during the last 100 meters, much to the crowd's excitement.
Ledecky eventually took the win with an 8:29.47, but Ryan was not far off, posting an 8:30.24 final time. It was a renewed rivalry of sorts for the East Coast girls. The two share the 800 freestyle as their signature event. Ryan won the 2011 U.S. National Championships in the 800 freestyle, and placed seventh in the event at the 2012 Olympic Trials after qualifying third in prelims. Germantown's Sierra Schmidt earned third this evening in 8:50.05.
Ryan found redemption in the women's 200 freestyle several events later. Ledecky and Ryan once again went head to head in the race, but this time Ryan took the win (2:01.33). Ledecky placed second (2:01.77) and North Baltimore Aquatic Club's Cierra Runge came in third (2:01.98). Ledecky, Ryan and Runge battled it out down the home stretch, far outdistancing the competition. In fact, fourth was a distant 2:05.59, posted by Bluefish Swim Club's Brooke Zeiger.
Swimming World got a nice surprise visit from Rebecca Soni later in the evening. She stopped by the CeraVe Invitational this afternoon to sign autographs for hundreds of young fans, some that lined up down the complex's corridors for a chance to meet the world record holder. As an age group swimmer, Soni competed in meets at the Sonny Werblin Aquatic Complex.
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The other Olympian of the meet, Asphalt Green's Lia Neal, cruised to a win in the 100 butterfly (1:03.52). EEX's Hannah Matheson (1:04.06) and Long Island's Trudiann Patrick (1:04.57) finished second and third. Although known for her sprint freestyle prowess, the Olympic bronze medalist Neal also swam the 200 IM B Final. She easily took the consolation heat win, with a 2:24.51. However, Neal's time was no match for the overall 200 IM winner, Delaware Swim Team's Kaitlyn Jones, who overtook her A-final competition by nearly two body lengths (2:16.71). Runge finished second in 2:18.49, while Zeiger claimed third in 2:18.71.
In other competition, AGUA's Michael Domagala pulled off a double. He clinched the men's 200 free in 1:51.93 to set a meet record, while Peddie's Michael Nunan placed second in 1:52.98. Delaware's Matt Stasiunas claimed third in 1:55.61. Domagala followed with a 2:05.89 in the men's 200 IM for his second title of the night. Germantown's Alex Lebed touched second in 2:06.96, while NBAC's Connor Kalisz earned third in 2:09.79. Domagala also anchored AGUA to a win in the men's 800 free relay as Austin Pu, Sammy Sherman, John Nunez and Domagala topped the event in 7:57.87.
Scarlet's Bobby Hilzen captured the men's 800 free in 8:31.80, while Germantown's Andrew DeFriece took second in 8:37.04. NBAC's Paralympic gold medalist Ian Silverman took third in 8:37.74 to set the S10 American Record for Paralympic swimmers. He owned the previous mark with an 8:41.23 from Baltimore in June of last year.
NBAC's Lauren James (1:13.14) and Jordan Surhoff (1:13.96) went 1-2 in the women's 100 breast, while Zeiger snared third in 1:15.12. NCAP's Carsten Vissering picked up the men's 100 breast title in 1:04.52, while AGUA's David Diaz (1:06.58) and Scarlet's Harold Choo (1:07.31) touched second and third.
Stay tuned with SwimmingWorld.tv for more up-to-the-minute coverage of the 2013 CeraVe Invitational.