CHARLOTTE, North Carolina, October 25. AT today’s Royals Invite, which was essentially an unscored dual meet between Division I powerhouse Auburn and Division II stalwart Queens with some professional swimmers showing up, Ryan Lochte made his competition debut as a member of SwimMAC Carolina’s Team Elite with a respectable swim in the 200 individual medley.
Though most of the crowd might have come to watch Lochte race, the college swimmers put on a good show as well. Very few of the top swimmers from Auburn improved on their season bests, but Queens came prepared and put up a few noticeable times that will gain notice among their Division II rivals.
Lochte, who arrived in Charlotte two weeks ago, popped off a 1:47.29 to win the 200-yard IM at the end of the meet. Not counting national championships, he has been faster at least five times in his career, with a 1:44.88 from the 2011 Florida state championships showing up on the USA Swimming database as his top unshaved time. Lochte owns the American record in the event with a 1:40.08 from the 2007 USA Swimming nationals. At last December’s short course nationals, Lochte popped off a 1:40.97, his best time in four years, though the Olympic champion has not put much of a focus on short course yards since finishing his collegiate eligibility in 2006.
Though Lochte provided the highlight of the day, the dual meet had some memorable races. Queens did not roll over and let Auburn take all the victories easily. Queens gave Auburn a scare in the men’s 200 medley relay, as breaststroker Nick Eriksson and butterflyer Matthew Josa pulled even with Auburn before Marcelo Chierighini gave Auburn a solid anchor leg to win with a 1:30.59 to Queens’ 1:31.52.
The Royals got four victories today, two of which were taken by Eriksson. The junior won the 50 breast in 25.70 then stepped up about 20 minutes later to win the 100 breast with a 55.91. Eriksson beat SwimMAC’s Eric Knight (26.21) with a strong second 25 yards to take the 50 breast, and had a breakaway third 25 to beat Auburn’s Michael Duderstadt (56.92) in the 100.
Josa, who grew up in Charlotte and had a breakout year as a member of the United States’ junior world championship team, also won two events. He led from start to finish to give Queens a big win in the 200 free with a 1:39.01. It’s his fourth time under 1:40 in the event, with a lifetime best 1:36.95 from a USA Swimming sectional meet earlier this year. He held off a strong charge from Auburn’s Zane Grothe, who had just won the 1000 free with a 9:27.00 and settled for second in the 200 free with a 1:39.28. (Grothe also won the 500 free with a 4:34.68.)
Also winning an event for the home team was Hannah Peiffer, who took the 200 fly in a lifetime best 2:02.99. Previously, the freshman’s personal best was a 2:04.58 from earlier this year during her time swimming at Baylor Swim Club under Dan Flack.
Josa, who tied for bronze in the 100 fly at junior worlds, gave Lochte a race for 75 yards before finding himself in a race for second in the 200 IM with Auburn’s Joe Patching. Josa posted the best time among the college competitors with a 1:49.43 to Patching’s 1:50.58. The swim got closer to his lifetime best than the 200 free, with Josa posting a 1:47.61 at the same USA Swimming sectional meet.
NCAA Division II champion Caroline Arkelian had the second-fastest time in the women’s 200 IM today, but with Katie Meili representing SwimMAC with her 2:01.52, Arkelian was able to brag about being the fastest collegiate swimmer at the meet with a 2:05.00. (Meili also posted the fastest 100 breast with a 1:01.80, ahead of Auburn’s Annie Lazor, who was second with a 1:06.57.)
James Disney-May was a double winner for Auburn, taking the 100 free with a 44.77 and a 23.16 in the 50 back in a tie with teammate Kyle Darmody. It’s Disney-May’s first time under 45 seconds this season in the 100 free, with a lifetime best of 43.02 in his sights for the end of the season.
Allyx Purcell had a standout meet for the Auburn women’s team. Stepping up onto the blocks next to national team members and NCAA champions, Purcell won both the 50 and 100 freestyles with times of 22.90 and 49.58. The 50 free time is just .03 off her season best, but the 100 free is her first time under 50 seconds this season. She’s been a solid performer for the Tigers all season, including the tri-meet against Notre Dame and Indiana two weeks ago. Purcell got the first-place mention over USA national teamer Madison Kennedy in the 50 free, with Kennedy’s 22.82 erased from the official results because she flinched at the start and was disqualified. In the 100 free, Purcell held off former NCAA champion and Auburn alumnae Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace, who placed second with a 49.85 in her debut with the SwimMAC elite team.
Purcell almost notched a third win, but teammate and reigning 100 fly NCAA champion Olivia Scott got the better of her in the 50 fly, 24.96 to 25.19. Scott also won the 100 fly with a 55.02.
Ashley Neidigh and Siena DeVenuto battled in the distance freestyles for the win, and Neidigh used a strong back half to hold off her Auburn teammate to win the 500 with a 5:08.67 and 10:06.19 in the 1000.
Emily Bos walked away from the meet with a sweep of the sprint backstrokes, winning the 50 with a 25.66 and the 100 with a 54.22.
Marcelo Chierighini, the fastest collegiate swimmer in the country in the 50 freestyle with a 19.93, dominated today with a winning time of 20.14. He was second in the 100 free with a 45.62, well off his fourth-ranked 44.09 from two weeks ago.
After losing to Queens’ Eriksson in the 100 breast, Duderstadt was the top swimmer in the men’s 200 breast, posting a 2:04.76. Arthur Mendes came up short in winning in all three of the butterfly races, placing second in the 50 (22.27), third in the 100 (49.04) and second in the 200 (1:51.83) to teammate Allen Browning, who won the longer fly with a 1:51.15.
Albert Subirats also made his debut as a member of Auburn’s postgrad team today, swimming in four races. After winning the 100 back with a 48.48 and placing second in the 100 free with a 45.40, he was back in his specialty stroke, the butterfly. Subirats, the 2007 world championships bronze medalist in the 100 fly and multiple NCAA champion, won the 50 fly with a sizzling 22.08 and was second in the 100 fly with a 48.54 to SwimMAC’s Tim Phillips, who posted a 48.28.
Another standout swimmer for Team Elite who made an appearance today was Olympian Micah Lawrence, who cruised through the 200 breast with a 2:15.33. Sarah Peterson won the 200 breast in the dual meet scoring for Auburn with a 2:23.20.
Kristen Murslack won the 50 breast with a 30.40 for Auburn, while Haley Krakoski also won for the Tigers, taking the 200 free with a 1:51.80 over teammate MaryElizabeth Warhol’s 1:51.88.
Auburn also won both 200 backstroke races, with Aubrey Peacock posting a 1:59.38 in the women’s race and Patching touching in 1:46.45 in the men’s event.