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Commentary by Kayla Simon
SANTA CLARA, California, June 20. A tie involving the Greatest Olympian of All-Time, talent-laden championship finals and the Grand Prix season-debut of a fan favorite – Day Two of the Santa Clara Grand Prix was definitely a memorable one. There was no time to blink, because you just might have missed something exciting!
After a successful first year as a member of the Cal women’s swimming team, which included setting the NCAA and American records in the 200 free and overcoming a 2.5 second deficit as the anchor of the 800 free relay to give Cal a win in the event at the 2014 NCAA Championships, Missy Franklin returned to the Grand Prix circuit in the morning prelims. She led the qualifiers for the 100 free with a time of 55.12, and finished 22nd in an event that is not a regular component of her swimming program, the 100 fly.
Following the seeded heats, Missy charmed all who gathered to watch her press conference with her effervescent personality and well-spoken answers to the questions posed. She shared her excitement over the opportunity to swim any and all events, whether they are the ones that have become associated with her (free and back) or those that she does not do on a regular basis (fly), and beamed when discussing the joys of being part of a collegiate team. She even told the press conference attendees that she has recently moved in to an apartment and is learning how to cook. Salmon is her current food of choice!
In the evening session, Missy swam a 54.51 to finish second in the 100 free championship final, behind Simone Manuel (54.44) and ahead of Allison Schmitt (55.08). She also anchored the California Aquatics “A” relay team in the 400 free relay, winning the event with a time of 3:44.48.
THE FIRST PHELPS DOUBLE
Day Two brought the first Michael Phelps double since the superstar returned to the competition pool at the Mesa Grand Prix, and it proved to be quite the spectacle. In Michael’s first race of the prelims, the 100 free, he posted a time of 49.99, which seeded him third behind Nathan Adrian and Conor Dwyer. And his second prelims race, the 100 fly, he posted a time of 52.57, giving him the top seed for the championship final.
Michael’s 48.80 in the championship final of the 100 free was enough for second place, impressive considering the fact that this was the first time he had raced in a final for that event since coming back to the sport. But the real excitement came in the championship final of the 100 fly. Tom Shields held a slight lead after the first 50 meters, but Michael came on strong in the second half of the race, and the two wound up in a tie for first place. The winning time was 52.11, 0.02 better than Michael’s 52.13 from Mesa and Charlotte.
A tie in a race will often get people talking. But when the tie involves the most decorated swimmer ever, it is a buzz that will likely keep on going long after the Grand Prix has left the facility for another year.
NATHAN ADRIAN’S GOOD MONTH CONTINUES
June has been a good month for Nathan Adrian. He swept the 100 free races at all three stops on the Mare Nostrum circuit, which included posting a season best 48.08 in Barcelona (the third fastest time in the world this year). And he kept the momentum going with his performance this evening in Santa Clara. In a championship final that was filled with Olympians, Nathan controlled the 100 free, going out 22.96 in the first 50 meters and coming home in 25.21 to win with an overall time of 48.17. I look forward to seeing what he has in store for Nationals!