IRVINE, California, May 23. THE Speedo Grand Challenge is always an entertaining setup with just four swimmers advancing to the championship finale, and plenty of the top names in the sport took to the water in Irvine tonight.
Stanford’s Maya DiRado kicked off the night with a bang as she blasted a 2:12.52 to win the women’s 200-meter IM. That’s almost an in-season best, just off her 2:12.44 from this meet last year. The swim moved DiRado up to 20th in the SwimVortex world rankings, bumping China’s Zhang Sishi (2:12.58) out of the top 20.
PASA’s Karlee Bispo chased down second in the medley with a 2:13.64, while Jasmine Tosky of Trojan took third in 2:17.13. Stanford’s Felicia Lee wound up drawing a disqualification in the four-person finale.
Trojan’s Cristian Quintero powered home to edge Stanford’s Tom Kremer in the men’s 200-meter free, 1:50.01 to 1:50.44. Meanwhile, Stanford’s Jason Dunford took third in the finale with a 1:51.05, while teammate Bobby Bollier wound up fourth in 1:53.50.
Trojan’s Jessica Hardy, swimming close to home again for the first time in quite some time, crushed the field in the women’s 100-meter breast with a winning 1:08.79. She’s been way faster this year with a fifth-ranked 1:06.86 at the Charlotte stop of the Grand Prix, but didn’t need that type of speed tonight.
Stanford’s Sarah Haase (1:11.01), Roadrunner’s Jorie Caneta (1:12.07) and Golden West’s Nora Deleske (1:13.57) rounded out the four-person finale with Hardy, in what must have been a treat for the teens to race against an Olympic gold medalist.
Additionally, Mike Alexandrov took home the men’s 100-meter breaststroke title in 1:01.67, while Trojan teammate Azad Al-barazi placed second in the event with a 1:02.10. Carlos Almeida (1:02.82) and Glenn Snyders (1:03.17) also competed in the final four.
Fresno’s Cheyenne Coffman continued to be on fire this year as she clocked her third-fastest time ever in the women’s 50-meter free with a winning 25.47. That’s behind only her 25.16 and 25.44 from the Mesa stop of the Grand Prix. Coffman has been a revelation of late, especially after her career meet in Mesa. She may be ready to step up to the National Team level this summer.
Stanford’s Lia Neal (25.56), Hardy (25.88) and newly-minted HS record setter Abbey Weitzeil (25.88) also competed in the four-person finale.
Stanford’s Max Williamson just missed his lifetime best in the men’s 200-meter IM tonight with a 2:02.28 for the win. That’s just off his PR of 2:02.11 set at the 2013 U.S. National Championships, and sets Williamson up nicely as he moves into the long course championship season.
Aquazot’s Corey Okubo picked up second-place honors in 2:03.81, while Trojan’s Alexandrov (2:06.49) and Portugal’s Almeida (2:06.81) also battled for the title. Trojan’s Jacob Toumarkin, who missed making the top four, won the consolation heat in 2:04.17.
Lynette Lim closed the show on night one in Irvine with a 4:16.51 in the women’s 400-meter free . That’s nearly her in-season best, just off the 4:16.42 she set at the 2008 Janet Evans Invitational. Valerie Slowing of Guam snagged second in 4:20.89 with Remedy Rule (4:23.19) and Tara Halsted (4:27.04) turned in the rest of the final four times.