USA Nats Day 4-AM: Ryan Murphy First 18-and-Under to Break 54 in 100 Back

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INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana, June 28. THIS morning produced a boatload of sterling times during day four prelims at the U.S. Nationals and World Championship Trials.

Check out who qualified for finals in the 400 free, 100 breast and 100 back this morning.

Women's 400 free
FINA A Cut: 4:09.81
In another event that is wide open due to scratches as Olympic gold medalist Allison Schmitt and on-fire Maya DiRado both elected to scratch this morning's women's 400-meter freestyle event. That left us with another likely Katie Ledecky, Chloe Sutton 1-2 battle similar to the 800-meter freestyle on night one.

Ledecky of Nation's Capital cruised this morning with a time of 4:07.32 for the leading swim out of prelims. She's been much faster this year with a third-ranked 4:05.21 from the Mesa stop of the Arena Grand Prix. Ledecky may also take a run at the 4:04 territory after her top Trials time of 4:05.00 from last year earned her a spot in the Olympics. She later popped a 4:04.34 lifetime best at the 2012 London Games as a split of her epic 800 free.

Meanwhile, Sutton chimed in with a smooth and strong second-place time of 4:09.78. She definitely has more in the tank for the finale as she's been in the 4:04 range as well. She clocked a 4:04.18 lifetime best last summer at the U.S. Olympic Trials, and now with a multi-year deal with TYR to support her, she's likely highly motivated to earn a second swim in Barcelona.

Open water champion Haley Anderson of Trojan could wreck the top two party tonight after qualifying third in 4:10.64, while NBAC's Gillian Ryan raced to fourth in 4:10.66.

Indiana's Lindsay Vrooman (4:10.98), Terrapins' Chelsea Chenault (4:11.36) and JCC's Leah Smith (4:11.93) qualified fifth through seventh, while Clearwater's Becca Mann and Longhorn's Quinn Carrozza set up a swimoff for the eighth-and-final spot to make the finale with matching 4:13.09s.

The team's coaches, however, elected not to do a swimoff for both swimmers to conserve their energy heading into finals. The decision was made for Mann to take the A final spot with Carrozza swimming in the B final.

Men's 400 free
FINA A Cut: 3:49.55
The winner of the metric mile on night one, Michigan's Connor Jaeger turned in the top time in the middle-distance freestyle this morning as part of the men's 400-meter free qualifying heats.

Jaeger raced to a time of 3:50.04, but easily should have a much swifter time this evening. He's already been a 3:46.93 to rank seventh in the world this year at the Santa Clara stop of the Arena Grand Prix. The primary question is whether Jaeger can contend with some of the other top times in the world like the 3:42.96 thrown down by Sun Yang at Chinese Nationals.

The Woodlands' Michael McBroom checked in just behind Jaeger this morning with a second-seeded 3:50.22. That's just a tad off his lifetime best of 3:49.89 from last summer's U.S. Olympic Trials.

Club Wolverine's Michael Klueh also posted a 3:50 with a third-place time of 3:50.59. He has a chance to be much faster tonight, already sporting a lifetime best of 3:47.62 from the 2008 U.S. Open as well as a 3:48.17 from the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials.

2011 National Champion Matt McLean of Virginia qualified fourth in 3:51.08. Look for him to challenge for the top two this evening, as he also has a 3:47 to his name with a 3:47.33 to win the 2011 title.

IX3's Charlie Houchin (3:51.43), NBAC's Conor Dwyer (3:51.59), Auburn's Zane Grothe (3:53.70) and NCAP's Andrew Gemmell (3:53.86) also made the championship eight tonight.

Women's 100 breast
FINA A Cut: 1:08.63
World-record holder Jessica Hardy is definitely feeling it after smoking her 50-meter breast swim last night. This morning, she blasted the women's 100-meter breaststroke with a scintillating morning performance.

Hardy hit the wall in 1:06.29, bettering her fourth-ranked season best of 1:06.86 from the Santa Clara stop of the Arena Grand Prix. The swim helped her leapfrog Jennie Johansson to third in the world behind only Ruta Meilutyte (1:05.20) and Rikke Moeller Pedersen (1:06.05). The June cover personality of Swimming World Magazine, Hardy is hitting on all cylinders right now.

Aggie's Breeja Larson took the second seed in 1:07.35, just off her sixth-ranked season best of 1:07.32 from her hometown Mesa stop of the Arena Grand Prix. Larson, the 200-meter breaststroke winner, is looking to take two of three, just like Hardy.

Tennessee's Molly Hannis, who has been on the cusp of a breakout swim for the Lady Volunteers long course season, could be a spoiler after qualifying third in 1:07.59. She's been a 1:07.39 at the Charlotte UltraSwim already this year, and could go much faster tonight.

SwimMAC's Micah Lawrence (1:07.97), Santa Barbara's Katy Freeman (1:08.33), Bluefish's Laura Sogar (1:08.84), Wisconsin's Ashley Wanland (1:08.97) and T2s' Justine Mueller (1:09.10) make up the rest of what is a loaded championship finale.

Men's 100 breast
FINA A Cut: 1:00.86
So far this week, Tucson Ford's Kevin Cordes has made a strong statement that he isn't just a short course yard phenom. After rattling the world record with his 200 win earlier this week, Cordes nearly broke 1:00 this morning in the 100-meter breast.

Cordes blasted a lifetime best effort of 1:00.08 this morning. The performance wiped out his previous personal record of 1:00.47 set twice, once at the 2012 U.S. Open and again at the Santa Clara stop of the Arena Grand Prix. The time also moved him to fourth in the world behind only Christian Sprenger (59.05), Fabio Scozzoli (59.77) and Brenton Rickard (1:00.00), and definitely makes him a world-title contender in the event.

Cordes made some serious noise at this pool back in March with some barrier-shattering swims as an Arizona Wildcat at NCAAs. He clocked a 50.74 and 1:48.68 in the 100 and 200-yard breaststrokes to set the American records in the events. The primary question around the world was whether he could convert that ability to long course. He's answered those questions in spades this week.

Trojan's Mike Alexandrov, a multiple-time Olympian, raced into second with a 1:00.87, while Athens Bulldog Nic Fink snared third in 1:0.96 to round out the sub-1:01 swims this morning.

PASA's BJ Johnson (1:01.41), Tucson Ford's Clark Burckle (1:01.76), California's Josh Prenot (1:01.94), Tucson Ford's Kevin Steel (1:02.18) and UC Davis' Scott Weltz (1:02.22). Mark Gangloff, the reigning U.S. Open and meet record holder with a 59.01 from 2009, just missed finals with a ninth-place 1:02.41.

Women's 100 back
FINA A Cut: 1:01.39
One can only imagine California head coach Teri McKeever had the biggest smile ever after this morning's women's 100-meter backstroke event as California-connected swimmers went 1-2-3 at the IU Natatorium.

Current Bear Elizabeth Pelton smashed her way to a startling time of 59.27 to jump to third in the world as the fastest American right now. Only Aya Terakawa (58.84) and Emily Seebohm (59.17) have been faster. For someone who has had trouble breaking 1:00 in the past with just two 59s to her credit with a 59.88 from Santa Clara this year and a 59.99 from the 2010 Paris Invite, Pelton is dangerously close to crushing through the 59-second barrier this evening.

Missy Franklin, the top recruit of all time out of Colorado Stars and Regis Jesuit as well as one of the most versatile swimmers ever, ripped off a 59.39 alongside Pelton in the final heat to qualify second. And, if you haven't been paying attention, she's headed to California as a collegiate freshman in the Fall. She's been a bit faster this year also, with a 59.34 to rank fourth in the world.

The third Bear of the bunch, Rachel Bootsma, qualified third in 1:00.21. That swim pushed her just inside the top 10. Bootsma, who became an American-record holder for the first time with her sweltering time in the 50-meter backstroke last night, should have an impact tonight after making the Olympic squad last summer in this event alongside Franklin.

Longhorn's Sarah Denninghoff (1:00.39), GTAC's Olivia Smoliga (1:01.00), SwimMAC's Kathleen Baker (1:01.07), Athens Bulldog' Megan Romano (1:01.62) and North Coast's Kendyl Stewart (1:01.65) also snagged transfer spots into the big final this evening.

Men's 100 back
FINA A Cut: 54.43
Bolles' Ryan Murphy made a huge move up the world rankings by way of a record-breaking swim in the men's 100-meter backstroke this morning.

Murphy, 17, has been battling Machine's Jack Conger as the top age group backstroker for the past few years. This morning, Murphy landed the latest blow with a first-place time of 53.62. Not only did that swim vault him to sixth in the world as the top American, he also snatched the 17-18 U.S. National Age Group record away from Conger, who had owned it since last year with a 54.07. The swim also surpassed Murphy's lifetime best of 53.76 from last summer, that stands as the 15-16 U.S. National Age Group record.

Olympian Matt Grevers also broke 54 seconds this morning with a 53.72. That's his best time this year, clipping the 53.75 he clocked at the Austin stop of the Arena Grand Prix. Grevers will be looking to guarantee his spot on the Worlds roster, as he has yet to officially be named to the Barcelona-Bound squad as of yet this week.

Minnetonka's David Plummer, who set the U.S. Open record in the men's 50-meter backstroke last night, posted a 53.83 to qualify third this evening and could be looking for a second swim in Barcelona.

Stanford's Eugene Godsoe, one of the breakout stars of this week in Indy, qualified fourth in 54.27. He's been on fire at the IU Natatorium, clinching wins in the 50 and 100 flies to earn his first major international team roster spot.

California's Jacob Pebley (54.40), Wisconsin's Andrew teDuits (54.62), Penn State's Shane Ryan (54.83) and Conger (54.88) all broke 55 seconds to secure spots in the championship heat.

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