USA Nats Day 5-AM: Simone Manuel Bests Missy Franklin 15-16 Age Group Mark

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INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana, June 29. THE final day of qualifying came to a close at the U.S. Nationals and World Championship Trials, and First Colony's Simone Manuel definitely earned top billing.

Manuel nearly became the first 16-and-under swimmer to break 25 seconds in the women's 50-meter freestyle with a blazing U.S. National Age Group record this morning.

Women's 200 IM
FINA A Cut: 2:14.97
In a disqualification and scratch-marred preliminary session, California's Caitlin Leverenz took advantage with the top seed in the women's 200-meter IM.

With Missy Franklin scratching the event last night, and the likes of Stanford's Maya DiRado and Felicia Lee drawing disqualifications this morning, the door was wide open for the rest of the swimmers to move into Worlds roster-contention.

Leverenz raced to a time of 2:11.80, far surpassing the rest of the heats, for the top time this morning. That swim is just on the outskirts of the top 10 in the world, and Leverenz will be looking to push the pace hard this evening to secure a spot on the Worlds roster.

It will be a brawl for the second spot as plenty of strong swimmers put up competitive times this morning. Saint Petersburg's Melanie Margalis punched the wall in 2:14.30, while Athens Bulldog Shannon Vreeland clocked a third-place time of 2:14.42.

BlueFish's Elizabeth Beisel, reading the lay of the land with all the disqualifications, cruised in with a fourth-place 2:14.45, while California's Elizabeth Pelton also clocked an easy-speed fifth-place time of 2:14.47.

T2'S Justine Mueller (2:14.60), Pleasanton's Celina Li (2:14.66) and Gulliver's Jana Mangimelli (2:14.97) rounded out the championship field.

Men's 200 IM
FINA A Cut: 1:59.99
Olympic superstar Ryan Lochte demonstrated just what a day off can do for the veteran as he popped the fifth-fastest time in the world this year in the men's 200-meter IM this morning.

Lochte powered through his morning swim with a 1:57.51, moving him ahead of Daniel Tranter's 1:57.55 for fifth in the world rankings. Look for Lochte to put on a show tonight and challenge Kosuke Hagino for the top of the world rankings. Hagino touched in 1:55.74 at the Japanese Nationals earlier this year, and with Lochte having a full day off yesterday he should have plenty in the tank for a big time.

NBAC's Austin Surhoff raced to second with a 1:58.94, giving him a personal best heading into this evening. Surhoff's previous best in the event was a 1:59.58 from the 2012 U.S. Trials, and Surhoff now has a chance to not only make the Worlds squad, but crack into the top 10 in the world.

Conor Dwyer, after a tragic false start cost him a swim in Barcelona in the men's 400-meter free last night, showed he has a short memory with the quickest reaction time of his heat this morning. He wound up qualifying third in 1:59.84.

NBAC's Chase Kalisz (2:00.23), Michigan's Kyle Whitaker (2:00.62), California's Josh Prenot (2:00.82), Athens Bulldog Ty Stewart (2:00.84) and Dynamo's Gunnar Bentz (2:01.10) rounded out the championship heat.

Keep an eye out on the B final as NCAP's Andrew Seliskar, 16, makes a run at Michael Phelps' 15-16 U.S. National Age Group record of 2:00.86. Seliskar qualified for the consolation heat with a 2:02.67 this morning.

Women's 50 free
FINA A Cut: 25.34
First Colony's Simone Manuel made some major noise with a blistering time in the women's 50-meter freestyle this morning.

While Tucson Ford's Margo Geer, 21, matched Manuel's top time of 25.06, the First Colony swimmer earned the top spotlight of the splash-and-dash because she's 16 years old. That time obliterated Missy Franklin's 15-16 U.S. National Age Group record of 25.26 set back in 2011 and nearly cracked the top 10 in the world.

Coming into today, Manuel's best effort had been a 25.45 from the 2012 Junior Pan Pacifics, and with her swim this morning she put herself right in line as the future of women's sprinting for Team USA.

Geer, meanwhile, could be in for a special time this evening. Her performance just missed her lifetime best of 25.05 from last summer's Trials, and the woman known affectionately on Twitter as MarGO could break that elusive 25-second barrier.

California's Natalie Coughlin, focusing on sprint freestyles as she enters her third decade of existence, qualified third in 25.20. She's already clocked a ninth-ranked 24.90 at the Mesa stop of the Arena Grand Prix, and could make a serious impact this evening.

Tucson Ford's Christine Magnuson (25.21), Trojan's Jessica Hardy (25.37), SwimAtlanta's Amanda Weir (25.41), Tennessee's Caroline Simmongs (25.43) and Wisconsin's Ivy Martin (25.45) comprised the rest of the championship field.

Men's 50 free
FINA A Cut: 22.33
The men's 50-meter freestyle championship finale features a murderer's row of contenders for the World Championship roster spots with some serious speed coming to the table tonight after this morning's prelims.

California's Anthony Ervin scorched the pool with a time of 21.93, just outside of the world's top 10. He must have been doing his best Nathan Adrian expression with that sort of top-end speed in the morning as the announcer kept calling him Adrian throughout his swim.

Longhorn's Jimmy Feigen kept pace with Ervin in heat two of three with a sizzling 21.98 of his own. He's only a bit off his lifetime best of 21.78 from 2009 with that swim, and could make a serious run for a Worlds swim tonight.

SwimCinnati's Josh Schneider won the final heat with a 22.00 to qualify third, while favorite Nathan Adrian shut it down after the flags to earn the fourth seed in 22.36. Adrian has already gone a 21.70 this year to rank fourth in the world, and should have plenty of reserves available to bust out with a gigantic time tonight.

SwimMAC's Cullen Jones, who enjoyed a lengthy post-Olympic break before getting back into the water just a few months ago, qualified fifth in 22.37. He's going to need a strong swim to get himself on the Barcelona-Bound squad.

California's Seth Stubblefield (22.44), Tucson Ford's Matt Grevers (22.61) and SwimAtlanta's Karl Krug (22.71) snared the rest of the transfer spots into the lightning fast finale.

Another national age group record is on notice in the B final as Santo Condorelli and Kyle Darmody, both 18, will take a run at Shayne Fleming's 2009 17-18 U.S. National Age Group mark of 22.47.

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