By David Rieder
AUSTIN, Texas, March 5. SWIMMERS from the U.S. National team paced the world in their respective events on the second day of long course meter action at the Austin Grand Prix. Tucson Ford's Matt Grevers and FAST's Ariana Kukors each clocked a time that is the fastest in the world this year, while Grevers and Trojan's Rebecca Soni each set pool and meet records in their respective events.
Women's 400 IM
After dominating the 200 IM on Thursday, FAST's Ariana Kukors returned in the longer distance and claimed the title, with a time of 4:37.63. Kukors went out fast and lead the race the whole way. Finishing second was her teammate Katie Hoff, who clocked a time of 4:38.59. Hoff made up ground on Kukors on the backstroke but could not keep the momentum going on the breast and free. However, the two recorded the top two times in the world in 2010, the first two under 4:40. SwimMAC's Justine Mueller finished third in 4:46.80, while Trojan's Rebecca Soni, more known as a breaststroker, claimed third in 4:49.86.
Men's 400 IM
After dominating the ladies' version of the event, FAST claimed the men's version as well with Robert Margalis crushing the field with a time of 4:21.14, the seventh-fastest time in the world this year. Club Wolverine's Alex Vanderkaay placed second, well behind Alexandrov, in a time of 4:28.67, just ahead of Badger's Alex Gianino, who touched third in 4:29.10.
Women's 100 breast
Rebecca Soni and Jessica Hardy, both of Trojan Swim Club, continued their rivalry in this event in the final tonight. Hardy led at the turn with a split of 31.26, but Soni battled back and overtook Hardy down the stretch with a final 50 split nearly two seconds faster than Hardy's. Soni, who appeared on the Morning Swim Show today, clocked a meet-record time of 1:06.43 for the win, the second-fastest time in the world this year, behind the 1:05.85 previously recorded by Leisel Jones. World record-holder Hardy, the winner of the 50 free on Thursday, clocked a time of 1:07.72 to claim second, the third fastest time in the world this year, while KING's Megan Jendrick swam to a third-place time of 1:08.83.
Men's 100 breast
Since switching nationalities to represent America in international competition, Mike Alexandrov has struggled against the nation's top breaststrokers in long course. However, Alexandrov, representing Tucson Ford, took the win in his signature event in Austin, clocking a time of 1:01.46, the fourth-fastest time in the world this year. Auburn's Mark Gangloff was tied with Alexandrov at the 50, as both recorded splits of 29.13, wound up second with a time of 1:01.84, ranked number seven in the world thus far. Early leader Matt Lowe of Longhorn claimed third in 1:02.26, ahead of Tucson Ford's Bart Steninger (1:02.86), Auburn's Henrique Barbosa (1:03.03), and Vlad Polyakov (1:03.14).
Women's 100 back
In her first meet back from the 2008 Beijing Olympics and her time on Dancing with the Stars, California's Natalie Coughlin tasted her first return gold medal. She clocked a 1:01.08 in the event reminding the country just who has owned this stroke in the U.S. for years. Raleigh's Henriette Stenkvist, 16, swam her heart out for a second-place finish in 1:02.11, while FAST's Margaret Hoelzer placed third overall in 1:02.22.
The finale was stocked as Swim Ontario's Sinead Russell, 16, took fourth in 1:02.38 and FAST's Whitney Myers (1:02.43), Ariana Kukors (1:03.55) and Katie Hoff (1:03.56) also completed along with Rockwood's Caroline Rodriguez (1:04.76).
Men's 100 back
With Aaron Peirsol, Matt Grevers, and Nick Thoman in the field, the men's 100 back was going to be one of the races of the meet, and it lived up to its billing. Grevers, representing Tucson Ford, blasted the first 50, with a split of 25.57, and brought the race home, winning by 1.3 seconds over Thoman. His time of 53.05 was by far the fastest time in the world this year, as well as a meet and pool record. Thoman, representing SwimMAC, improved on his fourth-ranked time in the world, clocking 54.34, ahead of world record-holder Peirsol, who settled for third, in a time of 54.59, as he lost his pool record of 53.72.
Women's 200 free
Cal Aquatics' Dana Vollmer took control of the race from the beginning and held on for the victory. Vollmer's time of 1:58.62 is the second fastest time in the world this year. Distance star Chloe Sutton of Mission Viejo back-halfed her way to second in a time of 2:00.46, which could lead to an 800 free relay berth on the National team as her speed continues to improve. Erika Erndl of Swim Florida claimed third in 2:00.89, ahead of Olympians Kara Lynn Joyce of FAST (2:01.64), and Christine Magnuson of Tucson Ford (2:02.18).
Men's 200 free
Club Wolverine's Peter Vanderkaay trailed Longhorn's Michael Klueh at the 100, but he overtook Kleuh on the back-half to take the title in 1:48.51, the fourth fastest time recorded in 2010. Kleuh held on for second in 1:49.24, rounding out the sub-1:50 times. Tucson Ford's Simon Burnett claimed third in 1:51.72.
Fort Lauderdale's team of Lauren Driscoll, Rebecca Aiello, Chelsea Britt, and Harper Bruens clocked the fastest long course relay, 2:01.24, while Brigham Young (Erin Pabst, Karalee Fuller, Meagan Stone, Samantha Crist) had the top short course time, 1:47.34.
Tucson Ford's power team of Matt Grevers, Mike Alexandrov, Masayuki Kishida, and Simon Burnett clocked a time of 1:39.35, the fastest long course time recorded. Grevers' backstroke split of 24.72 was the fastest time in the world, and faster than the world record prior to the techsuit era. North Bay (Bradley Cline, Sandy Bole, Adam Winder, Thomas Williams) had the top yards time (1:36.61).