USA Swimming Grand Prix, Charlotte: Day Four Prelims

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By David Rieder

CHARLOTTE, North Carolina, May 16. ANOTHER day of fast preliminary swimming took place on the final day of competition at the USA Swimming Grand Prix held in Charlotte. Swimming's stars, both national and international, were in action to set up some big finals races. Some of them ended up not making finals, but the landscape for tonight could change as many athletes scratch on the final night.

Women's 200 IM
Whenever a SwimMAC swimmer gets in the pool, the crowd here at the Mecklenburg Aquatic Center goes crazy. That will be the story again tonight as Justine Mueller will be in lane 4. Mueller posted the top prelim time of 2:16.41, over Bluefish's Elizabeth Beisel, who checked in at 2:17.03. A.S.K.'s Dagny Knutson snagged third in prelims with a 2:17.10, followed by North Baltimore teammates Elizabeth Pelton (2:17.25) and Felicia Lee (2:18.06). Club Wolverine's Mattie Kukors (2:18.23), Trojan's Rebecca Soni (2:19.12), and Colorado Stars' Missy Franklin (2:19.21). The field will be a deep one, and almost any of the swimmers could win in the final.

Men's 200 IM
In prelims, it was two swimmers going head-to-head, and those same two will be at it again in finals. Longhorn's Eric Shanteau used a strong breaststroke leg to overtake North Baltimore's Michael Phelps, the two-time Olympic champion in this race, and held him off in the freestyle. Shanteau posted a 2:03.01, about a second ahead of Phelps' 2:04.06. The two men cruised the freestyle and still finished well ahead of the pack. Club Wolverine's Wu Peng (third, 2:05.59) and Alex Vanderkaay (fifth, 2:05.77), as did Phelps' NBAC teammate Todd Patrick (2:05.60). SwimMAC's Russell Payne (2:05.94), Auburn's Mark Gangloff (2:06.35), and Poseidon's Tyler Harris (2:07.07) rounded out the top eight.

Women's 200 Back
Athens Bulldogs' Aleksandr Putra posted a swift 2:12.55 in heat 2 and watched her time hold up as the top seed. Nittany Lions' Amy Modglin clocked 2:13.74 for second, Canada National Center's Barbara Jardin was third in 2:15.12. Colorado Stars' Missy Franklin (fourth) and Bluefish's Elizabeth Beisel (fifth) both qualified for their second final of the evening. They clocked respective times of 2:15.49 and 2:15.94. British swimmers Stephanie Proud and Gemma Spofforth, both of Gator Swim Club, posted times of 2:16.45 and 2:16.54 to qualify for the final. Spofforth made up for missing the final in her best event, the 100 back, on Saturday. North Baltimore's Natalie Beale claimed the final transfer spot in 2:16.61.

Men's 200 Back
Tucson Ford's Matt Grevers paced prelims of the longer dorsal race. The Olympic silver medalist in the shorter distance, Grevers checked in at 2:02.64, qualifying just ahead of the Daytona Beach pair of Rexford Tullius (2:02.77) and Olympic champion Ryan Lochte (2:03.14). SwimMAC's Nick Thoman, who posted an impressive victory in the 100 back last night, was fourth in 2:03.21, while Longhorn's Aaron Peirsol, swimming in his first long course 200 back since establishing the world record of 1:51.92 at the World Championships, qualified fifth, clocking 2:03.27. Meanwhile, Swim Ontario's Matt Hawes (2:03.54), Rari Nantes' Sebastiano Ranfagni (2:03.65), and Auburn's Max Murphy (2:03.80) also qualified.

Women's 100 Free
California's Natalie Coughlin and Canada National Center's Victoria Poon were the top two swimmers in the women's 100 free, clocking times of 55.70 and 55.85, both in the 12th of 14 heats. Meanwhile, Colorado Stars' Missy Franklin qualified for her third final of the day, posting a fifth-place 56.83. American Record-holder Amanda Weir, representing Swim Atlanta, qualified third in 56.77, over 3.5 seconds off her record time of 53.02. The rest of the final field will comprise of Canada National Center's Sandrine Mainville (56.80) and Genevieve Samur (56.89); Puerto Rico's Vanessa Garcia (56.92), the 50 free winner in Charlotte; and Swim Florida's Erika Erndl (55.97).

Men's 100 Free
Another deep field assembled for the blue-ribbon event, and it was Daytona Beach's Ryan Lochte who took the top seed out of prelims. Lochte clocked a time of 50.58, just out-touching Club Wolverine's Peter Vanderkaay in their heat. Vanderkaay ended up third with a time of 50.70, just behind Auburn's Gideon Louw (50.67). New South's Scot Robison qualified fourth in 50.75, while Club Wolverine's Robert Savulich was fifth in 50.77. Josh Schneider of Cincinnati and SwimMAC, who posted a 22.38 for the 50 free victory yesterday, also advanced to the final with a sixth-place 50.85. The final two swimmers advancing were Longhorn's Ricky Berens (50.98) and Auburn's George Bovell (51.11). Many notable swimmers missed the cut for finals, such as Tucson Ford's Matt Grevers (11th, 51.40), Longhorn's Garrett Weber-Gale (51.64), and SwimMAC's Cullen Jones (29th, 52.57).

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