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CHARLOTTE, North Carolina, May 17. AFTER the final evening of long course meter swimming at the Charlotte UltraSwim, Dagny Knutson proved she's here to stay among U.S. women's swimming with her fourth gold medal of the meet.
Meanwhile, Fred Bousquet provided some fireworks with an ultra fast 100 free, while Michael Phelps concluded his first return to competitive swimming since his incredible eight golds at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Women's 1500 free
Club Wolverine's Emily Brunemann demolished the field with a consistent time of 16:27.03 in the women's metric mile. She kept an average of a 1:06 split throughout the race before coming home with a 1:04. On the first evening, Brunemann placed second to Katie Hoff, 8:39.35 to 8:41.23, in the women's 800 free.
Brunemann's teammate Emily Hanson captured second-place honors with a time of 16:43.63, while SoNoCo's Alicia Mathieu wound up taking third in 16:51.73.
Men's 800 free
WSY Swimming's Joe Kinderwater turned on the afterburners down the stretch to claim the men's distance title for the evening. Kinderwater completed the swim in 8:08.16.
Kinderwater held off a challenge from Club Wolverine's Adam DeJong, who took second in 8:12.42. Swim Wales' Tom Allen completed the podium with a time of 8:13.02.
Women's 200 IM
Minot's Dagny Knutson sprinted to her fourth gold medal of the meet with a triumphant time of 2:12.87. That performance gave Knutson the meet record as well, clipping the 2:12.97 set by Ava Ohlgren in 2008. Her victories should no longer be considered "breakthrough" as she's already broken into the elite of U.S. women's swimming. Knutson's rising trajectory has her being a force to be reckoned with over the next few years.
"The breaststroke is my weak link and is the stroke I have to work on," Knutson said about the race. "This is the first Grand Prix meet where I have had a win. It is just another step up the ladder. Winning a gold medal at the 2012 Olympic Games is what I am working towards."
Julia Smit overcame a strong front half by North Baltimore's Elizabeth Pelton to track down second place with a 2:14.80. Pelton, who led at the 100-meter mark with a 1:01.61, wound up taking third in 2:15.45.
Men's 200 IM
Brazil's Thiago Pereira utilized a dominant breaststroke leg to capture the sprint medley event as he tracked down Daytona Beach's Ryan Lochte during the third 25 meters. Pereira snatched the victory with a time of 1:58.25, ahead of Lochte's 1:58.71.
"I just saw Ryan on the back to breast and saw he was in front of me," Pereira said. "I tried hard to catch him in the breaststroke. During the last 50 meters, I had to dig for it. I was dying down the stretch. I just need to focus on my training and get ready for the world championships."
Both swimmers broke the meet record set by Michael Phelps in 2006 with a 2:00.39. Longhorn's Eric Shanteau placed third in 2:01.33.
Women's 200 back
Bluefish's Elizabeth Beisel turned on the jets in the final 50 meters to come away with the gold medal. Nearly dead-even with Team Ontario's Lindsay Seemann at the 100, Beisel found her groove and won in 2:11.88. That performance wasn't far off Beisel's 2008 meet record of 2:11.07.
"I'm dead, it's been a long weekend," Beisel said about her packed meet schedule. "Not quite where we want it to be, but is definitely a work in progress."
Seemann snared second-place honors with a 2:13.63, while Oakville's Annie Harrison, 14, tied with FLA Aquatics' Lauren Driscoll, 15, for third with matching 2:14.28s.
Men's 200 back
Although Club Wolverine's Tyler Clary shot down the oldest meet record in the books during prelims, Longhorn's Aaron Peirsol swept the backstroke events with a strong race at night.
Clary posted a 1:59.14 during prelims to shoot down Martin Zubero's 1992 standard of 1:59.62. Peirsol, however, had just a bit more in the tank down the final 20 meters to claim a 1:56.65 to 1:57.05 victory. Both times crushed the meet record.
"You could stay home if they all were going to be easy," Peirsol said about his close race with Clary. "The competition is why we are here. I definitely need to go back and workout a bit more. I am happy with that time for this time of the year."
North Baltimore's Nick Thoman rounded out the top three with a 1:59.62 to match the previous meet record heading into the meet.
Women's 100 free
Swim Atlanta's Amanda Weir emerged from a field of Olympians with a meet-record time of 54.06 in the women's sprint event. Weir's time whacked more than a second from her meet mark of 55.11 set in 2006.
"It felt pretty smooth," Weir said. "I felt like I was back to my old self again. It is nice to be able to finish fast again. I definitely like the 100 a lot better than the 50. The 100 is my baby."
Tennessee's Christine Magnuson finished second in 55.27 with Club Natation's Victoria Poon placing third in 55.61.
Men's 100 free
Out in a ridiculous time of 22.83, Fred Bousquet held on for the win with a 25.39 backhalf to touch in 48.22. That performance smashed Cullen Jones' meet record of 49.37 from last year.
"I went a little bit too fast to start," Bousquet said. "Whenever you race Michael Phelps, you know you are not going to catch him on the back part of the race. Our plan was to get out fast, and hold off Michael."
Michael Phelps had that stronger backhalf with a 25.22, but gave Bousquet too much of a lead with a 23.82 first 50 en route to a second-place time of 49.04.
"The biggest thing that killed me here were my turns and finishes," Phelps said. "Overall, it was a pretty good meet. I am back on track, and from here I head to Colorado Springs for three weeks."
Longhorn's Ricky Berens finished third in 49.66 among a stacked field.