COLUMBIA, Missouri, February 19. IT was a busy second evening of long course meter action at the USA Swimming Grand Prix held in Columbia, Mo.
Trojan's Rebecca Soni continues to prove that she has no peer in the breaststroke. Tonight, she dropped a pool and meet record time of 2:23.27 in the women's 200 breast. That effort obliterated Caitlin Leverenz' 2008 mark of 2:26.98, while also jumped well ahead of Kanako Watanabe's top-ranked time of 2:26.84 set earlier this month. South Florida's Alia Atkinson checked in with a distant second of 2:29.00, while Oakland's Tera Van Beilen snagged third in 2:31.69.
Auburn's Fred Bousquet threw down an early gauntlet to the world with a smoking time of 22.07 to win the men's 50 free. That effort moved him ahead of Alain Bernard (22.14) for first in the world rankings. Tucson Ford's Simon Burnett claimed second in 22.74, while teammate Matt Grevers tied Jason Dunford for third with matching 22.95s.
Trojan's Ous Mellouli followed in the men's 400 free with a world pacesetting time of 3:46.64. That effort beat the 3:48.27 set by Sun Yang of China last month. Charlie Houchin hit the wall in 3:53.92 for second-place honors while Trojan's Markus Rogan snatched third in 3:57.72.
Grevers moved to fourth in the world rankings in the men's 100 back with a winning time of 54.29. SwimMAC's Nick Thoman placed a close second in 54.33 four fifth overall in the world, while Trojan's Thiago Pereira took third in 55.11.
2010 Grand Prix circuit winner Chloe Sutton of Mission Viejo moved into sixth in the world rankings in the women's 400 free with a winning time of 4:09.09. Amber McDermott wound up second in 4:13.47, while Dagny Knutson took home third in 4:14.65.
Kathleen Hersey bounced back from losing the women's 100 fly title last night due to a false start with a winning effort of 2:11.39 in the women's 200 fly tonight. Knutson placed second in the event with a 2:14.56, while Nittany Lion's Kelly Nelseon placed third in 2:14.59.
Pereira topped the men's 200 fly in 1:59.21, while Robert Margalis wound up taking second in 2:00.94. Oakland's Mack Darragh posted a third-place time of 2:03.32.
In what proved to be a diverse finale field, Trojan's Jessica Hardy surfaced victorious with a time of 25.15 in the women's 50 free. That time put her fourth in the world rankings. SwimAtlanta's Amanda Weir took second in 25.33, while Kara Lynn Joyce snatched third in 25.35.
On the edges of the age range, South Florida's Dara Torres returned to swimming at the age of 43 to take sixth in 26.13 after a break from the sport that included surgery on one of her knees. Torres has been out of competitive swimming since the 2009 World Championships. Notably for Torres, tonight's time puts her into the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials, where she will be looking to make her sixth Olympic squad. Meanwhile, 16-year-old Olivia Smoliga of Glenview Titan tied Lisa Nathanson for fourth with matching times of 26.08. That's a 27 year difference in competitors.
Dominique Bouchard grabbed the women's 100 back crown in 1:01.14, while Smoliga returned to claim a podium spot with a second-place 1:01.91. Hersey picked up her second podium spot of the night with a 1:02.43 for third place.
Ryo Tateishi took home the men's 200 breast title in 2:14.24, while New York's Mark Gangloff placed second in 2:16.42. Rogan wound up third overall in 2:17.16.