By David Rieder
ATHENS, Georgia, July 15. THE USA Swimming Sectionals meet in Athens continued with a second night of long course meters action. French Olympian Laure Manaudou highlighted the competition, placing in the top-two in two further events at her first meet since making a comeback to the sport last year.
Auburn's Manaudou used an impressive final 50 to overtake Athens Bulldogs' Megan Romano for a tight win in the women's 200 free. Manaudou, a former world record-holder in the event at 1:55.52, touched at 1:59.30, just beating Romano's 1:59.34. Both swimmers moved into the world top-50 with those times. St. Petersburg's Melanie Margalis clocked 2:01.21 for third.
In the women's 100 back, Romano touched out Manaudou, 1:01.05 to 1:01.12, with both again moving into the top-50. Romano also edged Manaudou in Thursday's 50 free, so she is two for three against Manaudou thus far this meet. Romano's teammate Kristen Shickora touched in 1:01.65 for third.
Auburn's Kyle Owens put on a show in the men's 100 back, jumping out to an early lead with a 26.26 50 split and holding on for victory in 54.20. The time moved Owens to 19th in the world rankings, although interestingly he trails five fellow Americans. Owens' teammates rounded out the podium, as Kohlton Norys, the winner of the 50 free on Thursday, took second in 55.58, while Max Murphy came in third at 56.22.
Athens Bulldogs' Bill Cregar cruised to the win in the men's 400 IM. Cregar, the NCAA Champion in the event, touched in 4:25.18. Rays' Alec Cohen touched second in 4:28.83, while Dynamo's Dylan Case took third in 4:32.55. Cohen touched out North Carolina's Evan Reed for the win in the men's 200 free, 1:51.19 to 1:51.23, while Summit's Doug Renyolds ended up third in 1:51.50. Margalis dominated the women's 400 IM, hitting the wall in 4:46.94, while Swim Atlanta's Amber McDermott picked up second in 4:52.41. Lakeside's Meredith King ended up third in 4:53.76.
The 400 free relays rounded out the second of four nights of competition. The Dynamo team of Nicole Stafford, Kylie Stewart, Caitlin Cooper, and Jamie Christy took first in 3:53.23, while SwimMAC's squad of Ryan Wilkinson, Nick Brunelli, Eugene Godsoe, and Eric Knight won the men's event in 3:27.37. Notably, Brunelli (50.03) and Godsoe (50.02) had strong 100 freestyle spilts. SwimMAC's B-relay, led off by Ethan Garrison, would have taken the win, but was disqualified; still, Josh Schneider (50.58), Davis Tarwater (49.52), and Tim Phillips (49.92) each had fast splits, although at least one of the above false started.