IRVINE, California, May 26. AT the Speedo Grand Challenge, it proved to be another run of Trojan and Cardinal victories as the USC and Stanford-based swimmers put on a shot on the final day in Irvine.
USC's Yuliya Efimova lit up the women's 200-meter breaststroke event with a sterling 2:24.31. That swim nearly eclipsed Trojan teammate Rebecca Soni's 2010 meet record of 2:23.99, but was more than enough to vault Efimova to fourth in the world. Her previous season best had been a 2:25.55 from Russian Nationals in Kazan, but tonight she nearly became just the four swimmer under 2:24 this year. Rikke Pedersen easily owns the pacesetter with a 2:20.53 from the Danish Open, while Japan's Rie Kaneto (2:23.11) and Australia's Sally Foster (2:23.94) are second and third overall.
The rest of the four-person finale also proved to be USC-connected athletes as Joline Hostman (2:26.01), Andrea Kropp (2:27.08) and Stina Gardell (2:33.86) also competed in the championship.
After already topping the 400-meter free earlier in the meet, USC's Haley Anderson returned this evening with an 8:37.47 to win the women's 800-meter freestyle event. That's four seconds off her meet record of 8:33.65 from a year ago when she was focused on making the open water Olympic team. She wound up taking silver in the 10K event in London. Stanford's Andie Taylor took second tonight in 8:40.95, while The Fish's Isabelle Rongione placed third in 8:44.20. UCLA's Lauren Baker picked up fourth-place honors in 8:48.70.
Trojan's Mike Alexandrov backed up his 100-meter breaststroke victory with a 2:14.50 in the men's 200-meter breast for another triumph. Trojan teammate Glenn Snyders placed well behind in 2:17.37, while Point-Claire's James Guest finished third in 2:18.49. Trojan's Azad Al-barazi clinched fourth in 2:18.68.
Stanford's Felicia Lee, back from a shoulder injury last Fall that cost her part of her collegiate season, dropped a personal best time in the 100-meter back with a 1:02.26. She's typically focused on other events during the championship season, but today she eclipsed her best time in the dorsal contest, previously a 1:02.62 from the 2011 Los Angeles Invitational. Ella Eastin, 16, placed second in 1:02.70, while Henriette Stenkvist (1:03.93) and Emily Eastin, 15, (1:04.22) took third and fourth in the finale.
USC's Vlad Morozov, who wowed the world with a blistering 21.78 in the 50 free to start the meet, popped a 54.40 to win the men's 100-meter backstroke tonight. That swim is just a bit off his seventh-ranked 53.70 from Russian Nationals in Kazan. Chase Bloch touched second in 56.43, while David Puczkowski (57.60) and Brock Bonetti (59.13) also competed in the championship four.
Brad Gonzales, 14, followed in the men's 1500-meter free with a win in 15:50.43. Grant Schenk (16:00.06), Scott Clausen (16:03.87) and Ken Takahashi (16:11.32) finished second through third behind him in the metric mile.
Trojan's Yana Martynova prevailed in the women's 200-meter fly with a time of 2:12.14, while UCLA's Noelle Tarazona touched second in 2:13.33. Andie Taylor (2:13.52) and Anna Senko (2:15.82) finished third and fourth in the distance fly event. Dane Stassi then captured the men's 200-meter fly in 2:01.85. Aquazot's Corey Okubo placed second in 2:02.12, while Gabriel Hernandez (2:03.93) and Mickey Mowry (2:04.55) also competed in the finale.
Stanford went 1-2-3 in the women's 100-meter free with Andi Murez winning in 55.83. Lee (56.14) and Maddy Schaefer (56.57) took second and third, while OCW's Lindsey Engel earned fourth-place honors in 57.33.
Morozov then finished up the meet by being tripped up by fellow Trojan Nikita Lobintsev in the men's 100-meter free. Lobintsev won in 48.65, overpowering Morozov down the stretch, 25.32 to 25.99. Morozov took second in 49.09 even though he was out in a blazing 23.10. Alex Sukhorukov (49.45) and Dimitri Colupaev (49.81) also swam in the finale. Morozov has been much faster this year with a blistering 47.93 at Russian Nationals to rank second behind James Magnussen's 47.53 from Australia.