Arena Grand Prix, Charlotte: Hardy, Alexandrov Vie For 4th Titles

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CHARLOTTE, North Carolina, May 12. THE final day of the Arena Grand Prix in Charlotte is complete with plenty of amazing storylines being set up for this evening's finales.

Women's 200 IM
SwimMAC's Kathleen Baker clipped her lifetime best in the preliminary heats of the shorter distance medley this morning. Much to the pleasure of the hometown crowd, Baker dropped a 2:16.59 to lead the way out of prelims. That performance is just her second under 2:17, beating her previous personal record of 2:16.90 set at the 2012 U.S. Trials. Her previous in-season best had been a 2:19.40 at this meet a year ago. That type of a time progression bodes well heading into the championship season this summer.

Athens Bulldogs' Shannon Vreeland, who has been tearing up the consolation heats throughout this meet, made her way into the big final in the 200 IM with a second-seeded 2:16.93. Last year around this time, she threw down her lifetime best of 2:13.80 at the Longhorn Elite Meet. It will be interesting if she can approach that type of swim this evening.

Louisville's Tanja Kylliainen continued a strong meet for the Cardinals with a third-seeded time of 2:17.02. That's a personal best for her, beating the 2:17.30 she set at the Mesa stop of the Arena Grand Prix. Along with Kelsi Worrell, the Louisville swimmers have been making their mark early on in this long course season.

NBAC's Annie Zhu (2:17.80), Katie Meili (2:18.77), BlueFish's Brooke Zeiger (2:18.79), North Carolina's Cari Blalock (2:18.93) and Michigan's Marni Oldershaw (2:19.05) also found their way into the championship heat.

The consolation finals features some big names with Olympians Cammile Adams (2:19.08) and Elizabeth Beisel (2:19.72) qualifying 10th and 11th.

Men's 200 IM
NBAC's Chase Kalisz raced his way to a top-seeded time of 2:02.18 in the medley. Typically a rockstar in the distance medley at the 400-meter mark, Kalisz demonstrated some speed with his top time this morning. He could put up a sub-2:00 this evening — he has three of those performances to his credit with a lifetime best of 1:59.51. It will be interesting to see what he has in the tank tonight.

Bolles' Joseph Schooling posted his fifth Singapore national record-setting performance of the meet with a 2:03.26 for the second seed. That swim eclipsed his record of 2:03.61 set at the Orlando stop of the Arena Grand Prix in February, and put him in position to become the first male from Singapore to dip under 2:03. Overall, Schooling owns five Singapore records with top times in the 50 fly, 100 fly, 200 fly, 200 IM and 200 free.

American-record holder Ryan Lochte cruised into the championship heat with a third-seeded time of 2:03.74. He typically has a tough time during in-season meets, but usually finds a way to post at least one special time at each event for his fans. This might be that event.

Mohamed Hussein (2:03.85), Michigan's Kyle Whitaker (2:03.93), NCAP's Andrew Seliskar (2:04.09), Lake Forest's Conor Dwyer (2:04.57) and Tennessee's Tristan Slater (2:04.97) all broke 2:05 to make their way into the championship finale.

Women's 200 back
BlueFish's Brooke Zeiger just missed her lifetime best in the preliminary heats with a top-seeded time of 2:14.54. That swim is only her second sub-2:15, nearly breaking her personal mark of 2:14.49 from the CeraVe Invitational earlier this year. BlueFish is a backstroke factory, having produced Elizabeth Beisel, who also finished fourth this morning with a 2:15.87.

Canada's Annie Harrison earned the second seed with a 2:14.93, while GMSC's Kaitlin Harty claimed the third seed with a time of 2:15.49.

SAST's Vien Nguyen (2:15.87), Athens Bulldogs' Megan Romano (2:16.51), DANA's Carolina Colorado (2:16.79) and Colombia's Isabella Arcila (2:17.47) qualified fifth through eighth to comprise the rest of the championship field.

This meet is definitely missing Missy Franklin in her top events, as she is ranked second in the world this year with a blazing 2:07.31 from the Austin stop of the Arena Grand Prix. She is off celebrating her 18th-birthday weekend as part of the Warrior Games festivities.

Men's 200 back
Wisconsin's Andrew Teduits, the 100 back winner last night blasted a lifetime best effort during prelims of the distance dorsal in what will be his only swim of the day as he catches a flight before finals. Teduits raced to a time of 1:59.59, clipping his previous best effort of 1:59.68 from the 2012 U.S. Open Championships. That's his first in-season sub-2:00. He has two other performances under the barrier with his previous lifetime best and a 1:59.69 from the U.S. Open as well.

Ryan Lochte will be the top seed this evening after Teduits' pending scratch after clocking a 2:02.01, while Tynan Stewart raced into third with a 2:02.10 this morning.

Bolles' Ryan Murphy (2:02.28), Louisville's Pedro Oliveira (2:02.56), Jack Conger (2;02.74), BlueFish's Connor Green (2:03.16) and Luis Rojas (2;03.26) rounded out the top eight qualifiers, while Ohio State's Steven Zimmerman is next in line to take Teduits' scratched spot with a ninth-place 2:03.34.

Women's 100 free
The women's 100-meter free finale will be a star-studded affair, led by Dana Vollmer this morning with a swift time of 55.69. That swim is just a second-and-a-half outside of the top 10 in the world this year, and Vollmer has shown the proclivity this week to move into the top 10 in her events with a light workload in training so far this year.

Athens Bulldogs' Shannon Vreeland earned another A final berth with a second-seeded time of 55.78. She has the potential to post a lifetime best tonight, with her morning swim less than a second off her 54.87 from the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials last summer.

Trojan's Jessica Hardy is in line for a fourth title this week after clocking an easy speed 55.86 this morning in qualifying, while Vreeland's teammate Megan Romano jumped into fourth with a 55.96.

SwimAtlanta's Amanda Weir (56.36), SwimMAC's Madison Kennedy (56.50), Faith Johnson (56.52) and SMU's Nathalie Lindborg (56.58) also picked up transfer spots into the championship field. Olympian Lia Neal of AGUA just missed the top eight with a ninth-seeded time of 56.63.

Men's 100 free
The men's sprint freestyle is just as loaded as the women's finale with some blazing times going up on the board this morning. Auburn's Marcelo Chierighini blasted his way to a top seed with a sterling 49.62. That's just a second outside of the top 10 in the world, but well off his fourth-ranked time of 48.11 from the Maria Lenk Trophy meet in Rio earlier this year. He definitely has the potential to throw down an equally impressive time this evening.

The burgeoning sprint demon Ricky Berens of Longhorn captured the second seed of the day with a 49.76. Berens, who has typically focused more on the 200-meter distances, has continued to demonstrate sprint prowess this year as he retools his event schedule heading into Barcelona.

Auburn's Adam Brown raced into third with a 49.95, while Club Wolverine's Michael Klueh wound up fourth in 50.46. Longhorn's Garrett Weber-Gale (50.49) and a third Auburn-connected athlete in James Disney-May (50.52) also made the finale.

California's Anthony Ervin, who traded good-natured barbs with Berens last night via Twitter, had the short end of the stick this morning with a seventh-seeded time of 50.75. But, look for him to turn up the heat in the finale. Bolles' Mario Todorovic checked in with an eighth-seeded time of 50.80, while SwimMAC's Cullen Jones missed the championship finale with a ninth-seeded 50.87.