Arena Grand Prix, Charlotte: Sprint Frees Take Center Stage

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CHARLOTTE, North Carolina, May 11. THE Charlotte UltraSwim stop of the Arena Grand Prix series continued to march on with Saturday's preliminary competition.

Women's 200 fly
There is a chance for some serious breakout performances in the finale as plenty of swimmers who are gearing up for a run on the Barcelona team made the top eight. Mount Pleasant's Megan Kingsley turned in the top time of the morning with a 2:13.15, just two seconds off her lifetime best of 2:11.32 from the Junior Pan Pacific Championships. The great thing about this particular meet is how many Junior Pan Pacific team members have been putting up big times.

North Carolina's Meredith Hoover checked in with a 2:13.76 for the second seed this evening, just missing her lifetime best of 2:13.57 set at this meet a year ago. That's even faster than her 2012 Olympic Trials swim of 2:14.09. There is no telling how low Hoover can go tonight.

Flint Y's Courtney Weaver turned in a 2:14.63 for the third seed, but has much faster times in her heading into finals. She's been in the 2:11s twice and 2:12s three other times. Look for another swift time this evening.

Gator's Andreina Pinto (2:14.83), Athens Bulldogs' Lauren Harrington (2:14.85), Emma Nunn (2:15.14), Louisville's Kelsi Worrell (2;15.41) and the veteran of the bunch, Kim Vandenberg (2:15.48) all clawed their ways into the championship finale this evening.

Men's 200 fly
Bolles' Joseph Schooling continues to shine in Charlotte as this is his World Championships select meet to make the Singapore roster. After already lowering Singapore records four separate times yesterday, in both prelim and finals swims, Schooling settled down in the longer distance fly this morning. Knowing he did not need his top-end speed, Schooling raced to the only sub-2:00 time of the morning with a 1:59.65. Look for a stronger time this evening, potentially rivaling is Singapore national mark of 1:56.67 from the 2011 SEA Games.

Tom Luchsinger turned in the second seed of the morning with a time of 2:00.57, three seconds off his personal best of 1:57.01 from 2011 U.S. Nationals. Club Wolverine's Dan Madwed went out hard with a 56.85 at the 100, then settled into an easier pace to clock the third-fastest time of the morning with a 2:00.97.

Venezuela's Jose Perez (2:02.35), Gator's Sebastien Rousseau (2:02.60), Michigan's Dylan Bosch (2:02.62), 400 IM victor Chase Kalisz (2:02.88) and Nation's Capital's Andrew Seliskar (2:04.01) snared the rest of the transfer spots into the championship finale.

Women's 50 free
The always fun-to-watch splash-and-dash took place following the more strategic distance fly events. SwimMAC's Madison Kennedy used a hometown surge to throw down a strong 25.56 for the top seed. She's likely to clear 25 seconds this evening as she looks to best her in-season personal record of 24.99 from the 2012 Indianapolis Grand Prix stop from 14 months ago.

Athens Bulldogs' Megan Romano, who graces the cover of the May issue of Swimming World Magazine with an amazing image from Peter Bick, raced into second with a time of 25.67. That's just half-a-second off her lifetime best of 25.23 from the 2012 Longhorn Elite Meet. She will definitely be looking for her first sub-25 this evening.

Trojan's Jessica Hardy, who already claimed a double last night with an impressive set of victories in the 50 and 100-meter breaststroke events, will be looking for another first-place $500 check this evening after qualifying in 25.69. Fellow Olympian Dana Vollmer, who won the 100 fly last night with a top 10 time with just half-a-season of training underneath her, placed fourth this morning in 26.01.

AGUA's Lia Neal qualified fifth in 26.06 and will be looking to replicate her 2012 Olympic run with a 2013 Worlds berth later this summer in Indianapolis at Trials. Emma Svensson (26.06), SwimAtlanta's Amanda Weir (26.08) and California's Liv Jensen (26.20) will comprise the rest of the championship heat.

Men's 50 free
California's Anthony Ervin, who teased a major announcement today on his Twitter account last night, was feeling it this morning as he blasted a 22.43 for the top seed. He still has some work to do to move into the top 10 in the world this year, currently anchored by 21.92s from Bruno Fratus and Matt Targett.

SwimMAC's Cullen Jones, who admitted last night that he had considered retiring after the 2012 London Olympics before head coach David Marsh talked him out of it, is back in the water after a lengthy break. He qualified second in 22.61 after a quick swim as part of SwimMAC's 400-meter free relay last night.

Auburn's Marcelo Chierighini earned the third seed with a time of 22.69, while SwimAtlanta's Karl Krug qualified fourth in 22.70. Olympic gold medalist Ricky Berens, who has been tinkering with his swim schedule with some more sprint freestyle based work, snagged a spot in the splash-and-dash finale with a fifth-seeded 22.79. That's a lifetime best for the Longhorn, having cleared 23 seconds for the first time. His previous best was a 23.14 at the 2009 Santa Clara Invitational.

Josh Schneider (22.82), NYAC's Tyler McGill (22.90) and Auburn's Adam Brown (22.95) all surpassed 23 seconds to make up the rest of the championship field.

Women's 100 back
Valle Colombia's Isabella Arcila posted a 1:02.55 to lead the way in prelims of the dorsal event. She only has half-a-second to cut for a lifetime best this evening as her personal record is a 1:01.90 from the Mexico Swimming Cup last June.

Athens Bulldogs' Megan Romano will go back-to-back this evening after qualifying second in her second straight event. She clocked a 1:02.60, but has a 1:00 in her arsenal having clocked a 1:00.19 lifetime best last June. Look for her to turn up the heat in the finale.

SwimMAC's 16-year-old multi-event prodigy Kathleen Baker qualified third in 1:02.60, while GMSC's 15-year-old Kaitlin Harty placed fourth in the morning with a 1:02.62.

DANA's Carolina Colorado (1:02.74), Michigan's Alex DeLoof (1:03.19), Ellen Williamson (1:03.47) and BlueFish's Brooke Zeiger (1:03.49) also earned spots in the top eight. The finale will be looking for someone with a breakout swim as the door is wide open without the likes of a Missy Franklin, who celebrated her 18th birthday yesterday and took this meet off.

Men's 100 back
Minnetonka's David Plummer, who has a sub-53 to his credit, cruised into the top seed this evening with a 55.27. Plummer, who earned a world title in 2011 as part of the U.S. 400-meter medley relay effort, is looking to return to the Worlds roster this summer.

Bolles' Ryan Murphy, one of the favorites for a backstroke spot on the Barcelona roster, checked in with a time of 55.49, while Wisconsin's Andrew Teduits took home the third seed with a time of 55.74. Teduits became Wisconsin's first NCAA titlist since 1959 this past March when he took home the 200-yard backstroke crown. He could be another breakout swimmer this summer during the long course meter season.

Jack Conger, a Texas commit, qualified fourth in 55.94, while Olympic superstar Ryan Lochte took fifth in 56.07. Lochte typically underperforms at meets like this due to massive amounts of training. This year, however, he's admitted some of the issues are distractions from his extracurricular activities such as his E! reality television show What Would Ryan Lochte Do? broadcast on Sunday nights.

Eugene Godsoe (56.12), Club Wolverine's Junya Koga (56.17) and Mohamed Hussein (56.40) also will compete for the title this evening.

Women's 400 free
Mission Viejo's Chloe Sutton, who has had a remarkable meet thus far with some lifetime bests and near records as well, cruised in the morning with a 4:13.00 to lead the way in the middle-distance qualifying. It could be scary this evening if she continues to throw down close to lifetime bests, as her top time is a 4:04.18 from the 2012 Trials. A time of that caliber would vault her into the top five in the world, a place where Katie Ledecky currently sits as the fastest American with a third-ranked 4:05.21 from the Mesa stop of the Arena Grand Prix.

JCC's Leah Smith qualified second in 4:13.25, while NBAC's Gillian Ryan qualified third in 4:14.87. Chile's Kristel Kobrich, the third-place finisher in the 1500 free to start the meet, took fourth in 4:15.31 this morning.

NBAC's Cierra Runge (4:15.71), Athens Bulldogs' Amber McDermott (4:16.13), Gator's Andreina Pinto (4:16.22) and Minnesota's Ashley Steenvoorden (4:16.41) comprised the rest of the championship heat.

Men's 400 free
Michigan's Connor Jaeger, the 800 free winner from night one, checked in with a top-seeded time of 3:54.09 as he put up an easy speed time just to qualify. Jaeger's progression in the sport has been awe-inspiring. Last year, he made his name in the 1500 free to make the Olympic team after having swum the event just a handful of times. Even after leading Michigan to its first NCAA team title since 1995, he's remained humble within the sport.

Dynamo's Matias Koski, who is looking for qualifying times for his home country of Finland, earned the second seed with a 3:54.46, while 200-meter free victor Matt McLean snared the third seed with a time of 3:55.65.

Club Wolverine's Michael Klueh (3;55.73), Marwan El Kamash (3:55.94), Lake Forest's Conor Dwyer (3:56.39), Auburn's Zane Grothe (3:56.85) and Longhorn's Michael McBroom (3:57.22) also made their way into the finale.

Women's 200 breast
Longhorn's Laura Sogar, who made noise in March by capturing the 200-yard breaststroke in a bit of an upset victory ahead of Texas A&M's Breeja Larson, dominated this morning's preliminary session with a time of 2:28.85. Should she have a big time drop this evening, she could be in for a potentially special swim. Her lifetime best is a 2:25.15 from the 2012 U.S. Open Championships, and the way some swimmers have been popping top times out of the blue this weekend, it's not out of the realm of possibility that she could challenge for a top 10 time in the world.

Annie Zhu of North Baltimore qualified second in 2:31.21, and will need some serious speed to catch up to Sogar later this evening. Ashley Wanland rounded out the top three qualifiers out of the preliminary heats with a time of 2:32.80.

Sprint star Molly Hannis of Tennessee made a surprise appearance in the championship finale with a fourth-seeded 2:33.18. She's usually doesn't make her way into A finals in the longer distance event, but the sprinter is continuing to develop her versatility as a Lady Vol.

Michigan's Angela Chokran (2:35.17), Louisville's Gisselle Kohoyda (2:35.65), SMU's Raminta Dvariskyte (2:35.83) and MAC's Genevieve Robertson (2:36.45) qualified fourth through eighth to grab the rest of the finale lanes.

Men's 200 breast
NBAC's Chase Kalisz, last night's 400 IM victor, put up a sizzling time of 2:15.21 in the distance breaststroke preliminaries for the top seed. That's his second-fastest time ever, just behind his 2:14.13 at the 2011 World Junior Championships. He cleared his previous second-best time of 2:15.47 from the 2012 Larson Allen Invitational a year-and-a-half ago.

Jorge Murillo, who cashed a few checks in the 50 and 100-meter breaststroke events last night, placed second this morning with a 2:16.31. Meanwhile, Thomas Dahlia checked in with a third-seeded time of 2:16.40.

Louisville's Carlos Almeida (2:16.69), 50 and 100 victor Mike Alexandrov (2:16.74), Michigan's Richard Funk (2:17.75), Nicolas Fink (2:17.80) and Tennessee's Tristan Slater (2:18.65) all earned spots in the championship heat as well.

Women's 50 fly
Dana Vollmer again put up a scorching time in prelims, just finishing outside the top 10 in the sprint fly with a leading time of 26.41. That swim is just on the outskirts of the top 10 anchored by Svetlana Chimrova's 26.33 from Russian Nationals in Kazan earlier this year. With a sparse training schedule this year after an amazing run at the 2012 London Olympics, Vollmer is demonstrating just how much talent she possesses.

Louisville's Kelsi Worrell, who is focusing on long course for the first time in her career, broke 27 seconds for just the second time ever. Her lifetime best came by way of a 26.66 at the Mesa stop of the Arena Grand Prix, and this morning she blasted a 26.95. There's a chance for a special swim this evening as she goes head-to-head with Vollmer.

DANA's Carolina Colorado (27.17), Western Kentucky's Claire Donahue (27.34), SwimMAC's Andrea Georoff (27.76), PAC's Kristel Vourna (27.84), Machine's Hellen Moffitt (27.97) and Natalie Hinds (28.03) snagged the other transfer spots into what will be an exciting finale.

Men's 50 fly
Bolles' Mario Todorovic cruised to the top of the men's sprint fly preliminary heats with a time of 24.18. He has the potential to crack into the top 10 in the world during tonight's finals, but he hasn't approached those sorts of 23-mid times since 2008 and 2009.

Auburn's Marcelo Chierighini placed second in prelims with a time of 24.33, while U.S. Olympian Tyler McGill clinched the third seed with a time of 24.40.

Eugene Godsoe and SwimMAC's Cullen Jones qualified fourth and fifth with 24.42 and 24.43 times, respectively. Meanwhile, Tim Phillips wound up sixth with a 24.48.

SwimMAC's Matthew Josa (24.63) and Josh Schneider (24.68) wrapped up the final preliminary heats of the day, qualifying seventh and eighth.