Arena Grand Prix, Santa Clara: Ryan Lochte, Conor Dwyer Impress in Jammers

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SANTA CLARA, California, May 31. THE first full day of traditional championship qualifying is complete at the Arena Grand Prix stop in Santa Clara. With a loaded run of international swimmers attending the meet, the times proved to be impressive this morning.

Women's 100 free
The women's 100-meter freestyle finale is loaded. California's Natalie Coughlin, in her 30th year, cleared 55 seconds with a smoking 54.93 to qualify first this evening. That's less than a second off a top-10 performance in the world, and look for Coughlin to make a run this evening. Emma McKeon of Australia currently anchors the top 10 in the world.

Coughlin will be joined by Missy Franklin of the Colorado Stars. Franklin recently graduated from Regis Jesuit High School and the multiple-time Olympic gold medalist is gearing up for her move to the University of California. Franklin posted a 55.13 this morning for the second seed, after missing the last Arena Grand Prix due to her birthday festivities that included hanging out with Britain's Prince Harry and appearing at the Warrior Games.

Athens Bulldog Megan Romano matched up with Australia's Brittany Elmslie for the third seed with 55.32s. Tucson Ford's Christine Magnuson (55.52), Canada's Victoria Poon (55.56), NBAC's Allison Schmitt (55.59) and First Colony's Simone Manuel (55.66) rounded out the star-studded championship field.

Men's 100 free
Olympic gold medalist Conor Dwyer broke 50 seconds for the first time in his career with a sizzling 49.59 to lead qualifying this morning. That swim cleared his previous best time of 50.12 from the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials, and demonstrates his ability to potentially make the Worlds squad in the sprint relays. After helping the U.S. to 800 free relay gold last summer, he's a shoo-in to make the roster again this year in the 200 during World Championship Trials next month.

Nathan Adrian, who ranks fourth in the world this year with a blistering 48.11 from Marseilles, France, qualified second tonight with a 49.61, while Longhorn's Jimmy Feigen clinched third in the finale with a 49.82. Minas' Nicolas Oliveira was the only other sub-50 of the morning with a fourth-seeded 49.83, while California sprint rockstar Anthony Ervin checked in fifth with a 50.04.

Olympic superstar Ryan Lochte, wearing a full jammer for the first time this season, made the A final with a sixth-ranked time of 50.05, while California's Fabio Gimondi earned seventh in 50.24. SCCP's Fernando dos Santos (50.43) and Tucson Ford's Matt Grevers (50.57) wrapped up a veteran field ranging from 22 years old to 32 years old.

With both Lochte and Dwyer wearing jammers, it looks like coach Gregg Troy is letting out the leash a bit for more veteran professional swimmers.

Women's 200 breast
This morning proved to be a bit uneventful in terms of the speed of the swims in the women's 200-meter breaststroke, but the swimmers assembled definitely have a chance to make some serious noise this evening.

SwimMAC's Micah Lawrence checked in with a 2:28.32 for the top time. That's four seconds off her in-season best of 2:24.62 from last year's Charlotte UltraSwim, which is a legitimate goal for Lawrence heading into this evening's finale.

SBSC's Katy Freeman qualified second out of prelims with a time of 2:29.11, while Swim Ontario's Martha McCabe (2:29.15) and Longhorn's Laura Sogar (2:29.81) joined her under 2:30 to round out the top four in the big final.

California's Caitlin Leverenz (2:30.01), NBAC's Annie Zhu (2:30.25), Australia's Jenna Strauch (2:30.93), Stanford's Mary Olsen (2:33.10) and Wisconsin's Ashley Wanland (2:33.83) picked up the rest of the top-nine spots into the final field.

Men's 200 breast
Tucson Ford's Kevin Cordes blitzed the morning with a smoking 2:12.99. That's easily his best in-season time ever, blasting his previous top time of 2:14.43 from the 2012 Mutual of Omaha Swimvitational. It also stands as his fourth best time ever, behind a trio of championship meet times (2:10.92, 2:11.88, 2:12.72) from last summer. After putting up unheard of short course yard times in March for Arizona, breaking records and barriers with nearly every swim, Cordes is looking for his international scene breakthrough this summer.

Trojan's Glenn Snyders, part of what is becoming an incredibly deep field of international swimmers under head coach Dave Salo in Los Angeles, qualified second in 2:14.35 with training partner Mike Alexandrov sitting third in 2:15.49. Alexandrov will definitely be looking to pull in some more race winnings tonight with a podium spot. He's already among the top moneywinners on the Arena Grand Prix with $4,700 in winnings thus far.

California's Josh Prenot (2:15.54), NBAC's Chase Kalisz (2:15.55), Tucson Ford's Clark Burckle (2:16.36), Club Wolverine's Richard Funk (2:16.80), FIAT's Felipe Lima (2:17.84) and Trojan's Azad Al-Barazi (2:18.07) all made the championship finale. Three of the top nine hail from Salo's Trojans.

Women's 400 free
Terrapin Chelsea Chenault will lead a stocked finale in the middle distance event this evening after earning the top seed out of prelims with a 4:12.21. She's followed by a pair of Georgia Bulldogs with Shannon Vreeland (4:13.24) and NBAC's Allison Schmitt (4:13.47) both standing second and third out of prelims.

Swim fans could be in for a special swim this evening at that top trio pushes each other to quick times. While Katie Ledecky's third-ranked 4:05.21 from the Arena Grand Prix stop in Mesa could be out of reach, a top 10 time around the 4:06 and 4:07 range could definitely be in the offering tonight.

NBAC's Gillian Ryan (4:14.05), Stanford's Maya Dirado (4:14:09), Island's Alexa Komarnycky (4:14.25), PPO's Barbara Jardin (4:14.57), NBAC's Cierra Runge (4:14.88) and Andrea Taylor (4:15.34) snared the rest of the transfer spots into the top nine tonight.

Men's 400 free
Canada's Ryan Cochrane, who already stands seventh in the world with a sizzling 3:47.08 from Canadian World Championship Trials earlier this year, could move up the rankings after topping prelims with a 3:49.81 this morning. There is no doubt he has more left in the tank as he rounds into form heading into Barcelona, and his top time could be in jeopardy this evening. He still had some time to make up to move into world-title contender status with Sun Yang currently leading the world with a 3:42.96.

Conor Dwyer, sporting a jammer after having lead qualifying in the 100-meter freestyle with a lifetime best, cruised into second with a 3:53.38. Connor Jaeger, who topped the 800-meter freestyle last night with a lifetime-best effort, qualified third in 3:53.57.

Michigan-based swimmers definitely did well in this event this morning as Michael Klueh (3:53.71) and Anders Nielsen (3:53.94) followed Jaeger's lead into the finale with fourth and fifth-seeded times. Tyler Clary even got into the action with a ninth-seeded 3:55.78.

Island's Jeremy Bagshaw (3:54.30), Crimson's Liam Egan (3:55.67) and Australia's Mack Horton (3:55.76) also made their way into the championships.

Women's 100 fly
After taking half a year off after the 2012 London Olympics, it really doesn't look like four-time Olympic gold medalist Dana Vollmer is found at all wanting due to the break. Vollmer lead the way with a 58.77 in the women's 100-meter fly and is looking to be on pace to defend her 2011 world title in the 100-meter fly. Vollmer already moved into the top 10 in the world in the event this year with a 58.24 from Charlotte, and could break 58 tonight.

Greece's Kristel Vourna took the second seed in 59.69, while USC's Kendyl Stewart (59.71) and PPO's Audrey Lacroix (59.83) also broke 1:00 to qualify in the top four.

Stanford's Felicia Lee, who is featured along with Stanford coach Greg Meehan in the June issue of Swimming World Magazine, qualified fifth in 1:00.06. Gator's Ellese Zalewski (1:00.23), CSQ's Katerine Savard (1:00.33), RST's Sonia Wang (1:00.43) and PASA's Jasmine Tosky (1:00.49) also checked into the championship field.

Men's 100 fly
Definitely benefiting from head coach Gregg Troy's allowance of a jammer, Olympic star Ryan Lochte swam with much more confidence today compared to previous Arena Grand Prix stops. Lochte topped qualifying in the 100 fly with a 52.69. That's only half-a-second off his in-season lifetime best of 52.32 from the 2012 Indianapolis Grand Prix, and is his second best in-season time ever. He's also just a half-a-second out of the top 10 in the world this year anchored by a 52.14 from Daniel Lester at the Australia Nationals in Adelaide.

PASA's Jason Dunford qualified a close second in 52.72, while Stanford's Eugene Godsoe checked in with a third-seeded time of 53.31. Tucson Ford's Giles Smith topped the final heat to qualify fourth in 53.40.

Switzerland's Nico van Duijn (53.51), California's Tom Shields (53.67), NYAC's Tyler McGill (53.74), Terrapin's Justin Lynch (53.93) and EBAT's David Seiler (54.07) qualified fifth through ninth to comprise the rest of the championship finale.