CeraVe Invitational Showcases First Day of Long Course Swims

By Joseph Cusmano, Alana Basil and Megan Byrne

PISCATAWAY, New Jersey, January 14. SWIMMING World Interns help cover first day of the CeraVe Invitational with video, photos, stream and interviews. Catch it all by going to theLanding Page

Women Open 800 LC Meter Freestyle Senior
Rachel Zilinskas of Germantown Academy Aquatic Club swam an Olympic Trial Qualifying time in the Women's 800 LC Meter Freestyle to start off the night. Zilinkas swam just about seven seconds slower than her personal best, clocking in with a 8:50.35. Commenting on her race, she said, "It felt okay. I probably took it out faster than I needed too, since I didn't have too much left in the end." Although Zilinskas is not tapered for this meet, that didn't stop her from beating her nearest competitor by more than seven seconds.

Twenty-five year old Lauren Morford of Hydroquatics and 17-year-old Kelly Johanson of Badger Swim Club placed second and third with junior national qualifying times of 8:57.75 and 9:00.22, respectively.

Men Open 800 LC meter Freestyle Senior
Arthur Frayler of Germantown Academy Aquatic Club had a dominant swim, winning the race with a national qualifying time of 8:11.09. "It wasn't as fast as I expected it to be, but it was still a good swim," he said. Jimmy McEldrew, also from Germantown Academy Aquatic Club, came in second with a time of 8:25.59, swam five seconds faster than his seed time and qualified for junior nationals. Also qualifying for junior nationals were Michael Lennon of Long Island Aquatic Club, placing third with a time of 8:32.70, and Michael Smit of Hydroaquatics, placing fourth at 8:33.73.

Women Open LC 100 Meter Breaststroke Senior
Abby Fisher from Lakeland Hills YMCA finished in first with a time of 1:13.20. She was followed by Germantown Academy Aquatic Club's Madeline Mahr at 1:13.74. Both qualified for junior nationals and dropped more than three seconds from this morning's times. Laura Flewelling from Coastal Maine Aquatics completed the top three with a sectional qualifying time of 1:16.09.

Men Open 100 LC Meter Breaststroke Senior
Lovre Bilonic of Bayonne was the winner, out-touching his nearest competition by more than a second. When asked about how he felt during his race tonight, Bilonic jokingly answered, "Well, I felt good for the first 50 [meters]". Bilonic touched with a 1:06.30, more than a second and a half faster than his prelims time this morning.

Bilonic, as well as his teammates Valerjis Lebedevs and Peter Jiminez who placed second and third, have been training double sessions all week. Lebedevs and Jimines clocked in with 1:07.35 and 1:08.41, respectively. Bilonic and Lebedevs swam junior national qualifying times while Jiminez swam a Scholastic All-American Time.

Women Open 200 LC Meter Freestyle Senior
The 200 freestyle was a close race won at the last lap by Zilinskas with a time of 2:05.64. She dropped two seconds off her seed time and qualified for junior nationals. This was Zilinskas' second win of the night, the first being in the 800 free. Courtney Ciardiello of Badger Swim Club swam a time of 2:07.49, coming in second place and also dropping two seconds off her seed time. Meagan Dollard of Germantown Academy Aquatic Club placed third with a time of 2:07.50.

Men Open 200 LC Meter Freestyle Senior
In the 200 freestyle, Michael Smit from Hydroquatics won with a time of 1:54.56. He qualified for junior nationals on top of his previous performance in the 800 freestyle. It was his second event of the evening and the first time he placed. Pat Myers from Bluefish Swim Club came in second and also obtained a junior national time of 1:55.21. Lanes three through seven all earned sectional qualifying times.

Women Open 100 LC Meter Butterfly Senior
Clinching a close victory in the women's 100 butterfly was Badger Swim Club's Courtney Ciardiello. Ciardiello was the only swimmer to finish with a junior national qualifying time in this race tonight. "I'm very happy with my time. We trained long-course only for a little over Christmas break, but in the past two weeks we haven't," said Ciardiello. This was Ciardiello's second time finishing in the top three tonight and she is looking forward to swimming the 200 back and the 200 butterfly later this weekend.

Erin McElfresh, Morgan Karetnick, Bridget Casey, and Rachel Kessler all touched within a second of each other and finished second through fifth, respectively. These four girls all achieved Scholastic All-American Times in their swims.

Men Open 100 LC Meter Butterfly Senior
Although the swimmers were a tight pack for the first 75 meters, the race was won by Michael Smit with a time of 57.07. He swam one second faster than his preliminary time and also qualified for junior nationals. This was Smit's third swim of the night, as he placed in fourth in the 800 free and won the 200 free. "I'm not used to swimming this many events, but it is good training," he commented. Coming in second was Valerijs Lebedevs, swimming Unattached for Bayonne, with a time of 57.50, nearly two seconds faster than his preliminary time. Michael Strand from Elite Swim Club placed third with a time of 58.15.

Women Open 200 LC Meter IM Senior
Abby Fisher came from behind victory in lane 7 during the 200 IM. She moved ahead in the final 50 meters to touch out Zilinskas for the win. After the race she said, "I was really excited. I didn't know what to expect and I just went out and did a good job." She finished with a time of 2:21.84, dropping almost six seconds from this morning and qualifying for junior nationals. This was Fisher's second win of the evening; she also placed first in the 100 meter breaststroke. Rachel Zilinskas took second and also qualified for junior nationals with a time of 2:21.94.

Men Open 200 LC Meter IM Senior
Long Island Aquatic Club's Christian Yeager locked up the 200 IM tonight with a Scholastic All-American Time of 2:11.43. "I felt good but I was a little tired," said the unshaved and untapered Yeager. He went on to say that he is looking forward to his 400 IM and especially the 200 back later this weekend.

Also swimming faster than this morning were Bayonne's Valerjis Labedevs and Bluefish Swim Club's Pat Myers. This was Valerjis's third top three finish of the night. They both swam Scholastic All-American times of 2:12.86 and 2:12.96, respectively.

Women Open 800 LC Meter Freestyle Relay Senior
Badger Swim Club's Isabel Shipman, Kelly Johanson, Elizabeth Schauer and Courtney Ciardello locked up a first place finish with a sectional qualifying time of 8:39.53. "We're very happy. We're ecstatic," said the girls about their time. "Usually we die towards the end," joked a happy Ciardiello. Coach Tim Tully explained, "We have a solid eight girls and it's just very hard to split them up. Both relays had great performances."

The girls, as well as Coach Tully, are looking forward to the 400 medley relay and the 400 freestyle relay later this weekend. "We've got a solid breaststroker and we've been sprinting better and better lately," remarked Tully.

Men Open 800 Free Relay
In a three-way race for first, the teams from Somerset Valley YMCA, Bluefish Swim Club and Germantown Academy Aquatic Club all had excellent performances in the last event of the night. The three teams were neck-and-neck for the first 600 meters. Seeded in eighth place for the final heat, the Germantown team pulled through and won the race with a time of 8:02.83, dropping four seconds from their seed time. Team members Adam Sjoholm, Jimmy McEldrew, Carl Dowzicky and Arthur Frayler agreed that, "[The race] hurt, but it feels good." Second place went to the Bluefish team, with team members Louis Arruda, Pat Myers, Chris Iosue and Luca Spinazzola turning in a time of 8:03.18. Somerset Valley came in third at 8:06.82, with swimmers Rodrigo Gonzalez, Brian Barr, Matthew Vanbiervliet and Jeffrey Donovin.