Speedo Grand Challenge: Rebecca Soni, Kosuke Kitajima, Elaine Breeden Post World Top 10 Swims

By David Rieder, Swimming World high school intern

IRVINE, California, May 30. THE final night of long course meter racing at the Speedo Grand Challenge featured three swims that rank in the top 10 in the world: Rebecca Soni and Kosuke Kitajima in the 200 breaststroke and Elaine Breeden in the 200 butterfly. Additionally, Nathan Adrian blasted a fast 100 free to end the night of swimming. Only four swimmers competed in all championship finals except for the women's 800 free and men's 1500 free, where a full field of eight vied for the title.

Women's 800 Free
Trojan's Haley Anderson opened the night with a win in the 800 free. A member of the U.S. World Championships team in this event, Anderson built a lead on her teammate Dawn Heckman through the opening stages of the race, only for Heckman to reel her in and take the lead by the 650 mark. Anderson, however, used a powerful final lap to overtake Heckman and win the race, 8:45.62 to 8:46.22. Piranha's Lynette Lim rounded out the top three in 8:52.29.

Women's 200 Breast
Trojan's Rebecca Soni, the Olympic gold medalist, posted another blazing time for a five-second victory. Soni won the race in 2:23.99, a bit off her top-ranked 2:22.21 from the Charlotte UltraSwim two weeks ago but a blazing swim nonetheless. The time gives her three of the top four performances this year in the event. Just like in the 100 breast on Friday, the difference from Charlotte was her front half, where she was 1.3 seconds slower in Irvine than in Charlotte but had a similar back 100 and blazing last 50 in Irvine. Stanford's Liz Smith finished well back for second, clocking 2:28.78, which ranked her 34th in the world, while Rattler's Andrea Kropp posted a 2:29.70.Kropp finished just ahead of World Champs semi-finalist Keri Hehn of Trojan, who took fourth in 2:29.78.

Men's 200 Breast
Trojan's Kosuke Kitajima completed the breaststroke double with a two-second win over teammate Thiago Pereira. Kitajima posted a fast time of 2:10.97, moving him to seventh in the world, just behind Brazil's Tales Cerdiera. Previously, he owned the ninth-best performance in the world, with a 2:11.33 from the Missouri Grand Prix. Meanwhile, Pereira posted a 2:13.16 for second moving him to 32nd in the world. A third Trojan, Andrew Bree, wound up third with a 2:13.24, well ahead of Stanford's John Criste, who rounded out the field with a 2:18.28.

Men's 1500 Free
Stanford's Chad LaTourette overtook Longhorn's Michael Klueh at the 600 mark and extended his lead, eventually winning by almost 13 seconds. LaTourette posted a time of 15:14.43, the 11th-fastest time in the world this year and the second-fastest time posted by an American, behind Peter Vanderkaay's 15:05.96 from the Charlotte UltraSwim. Klueh, meanwhile, wound up second, clocking 15:27.21, clipping three one-hundredths off his previous season best of 15:27.24 from the Austin Grand Prix. Trojan's Richard Charlesworth posted the only other sub-16:00 time, clocking 15:45.57.

Women's 100 Back
Terrapins' Presley Bard posted a strong swim in the sprint dorsal event. The USC senior posted a 1:01.69, finishing about a half-second ahead of Stanford's Julia Smit, who clocked 1:02.11. Smit's teammates Betsy Webb and Natalie Durant rounded out the field of four, clocking times of 1:03.83 and 1:05.56, respectively.

Men's 100 Back
Cal's David Russell held off Trojan's Markus Rogan to claim his second victory of the weekend. After claiming the 100 fly on Saturday, Russell posted a time of 54.89, which left him just outside of the top 25 in the world. Rogan, meanwhile, used a strong last 50 split of 27.69 to nearly catch Russell but ended up second in 54.93. Cal's Mathias Gydesen claimed third in 56.00, while Orange County Waves' Jiheun Kim rounded out the field in 56.49.

Women's 200 Fly
Stanford's Elaine Breeden put together a strong swim in her signature event to move into the top 10 in the world. Breeden's time of 2:08.73 ranked her eighth in the world, ahead of Australia's Felicity Galvez (2:08.83) but behind Great Britain's Jemma Lowe (2:08.12). Breeden's time is less than two seconds off her personal best of 2:06.75 from the 2008 Olympic Trials.

Trojan's Katinka Hosszu finished second in 2:10.34, which put her 20th in the world. Hosszu's teammate Lyndsay De Paul finished third in 2:10.54, which put her 22nd in the world. Coincidentally, the top three finishers finished in the same positions as they did at the NCAA Championships in March in this event. Tanya Krisman, also of Trojan, completed the field with a 2:16.68.

Men's 200 Fly
FAST's Bobby Bollier touched out Trojan's Thiago Pereira by just three one-hundredths, 1:58.38 to 1:58.41. Both men squeaked into the world top 25, at 24th and 25th, respectively. Pereira stood ahead of Bollier for the first half of the race, but Bollier took over on the third 50 and held off Pereira down the stretch. Notably, Bollier is the top-ranked American in the world, while Pereira is the second-ranked Brazilian, as he is behind Leonardo de Deus' 1:58.13 from earlier this month. USC's Clement Lefert touched just under 2:00 with a 1:59.96 for third, while Team Rebel's Daniel Egly finished fourth.

Women's 100 Free
Stanford's Julia Smit held off Cal's Madison Kennedy by just one one-hundredth of a second for the win, as Smit checked in at 55.55, off her prelim effort of 55.48, while Kennedy posted a 55.56. Trojan's Jessica Hardy led at the 50 with a split of 26.50, but faded badly towards the end of the race, ending up third at 56.14, well behind her prelim time of 55.46, which would have won the finals race. Stanford's Andi Murez clocked 56.53 to round out the field.

Men's 100 Free
Cal's Nathan Adrian blazed the field on the second 50 to win the race by eight-tenths. Trailing Kenya's Jason Dunford and Rose Bowl's Jason Lezak at the 50, Adrian posted a back-half split of 25.18 for a final time of 49.11, moving him to 14th in the world, as well as the top American, as Garrett Weber-Gale had previously posted a 49.31 in March. Lezak ended up second in 49.90, while Dunford also broke 50, finishing at 49.99. Trojan's Markus Rogan rounded out the field with a 50.43.

Swimming World high school intern David "The Swim Geek" Rieder is a high school swimmer in Charleston, S.C. He swims for the Southern Marlins Racing Team and often negative splits his races. He can be found on the web at swimdr549.blogspot.com and twitter.com/david2swim.