USA Swimming Grand Prix, Austin: Nathan Adrian Scorches 50 Free; Anthony Ervin Throws Down Gauntlet; Allison Schmitt Blazes Through 200 Free

AUSTIN, Texas, January 14. THE second evening of racing at the USA Swimming Grand Prix in Austin, Texas, produced some intriguing storylines, as well as some lightning fast swims.

California's Nathan Adrian blasted through 22 seconds in the men's 50 free with a winning effort of 21.94. That swim came up just shy of his fourth-ranked time of 21.84 from last year at the U.S. Summer Nationals. He's definitely in a good spot in the men's splash-and-dash heading to the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials. Auburn's Fred Bousquet cruised into second with a strong time of 22.05, after ranking third last year with a 21.78 at the Paris Open in June.

The most intriguing storyline came by way of third-place Anthony Ervin. The 30-year-old, who is on the comeback trail with a slew of other top-flight previously retired swimmers, earned third with a 22.27. Most importantly, he was the second-fastest American in the field, finishing behind Adrian, which would be good enough to make the 2012 U.S. Olympics if he can replicate a similar finish at Trials in Omaha. Ervin won Olympic gold in the 50 free at the 2000 Sydney Games, and originally retired from competitive swimming in 2003.

NBAC's Allison Schmitt put a scare into the rest of the world with a blazing time of 1:55.83 in the women's 200 free. That swim came up just short of her top 2012 time of 1:55.82 that ranked sixth, while also being less than a second off Missy Franklin's top-ranked time of 1:55.06 from Worlds last year. Franklin, with Colorado Stars, finished second in 1:57.86, while FAST's Katie Hoff earned third in 1:59.34.

Franklin went back-to-back from the 200 free with a win in the women's 200 back. Her time of 2:08.18 topped the field. BSS's Georgia Davies touched second in 2:11.10, while North Coast's Kendyl Stewart pocketed third in 2:11.60.

Trojan's Ricky Berens, back in his collegiate training grounds, cleared 1:48 to capture the men's 200 free title. His top time last year was a 15th-ranked 1:47.12 from U.S. Winter Nationals last month. FAST's Matt McLean picked up second in 1:48.02, while teammate Michael Klueh placed third in 1:49.79.

Texas A&M's Cammile Adams closed out a strong effort in the women's 400 IM with a top time of 4:38.80. That swim would have put her 14th in the world just a year ago. FAST's Katie Hoff, who ranked 23rd in the world last year with a 4:40.51, improved upon that time with a second-place 4:39.74, while Canada's Alexa Komarnycky finished third in 4:46.06.

NBAC's Michael Phelps, who had sworn off the 400 IM in long course format after winning at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, gave the world something to think about with a winning time of 4:16.95 in the distance medley this evening. It was nowhere near Ryan Lochte's top time of 4:07.13 from last summer at Worlds, but it definitely made the swimming community think twice about what his final Olympic schedule might be. Florida's Conor Dwyer finished a distant second with a 4:21.16, while Andrew King claimed third in 4:21.99. Notably, Tyler Harris of Trojan won the B final in 4:21.66.

Tucson Ford's Matt Grevers raced to victory in the men's 200 back with a 1:57.76, about a half-second back of his 13th-ranked time of 1:57.26 from last August. BSS's Ryan Murphy took second in 1:58.96. Daytona Beach's Ryan Lochte, the two-time reigning Swimming World World Swimmer of the Year, finished third in 1:59.53.

SwimAtlanta's Amanda Weir closed out the women's 50 free field with a winning 25.23. Madison Kennedy placed second in the sprint event with a 25.43, while Jane Trepp earned third in 25.52.