USA Swimming Grand Prix, Charlotte: Rebecca Soni Clocks World-Leading Time

CHARLOTTE, North Carolina, May 11.THE first full day of swimming at the USA Swimming Grand Prix held in Charlotte, N.C., kicked off with a world-leading effort.

Trojan's Rebecca Soni threw down a world-leading time of 1:05.85 to win the women's 100 breast by a large margin. That time cleared the 1:06.12 previously set by training partner Jessica Hardy at the Indy Grand Prix in March. The swim is Soni's second under 1:07 so far this year, as she previously posted a 1:06.88 in Austin in January. Hardy, meanwhile, cruised into second with a 1:07.52, while Micah Lawrence, of the hosting SwimMAC, finished third in 1:08.06 for 22nd in the world rankings.

Hardy bounced back later in the night with a 30.82 to win the women's 50 breast. That swim jumped her to third in the world in the sprint breast, behind only Yuliya Efimova (30.15) and Leiston Pickett (30.68). Soni claimed second in the 50 with a 30.86 to move to fourth in the world rankings, while Tennessee's Molly Hannis clinched third in 31.85 to move to 23rd in the world rankings.

California's Dana Vollmer shot to second-best in the world in the women's 100 fly with a sterling time of 57.21. That swim pushed her past Ellen Gandy (57.25) to second in the world rankings this year, and behind only Sarah Sjostrom's pacesetting 56.79. California's Natalie Coughlin ripped off a second-place 58.82, while Western Kentucky's Claire Donahue finished third in 58.84.

NBAC's Allison Schmitt blew by the rest of the field down the stretch with a strong time of 1:57.38 for the women's 200 free triumph. With U.S. Olympic Trials next month, she's a bit off her third-ranked season-best of 1:55.83 from January. California's Dana Vollmer touched second in 1:58.62, while T2's Katie Hoff wound up third in 1:58.85. Schmitt is the fastest American this year with her season best, while Missy Franklin is second fastest with a 1:57.86 also from January for 23rd in the world rankings.

Trojan's Ricky Berens had an amazing homecoming, as a native of Charlotte, by holding off NBAC's Michael Phelps, 1:47.32 to 1:48.01, in the men's 200 free. Berens went out fast, but Phelps began turning on the steam in the final 100 meters during what is part of his farewell tour in this last few months of his epic career. Berens, however, had enough in the tank to win, moving to 16th in the world rankings, and behind only Phelps in the U.S. rankings. Phelps posted a second-ranked season best of 1:45.69 back in March. Charlie Houchin wound up third overall in 1:49.03. Ryan Lochte wound up finishing sixth with a 1:49.70.

Trojan's Eric Shanteau gave Trojan a third victory on the night with a 1:00.46 in the men's 100 breast. That performance jumped him to 13th in the world rankings, and ahead of Marcus Titus (1:00.86) as the top American in the rankings. NYAC's Mark Gangloff earned second in 1:01.41, while Longhorn's Brendan Hansen placed third in 1:01.51.

Tennessee's Jenny Connolly upset Aquajets' Rachel Bootsma by the slimmest of margins, 27.99 to 28.00, in the women's 50 back. Bootsma, up until Anastasia Zueva went 27.54 in Russia last month, had been the world leader in the sprint back with a 27.84 from the NCSA Junior Nationals in March and is widely known as the top sprint backstroker in the country. Connolly, however, managed to get her hand to the wall first and move to sixth in the world rankings. Athens Bulldog Kristen Shickora earned third in 29.23.

SwimMAC's Eugene Godsoe raced to victory in the men's 50 back with a time of 25.24, just off his sixth-ranked season best of 25.01 from Brazil last month. Schroeder's Adam Mania finished second in 25.40 to tie for 18th in the world, and second best in the U.S. behind only Godsoe. SwimMAC's Nick Thoman wound up third in 25.41 for 21st in the world.

SwimMAC's Davis Tarwater edged NYAC's Tyler McGill, 52.87 to 52.98, for the men's 100 fly crown. McGill has the top American time this year with a third-ranked 51.95 from France in March. SwimMAC's Tim Phillips rounded out the podium with a third-place 53.28.

California's Caitlin Leverenz kept up what has turned out to be a career year after stunning the swimming community at Winter Nationals in December, and throwing down American records at the NCAA Championships in March. Tonight, she blasted an all-star field in the women's 400 IM with a 4:38.35. Her top time this year is an eighth-ranked 4:36.46 from the Indy Grand Prix last month, which puts her atop the U.S. heap in the distance medley. T2's Katie Hoff finished second in 4:40.82, a second back of her 19th-ranked season best of 4:39.74 from the Austin Grand Prix in January. Bluefish's Elizabeth Beisel clinched third in 4:41.22.

Oakland Live Yer Peter Vanderkaay cruised to victory in the men's 400 IM with a 4:16.22 to move to 20th in the world rankings. Trojan's Ous Mellouli placed second in 4:18.81, while training partner William Harris took third in 4:21.27. Ryan Lochte, who may have lost his goggles during the race, finished seventh in 4:26.04.

Club Wolverine's Barry Murphy raced to the win in the men's 50 breast with a 27.81 to take 10th in the world. NYAC's Mark Gangloff took second in 27.89 for 14th in the rankings, while Trojan's John Criste placed third in 28.09.