USA Swimming Grand Prix, Charlotte: Rebecca Soni Sets Another World Leader; Michael Phelps Posts Final Grand Prix Swim

CHARLOTTE, North Carolina, May 12. REBECCA Soni has had an outstanding meet thus far at the USA Swimming Grand Prix held in Charlotte, first posting a world leader in the 100 breast before knocking down another one in the 200 breast this evening. Meanwhile, Michael Phelps said goodbye to the Grand Prix circuit in his farewell circuit throughout the sport as he has vowed to retire for good after the 2012 London Olympics.

Trojan's Rebecca Soni charted another world-leading time this weekend. Tonight, she dropped a 2:22.22 to win the women's 200 breast, clearing her 2:22.73 pacesetting time from the Austin Grand Prix in January. She now has three of the top 10 times this year, along with a 2:24.32 from Mission Viejo in April. SwimMAC's Micah Lawrence snatched second with a personal-best time of 2:24.62. That time beat her 2:24.85 from the Indy Grand Prix to move to 10th in the world rankings. California's Caitlin Leverenz placed third in 2:27.14.

California's Dana Vollmer threw down a personal-best time of 25.80 to win the women's 50 fly. That time shot her to second in the world rankings behind only Jeanette Ottesen's 25.29. The effort also would have put her in the top eight of this evening's women's 50 free, and finished a bit shy of Dara Torres' time trial American record of 25.50 set in 2009. Western Kentucky's Claire Donahue touched second in 26.69, while SwimMAC's Andrea Georoff finished third in 26.87. Notably, Maryland's Ann Fittin won the B final in 27.41, which would have taken fourth in the A final.

Australia's Matt Targett raced to a dominant victory in the men's 50 fly with a 23.11. That time pushed him to fourth in the world this year, behind only Cesar Cielo (22.76), Nicholas dos Santos (22.79) and Fred Bousquet (23.02). SwimMAC's Eugene Godsoe (23.89) and Cullen Jones (24.18) placed second and third.

Trojan's Eric Shanteau moved to sixth in the world rankings this year with a swift 2:09.72 in the men's 200 breast. That effort matched Clark Burckle's time from the Indy Grand Prix for sixth in the world, and as the top Americans thus far this year. Kosuke Kitajima has the best time this year with a 2:08.00 from the Japanese Nationals in April. Longhorn's Brendan Hansen placed a distant second in 2:11.74 to take 22nd in the world rankings, while training partner Christian Schurr took third in 2:15.03.

Longhorn's Kathleen Hersey topped the women's 200 fly with a 2:08.68 for the win. That swim pushed her to 15th in the world rankings, and second in the U.S. behind Cammile Adams' 2:06.76 from Austin in January. Stanford's Elaine Breeden claimed second in 2:09.67, while NYAC's Kim Vandenberg earned third in 2:09.63.

Club Wolverine's Wu Peng clipped NBAC's Michael Phelps, 1:56.69 to 1:56.87, in the men's 200 fly. Wu moved to 23rd in the world rankings, clearing his previous season best of 1:57.16 from Chinese Nationals in April. Phelps, in his final Grand Prix swim of his career, fell short of his fourth-ranked season best of 1:55.32 from March. Gator's Sebastien Rousseau clinched third place in 1:57.54

Trojan's Jessica Hardy claimed the women's 50 free title in 24.83 to move to 13th in the world rankings, clipping Madison Kennedy for the top U.S. swim this year. Kennedy posted a 24.99 at the Indy Grand Prix in March for 19th in the world. Kennedy, representing SwimMAC, took second in 25.01 while Kara Lynn Joyce, now also swimming for SwimMAC, placed third in 25.09.

SwimMAC's Josh Schneider clinched the men's 50 free crown with a personal-best time of 22.10. That effort jumped him to 20th in the world rankings, and behind only Nathan Adrian (21.88) as the top American. Australia's Matt Targett checked in with a second-place 22.37, while Auburn's Gideon Louw earned third in 22.61. Notably, California's Anthony Ervin, 2000 Olympic gold medalist, was disqualified in prelims as he continues on the comeback trail.

In a fun finish, T2's Elizabeth Pelton and Aquajets' Rachel Bootsma deadheated in the women's 100 back with matching times of 1:00.25. Bootsma has been faster this year with a ninth-ranked 1:00.02, while Pelton moved to 13th in the world rankings. California's Natalie Coughlin placed third in 1:00.83. California's Teri McKeever had to be excited with a trio of Golden Bear-connected swimmers sweeping the podium. Pelton and Bootsma are both headed to Cal after the summer. Notably, the top U.S. swimmer in the world this year is Missy Franklin, who stands seventh in the world with a 59.89 from the Indy Grand Prix, but sat out this meet.

SwimMAC's Nick Thoman turned in a 53.77 to win the men's 100 back, just off his eighth-ranked season best of 53.74 from March. Thoman is third in the U.S. behind Matt Grevers (53.55) and David Plummer (53.73) so far this year. Pacesetter's Ben Hesen checked in with a 54.19 to jump to 24th in the world rankings. SwimMAC's Eugene Godsoe placed third in 54.22. Ryan Lochte, still in heavy training, faded to eighth with a 56.43 that also included hitting the lane line. Lochte's meet has been filled with some tough obstacles, including a goggleless 400 IM last night.

NBAC's Allison Schmitt ripped off a 4:05.40 to win the women's 400 free. That performance jumped her to fourth in the world behind only Camille Muffat (4:01.13), Rebecca Adlington (4:02.35) and Kylie Palmer (4:03.40). Curl Burke's Katie Ledecky, 15, pushed Schmitt the entire way with a second-place time of 4:05.79 to shoot to ninth in the world. Ledecky just missed downing Janet Evans' 15-16 National Age Group record of 4:05.45 set back in 1988. Ledecky is on path to knock down that record. Mission Viejo's Chloe Sutton wound up third overall with a 4:07.53 to take 22nd in the world.

Trojan's Ous Mellouli checked in with a 3:50.17 to win the men's 400 free, while Charlie Houchin took second in 3:50.85. Club Wolverine's Connor Jaeger posted a third-place time of 3:50.87.