2014 Austin Grand Prix: Schmitt is back, beats Ledecky in 200 free on night 2

After making a successful foray into distance racing last night, French star Yannick Agnel is back in his signature race tonight, holding the top seed in the 200 free by over three seconds. His 1:47.18 is easily the top 200 free in the world so far in 2014, and there’s no telling just how much he could lower that mark by at tonight’s finals.

Other races tonight will include 17-year-old Megan Kingsley attempting to hold off Caitlin Leverenz in the women’s 400 IM, superstar Katie Ledecky back in action in the 200 free and two insanely tight fields in both 50 free races. In addition to that, the men’s 400 IM should be a wild affair with the top 6 seeds all within easy striking distance, including Olympians Tyler Clary, Conor Dwyer, Ous Mellouli and Scott Weltz.

Update: According to Tyler Clary’s Instagram, he will not be competing tonight after reinjuring his back during prelims.

Find our Texas Grand Prix championships central here for links to everything you need, including live results and a live stream. In the meantime, keep hitting refresh after 6 p.m. Central to follow along with our live analysis of the night’s results.

Prelims recap here.

 Women’s 400 IM – Finals

The 400 IM looked set up for a great battle between California Aquatics’ Caitlin Leverenz and 17-year-old Megan Kingsley of Mount Pleasant. But apparently Leverenz didn’t like that idea much. The Cal post-grad rumbled past the field to a dominating win, going 4:41.56 to out-pace second place by 9 seconds. She gained the most ground with her excellent breaststroke, splitting 1:19.46, and she also came home well on the freestyle.

The next block of swimmers all shared one quality – youth. None of the next 6 swimmers to finish was over 18 years of age, showing some great up-and-coming talent in the event. 14-year-old Isabella Rongione, who just transferred from The Fish to NCAP, took second with a lifetime-best 4:50.98, and Madison Homovich, 13, out of North Carolina Aquatics went 4:51.68 for third.

Kingsley dropped time herself, taking fourth with a 4:51.96. The next three finishers were 16-year-old Destiny Nelson, 15-year-old Makayla Sargent and 17-year-old Leah Stevens. Joining Leverenz as ‘elder-stateswomen’ (at least, comparatively) of the field was Tera Van Beilen of Canada, who toko 8th.

The B final was a great 3-person race, with Molly Kowal, Danielle Hanus and Regan Barney each going 4:55 – Kowal, 15, won the heat, followed by fellow 15-year-old Hanus and then Barney, who is 14.

That win for Leverenz also pushes her from 4th to 2nd in the total Grand Prix points standings. She’s now 5 points, or just 1 event win, behind current leader Megan Romano. Remember, the winner of this year’s Grand Prix circuit points wins a one-year lease of a brand-new BMW.

Men’s 400 IM – Finals

Forgoing his trademark 200 free at this meet, Conor Dwyer has spent the weekend showing his versatility in other races. So it’s fitting that Dwyer emerged the winner of the 400 IM, as there’s really no other race that requires as much versatility and endurance.

Dwyer used a strong backstroke leg to build a lead on Tunisian Olympian and long-distance specialist Ous Mellouli. The two were almost identical split-wise apart from that backstroke, where Dwyer went 1:06.4 to Mellouli’s 1:07.5. That one second proved to be the difference as Dwyer went 4:16.58 to Mellouli’s 4:17.69.

Top seed Josh Prenot was in the hunt for the first 300 meters as well – he actually put up the fastest backstroke and breaststroke splits of the field, but wasn’t able to match the incredible closing speed of Dwyer and Mellouli. Prenot, who swims for the Golden Bears of the University of California, still wound up third with a 4:19.13.

NCAP 17-year-old Andrew Seliskar rose to the occasion at finals, dropping 7 seconds off his prelims swim to improve from the 7th seed to 4th place. He was helped with one spot by the scratch of Tyler Clary, who announced just before finals that he was done for the weekend with a flare-up of an existing back injury this morning.

Palo Alto’s Curtis Ogren took fifth, three tenths up on Olympian Scott Weltz. 15-year-old Sean Grieshop of Nitro took seventh, and Michael Weiss, who snuck into the A final on Clary’s scratch, went a few seconds slower to take 8th place.

Alec Page had a great swim to charge to a win in the B final – he went 4:26.34, almost 6 seconds better than he was this morning.

Women’s 200 Free – Finals

In a battle of US Olympians, it was Allison Schmitt who triumphed over Katie Ledecky in the 200 freestyle. Schmitt, making her comeback after a disappointing 2013, touched out Ledecky in the event Schmitt won Olympic gold in a year-and-a-half ago.

The two were shoulder-to-shoulder most of the way, separated by just .02 at the 100-meter turn, but Schmitt had the closing speed to push past Ledecky and win by .05, 1:57.71 to 1:57.76.

Third was a rising star who is more and more joining the ranks of Schmitt and Ledecky as iconic female freestylers – Simone Manuel went a lifetime-best 1:59.33, going out with the top two but running out of gas enough to make a charge late. Manuel, who won the 100 free over Schmitt last night, will be competing for Stanford starting next season.

Kathleen Baker, 16 years old of SwimMAC, took fourth in 2:00.61, and distance and open water specialist Chloe Sutton was fifth, followed by SMU’s Nina Rangelova and Texas’s Quinn Carrozza.

Danish distance star Lotte Friis wound up 8th in 2:02.05 – she’s come to the states to join Schmitt’s training group at NBAC.

Men’s 200 Free – Finals

Yannick Agnel is a man on fire.

After besting a pair of international distance stars in the 400, plus finishing second to Nathan Adrian in the 100 free last night, Agnel was back at it on night 2 in the middle-distance, going an unbelievable 1:45.76 to win the 200 free.

That’s easily the top time in the world so far this year (in fact, Agnel’s prelims 1:47.1 was the previous 2014 best), and would have been the 7th fastest time in all of 2013, World and European Championships included.

His North Baltimore training partner Matt McLean took second, going 1:48.94, a nice time for the former University of Virginia star. And Tunisian star Ous Mellouli, who recently jumped in with Agnel and McLean at NBAC, took third to make a 1-2-3 North Baltimore sweep in the event. Mellouli was 1:50.13.

Club Wolverine’s Michael Klueh took fourth followed by Cal’s Tom Shields, usually a butterflyer who was the runaway winnner in the 100 of that stroke last night. Distance swimmer Michael McBroom was 6th and a pair of Canadians, Stefan Milosevic of the University of British Columbia and Jeremy Bagshaw out of California, rounded out the top 8.

The B final was another showdown of big names. SwimMAC’s Dax Hill, who swam his college years in this very pool, won in 1:50.80. Charlie Houchin was 10th overall, just a tenth behind, and Tom Luchsinger of NBAC took 11th.

Women’s 200 Back – Finals

Canadian Olympian and national record-holder Hilary Caldwell won the 200 back in Austin by well over a second, going 2:10.78 to best one of her top countrywomen Dominique Bouchard. Bouchard, who lit up the NCAA with Missouri before moving to Oakville Aquatick Club, was 2:12.06 for second place.

Current Grand Prix leading money-earner Megan Romano earned another $100 check by finishing third – she went 2:13.16 to just beat out another Canadian, Meryn McCann. McCann, just 15 years old, went 2:13.53 representing Swim Ontario. 

Palo Alto and future Stanford swimmer Ally Howe was fifth, NCAP-er Megan Byrnes sixth, Mary Kate Davis seventh and Danielle Hanus rounded out the field as the fourth Canadian in the top 8.

 Men’s 200 Back – Finals

After taking the top two seeds in prelims, Cal teammates Ryan Murphy and Jacob Pebley held their spots at finals, but needed every hundredth of a second they could drop to do it. Murphy, who was 1:58.8 this morning, went 1:57.29 to win the event, and Pebley was just a few tenths behind in 1:57.50.

The pair of Golden Bears had to fight off Russian Arkady Vyatchanin, who came within .08 of breaking up the duo. The New York Athletic Club swimmer was 1:57.57 for third place honors.

Germany’s Christian Diener, 20 years of age, was fourth, and another international, Craig McNally of Scotland, joined him under 2:00, taking fifth.

The top 5 really separated themselves from the field – the next three swimmers all came in together at 2:04. That included SwimMAC’s Nick Thoman, Palo Alto’s Curtis Ogren (coming off the A final of the 400 IM earlier tonight) and Matthew Swanston of Swim Ontario.

Germany’s Felix Wolf won the B final in 2:02.21, besting 400 IM champ Conor Dwyer and NCAP 17-year-old Andrew Seliskar.

Women’s 50 Free – Finals

In a tightly-bunched final field for the splash-and-dash, it was savvy veterans who rose to the top. Multi-time Olympian Natalie Coughlin went 25.17, getting her hand on the wall first in a field loaded with big names.

27-year-old Amanda Weir took second place, going 25.23 to just nip Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace (25.24). Vanderpool-Wallace, a former Auburn star who now competes for SwimMAC Carolina, was herself just three tenths ahead of the next finisher, Simone Manuel, the 17-year-old who won the 100 free against many of these same swimmers last night. Manuel, who swims for First Colony, finished third in the 200 free just a few events earlier.

Canada’s Victoria Poon came in fifth with a 25.52 and Puerto Rican Olympian Vanessa Garcia was sixth, just .02 back.

Former LSU star Amanda Kendall was 25.61 for seventh in the second meet of her career comeback, and Hannah Riordan took 8th.

Riordan’s teammate Sandrine Mainville finished 9th overall, winning the B final with a 25.45. That was faster than SwimMAC’s Kelsi Hall and Athens Bulldogs’ Megan Romano, who was coming off the last women’s event, the 200 back.

Men’s 50 Free – Finals

Much like the 100 free last night, this 50 free looked to be a deadheat coming out of prelims. But just like last night, it wound up being Nathan Adrian alone at the front. Adrian went 21.89, the only man under 22 in this field and the first man sub-22 in the world for 2014. The Cal Bear was once again dominant in the sprint races, putting up a very respectable early-year time.

His teammate Anthony Ervin finished second, going 22.48 to touch out Jimmy Feigen by just .01. SwimMAC Olympian Cullen Jones took home fourth and backstroke world champion Matt Grevers was fifth.

Karl Krug was the last swimmer under 23 – he went 22.89 for sixth. Roy-allan Burch and Geoffrey Cheah rounded out the top 8.

Dax Hill won his second B final of the night, going 23.02 for 9th place. In that heat was Michael Andrew, who, despite tying his NAG record in prelims and breaking it during a time trial, wasn’t able to set another National Age Group record, going 23.36. His old record was 23.38, making this the second-fastest 13-14 year old 50 freestyle in U.S. history, but his time trial time of 23.19 will stand as the current record.

Women’s 800 Free Relay – Finals

Frisco Aquatics won the 800 free relay with a youthful team of 14 to 16 year-olds. The team of Destiny Nelson, Rachel Ramey, Camryn Toney and Gabrielle Kopenski went 8:33.94, powered by a 2:04.77 split on the anchor leg by Kopenski.

That was almost, but not quite, the fastest split in the field – that distinction goes to runner-up North Carolina Aquatic Club’s Madison Homovich, who went 2:04.03. NCAC was 8:40.39 for second place, and Homovich was joined by Claire DeSelm, Sophia Perez and Mia Morrell.

Lakeside Aquatic took third overall in 8:41.13, sitting second before Homovich led NCAC’s charge on the final 200 meters.

Men’s 800 Free Relay – Finals

The men’s 800 free relay kicked off with a great leadoff battle between Sean Grieshop of Nitro and Ramiro Ramirez of Mexico’s ITESM. Grieshop went 1:55.27 to Ramirez’s 1:55.65, and that lead held up, with Nitro winning the event 7:49.11 to 7:50.18.

Grieshop was joined on the winning relay by Mason Tenney, Taylor Abbott and Joshua Artmann.

Santa Clara took third in 7:52.09, followed by NCAC.

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bobo gigi

Ok. Ready for day 2 finals! Very weak women’s 400 IM. I will watch the young Madison Homovich. She has great results in Austin so far. Good battle in the men’s 400 IM. But unfortunately without Tyler Clary who is out of the meet due to a back injury. Hopefully for him it’s not too serious. Yannick Agnel and Katie Ledecky should very easily win the 200 free races around 1.45 and 1.56. Allison Schmitt will be to watch. She was very good for her return yesterday in the 100 free. If she’s able to swim 1.58 behind Katie, it will be great. Very weak women’s 200 back. Ryan Murphy should win the men’s 200 back. 1.56 in January would… Read more »


Plz note Taylor Abbott w two T’s. Watch this 15 yr old take on the mile today!!


Looks like races of the night should be M 400IM, W 50 Free, and possibly W 200 Free if Schmitty can kick it up a notch tonight. I don’t think the M 50 will be that close. I pick:


bobo gigi

Without Clary, Dwyer should dominate the 400 IM.
The young Seliskar and Grieshop are interesting to watch for the future.


Sorry about the autocorrect; first two should be Leverenz and Clary, obviously!

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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