The final day of the 2014 Charlotte Grand Prix will be a thin session, with just 6 finals events, plus the last heats of the timed finals of the Olympic distance events.
- Women’s 800 free (Timed Finals)
- Women’s 200 IM
- Men’s 200 IM
- Women’s 200 Back
- Men’s 200 Back
- Women’s 100 Free
- Men’s 100 Free
- Men’s 1500 Free (Timed Finals)
Among the star attractions will be Conor Dwyer versus Chase Kalisz in the men’s 200 IM final, and Tyler Clary versus Arkady Vyatchanin in the 200 back final. Clary and Vyatchanin were separated by less than a tenth of a second in prelims. The men’s 100 free will also be lined up, where Brazilian Bruno Fratus will see if he can dip under 49 seconds while being chased by, among others, Frenchman Yannick Agnel.
Note: these recaps were originally written at the conclusion of each event.
2014 ARENA GRAND PRIX AT CHARLOTTE
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Women’s 800 Free – TIMED FINALS
Denmark’s Lotte Friis finally looks like she’s settling in at NBAC, winning the first event of Sunday night in 8:26.16.
When Friis is in a groove, few swimmers not named Katie Ledecky can charge out with her on the front half of the 800 free, and in this swim she did just that, building about a 10-meter lead over 16-year old American Becca Mann at the 600-meter mark. That was just enough for Friis to hold on for the eventual event win, but Mann charged hard at the end, making up almost all of that ground in the last 150 meters or so.
The swim came down to a touch between the two North Baltimore training partners, with the veteran Friis getting to the wall first three-tenths ahead of Mann’s 8:26.43. That’s a new lifetime best for Mann.
In her post-race interview, Friis made an interesting comment that the biggest difference for her since coming to train in the United States is that the swimmers push every session, because there’s so much more competition just to make the National Team, let alone to medal internationally. This race was a good representation of that, as Friis was pushed by her young training partner big at the end of this race.
This is a great benchmark time for the Dane as she heads with NBAC for their famous annual month-long altitude training session.
Gillian Ryan, another NBAC swimmer, was 3rd in 8:34.23.
Cierra Runge, yet another NBAC swimmer, was 4th overall in 8:35.89: a time that held up from the earlier heats. Leah Smith broke the NBAC streak with an 8:36.04 to place 5th.
Women’s 200 IM – FINALS
Hungarian Katinka Hosszu took her 5th win of the Charlotte Grand Prix on the front-half of a Sunday-night double, running away with the women’s 200 IM title in a season-best 2:10.80. That’s just two-tenths slower than Hosszu’s season-best from the Maria Lenk Trophy.
Hosszu took an expected big-lead early in this 200 IM, dominating through the butterfly and backstroke legs. On the breaststroke though, which in relative terms is Hosszu’s weakest leg, Georgia’s Melanie Margalis, right next to Hosszu in lane 5, made a big move – she’s very much a back-half swimmer.
On the final turn, however, Hosszu just blew away the field underwater, and made this not close en route to a two-and-a-half second win. Kathleen Baker took 2nd in 2:13.17, and Margalis was 3rd in 2:13.36.
Becca Mann took 4th in 2:16.43, which isn’t a great time for her, except that it was on the back-half of the toughest double possible at this Grand Prix. Specifically, as the women’s 800 free goes right into the women’s 200 IM, she had only about 5 minutes of rest in between races. That’s good evidence of Mann’s toughness.
Men’s 200 IM – FINALS
Brazil’s Thiago Pereira is arguably the best 150-meter IM swimmer in the world. That is, when he pushes his front-half, he usually has a big lead, as he doesn’t really have a weak stroke. His weakness is usually getting chased down on the freestyle leg.
In Charlotte in the A-Final of that event, he built his usual early lead, but he was still able to motor away from a very good field to win in 1:58.44. That’s only half-a-second off of what he did at the Maria Lenk Trophy earlier this year: Brazil’s National Championship meet.
He was the only swimmer under two minutes, as two hard-finishers couldn’t finish hard enough. Conor Dwyer took 2nd in 2:00.06, and Chase Kalisz was 3rd in 2:00.80.
Georgia sophomore Ty Stewart was 4th in 2:01.58. After a very good college season, that swim for Stewart is his non-taper-meet best by two seconds in long course.
Tyler Clary was 5th in 2:03.78, followed by Big Ten swimmers Kyle Whitaker (2:04.37), Steve Schmuhl (2:04.40), and Peter Brumm (2:05.33).
Women’s 200 Back – FINALS
Katinka Hosszu ran her win total to 6 this weekend, on 7 starts, with a 2:10.12 in the women’s 200 IM. Hosszu’s training regiment has put her in an incredible position in these races; Megan Romano was right on the Hungarian’s heels.
But at the end of a long meet, on the back-half of a double, Hosszu hammered a 33.48 closing 50 meters to pull away from Romano and win in 2:10.12.
Romano took 2nd in 2:11.46, and Hannah Moore placed 3rd in 2:12.20.
Elizabeth Beisel had a good swim, given where she’s at this time of year, for 4th in 2:13.03, and Yin Yan Lau from Club Wolverine was 5th in 2:16.36.
Out of the B-Final, Kennedy Goss from Swim Ontario was a 2:14.38.
Men’s 200 Back – FINALS
A late-breaking candidate for swim of the meet, Arkady Vyatchanin of the New York Athletic Club (he trains with the Gator Swim Club) dominated the men’s 200 backstroke on his way to a 1:55.33. That is the fastest time in the career of the country-less former Russian international outside of a full-body polyurethane suit era in 2008 and 2009.
He tore his way to a 55.64 over the first 100 meters, which left him a second-and-a-half ahead of Colombian Omar Pinzon. One might guess at that point that he would start giving up ground, especially to the likes of the defending Olympic gold medalist in this event Tyler Clary.
But in the third length, Vyatchanin built his lead even further, and he and Clary split nearly dead-on coming home to give Vyatchanin an impressive victory. That time leaves him 5th in the World Rankings this year.
Clary was 2nd in 1:58.03, and Pinzon was 3rd in 1:59.76. That’s the best swim we’ve seen yet in the comeback Pinzon, who is working his way back into shape with the Bolles School in Florida. He’s returning from a lengthy drug suspension after eventually winning his appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport by proving that his doping sample was badly mishandled by a testing lab.
The top-finishing junior was Bluefish Swim Club 18-year old Connor Green in 2:00.41.
Women’s 100 Freestyle – FINALS
Both A-Finals (men’s and women’s) in the 100 freestyler were among the best battles we’ve seen all weekend in Charlotte, starting with this women’s heat.
The leaders swam four-wide for most of the race, with the two SwimMAC speedsters Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace and Madison Kennedy turning first (they were 1-2 in the 50 earlier in the meet).
Not far behind, though, was North Baltimore’s Allison Schmitt, and with a big push really over just the last 5-7 meters of this race took a win in 54.65. This swim may have firmly re-established Schmitt as being “back” after some self-confessed time away from the pool, as it’s the most explosive finish we’ve seen from her yet this year.
Kennedy took 2nd in 54.93, holding on to that early speed a littler better than her teammate. Kennedy, in somewhat of a tongue-in-cheek moment, revealed on Saturday that she’s been doing training with the SwimMAC middle-distance group because the sprint group practices sometimes conflict with her work schedule. That mixed-up training certainly hasn’t hurt her sprinting (she was a lifetime best in the 50 free earlier in this meet), but seems to also be bringing some advantages to this 100 as well.
Megan Romano took 3rd in 55.07, followed by AVW (55.42) and British Olympian Jessica Lloyd (55.94).
Men’s 100 Free – FINALS
This men’s 100 free race was absolutely wild, and the only thing that could have made it better would have been a definite winner.
Anthony Ervin, who attacks his 100 free like few other swimmers in the world in long course, split a 22.91 at the 50. That put him half-a-second ahead of anybody in this field, and 1.2 seconds ahead of the plodding giant, Frenchman Yannick Agnel.
But Agnel, who said after the race he just doesn’t have the first-50 speed he’d like to, didn’t slow down much coming home. In fact, without account for the start, his speed was probably about equal, and he fought all the way back and used every inch of his nearly-7-foot wingspan to tie Ervin in 49.51.
The splits side-by-side look crazy, but that’s no malfunction: just two very different swimmers.
Dwyer, who wasn’t in quite as big of a hole at the turn (just eight-tenths back) swam well in his second 50 also, and took 3rd overall in 49.72. Greece’s Kristian Gkolomeev was 4th at 49.92 – he was the one who hung with Ervin a little bit on the way out.
Brazilian Bruno Fratus didn’t have a good finals swim; he added seven-tenths of a second from prelims alone to finish 5th in 50.13, followed by his countrymate Thiago Pereira in 50.61.
Men’s 1500 Free – TIMED FINALS
The primary racing of the 2014 Charlotte Grand Prix finished up on Sunday with the men’s 1500 free, where Club Wolverine’s Connor Jaeger was mostly unchallenged. He swam to a 15:11.46. That gave him a win by over 11 seconds ahead of his training partner MIchael Klueh, who hung with Jaeer for the first 600 meters or so of this race.
Just like the NBAC women did, Club Wolverine took 1-4 in this men’s Olympic distance race. Sean Ryan was 3rd in 15:27.23, and Ryan Feeley (though he officially represents his home Badger Swim Club) was 4th in 15:31.39.
Kevin Litherland of Dynamo in Atlanta was the top-finishing junior, and the fastest swimmer out of the early heats with a 15:47.61 for 5th overall.