Day 1 of the 2014 Orlando Grand Prix is underway at the YMCA Aquatics Center, and day 1 is under way. Thursday’s first day of action will feature the 200 freestyles, the 100 breasts, the 100 fly, and the 400 IM individually.
Women’s 200 Free – Prelims
Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu doesn’t have a definition of ‘coasting through prelims,’ especially at a meet where she’s limited to 7 events, and especially when that meet is in February. She showed that off by rocketing to a 1:57.60 top seed in the prelims of the women’s 200 free to start the day 1 prelims in Orlando.
She was out pretty quick in this race by her own standards, starting in a 56.9, and blew away this prelims field early. Her teammate Agnes Mutina, who also swam in the last of the circle-seeded morning heats, was a 2:01.42, and by the halfway mark was already almost two body-lengths behind Hosszu.
The top American seed in this international-heavy field was Chloe Sutton from IX3 in North Carolina; she was a 2:02.09 for the 3rd seed, which is a little better than she was this time last year, and about half-a-second ahead of her typical 200 free for this time of year when she was training with Mission Viejo.
Behind her were a pair of teenagers: 16-year old Jordan Stout in 2:02.89 for 4th, and 14-year old Courtney Harnish in 2:03.07 for 5th. A 3rd Hungarian, Evelyn Verrastzo, will be in the A-Final (2:03.18), followed by British backstroker Lizzie Simmonds (2:03.31) and American Megan Romano (2:03.53).
Among the more noteworthy names to finish in lower finals include T2’s Amanda Kendall (2:03.63 – 9th), Venezuelan Andreina Pinto (2:04.41 – 12th), Canadian Olympian Hilary Caldwell (2:05.40 – 16th), and American National Teamer Ashley Steenvoorden (2:06.30 – 21st).
Men’s 200 Free – Prelims
Ryan Lochte missed what would have been his comeback race (see why here), but there was still a good depth of talent in this men’s race. The top seed went to a European named Yannick; not the one from France, though, this one is 25-year old Yannick Lebherz, who makes an annual pilgrimage to this meet. He was a 1:50.31 for the top seed, followed by Dion Dreesens, a Dutch swimmer who’s been training with SwimMAC Carolina for a chunk of time.
Darian Townsend from South Africa is the 3rd seed after prelims in 1:51.52, completing an international sweep of the middle lanes. Though Club Wolverine’s Tyler Clary was able to get in with the 4th seed in 1:51.58 ahead of Canada’s Ryan Cochrane (1:51.59), 5 swimmers in the A-Final, and 7 swimmers in the B-Final, are all internationals.
Included in that B Final is Texas commit Joseph Schooling with a 1:54.69. that’s about five seconds away from his best in the first long course swim we’ve seen from him on American soil this season.
The entire C final and D final are also internationals, marking a grand total of just 4 Americans in the top 32 finishers in prelims of the men’s 200 free.
Women’s 100 Breast – Prelims
The top three seeds in the women’s 100 breaststroke belong to two NCAA Champions in the 200 breaststroke, and an Olympic finalist in the 200 breaststroke, in Alia Atkinson, Laura Sogar, and Micah Lawrence, respectively.
But the thing to note about this final is that it’s heavy with ‘professional’ talent, meaning that the lines between 100 and 200 breaststroke specialists, especially in February, are blurred.
Atkinson, who’s really moved to more of a sprint specialty since graduating from college, is the top seed in 1:09.11, followed by Laura Sogar (1:09.38) and Micah Lawrence (1:09.41). Rounding out that top group is former Columbia All-American Katie Meili in 1:09.59, before a rather steep dropoff to the 5th seed Justine Bowker in 1:12.00.
It’s fairly common to see the pros dominate these meets in the men’s races, but there’s usually a significant contingent of Americans who step up into the A-finals on the women’s side. Not so in this meet – the only swimmer that by American definitions would be considered a “high school student” was the 8th seed, 17-year old Hungarian Fanni Ferenczi with a 1:12.88. that’s a positive sign for the development of the American pro ranks.
Meanwhile, the juniors will still get their chance at development, with several of them in the B-Final, including Canadians Olivia Paskulin and Sydney Pickrem in 1:12.9 and 1:13.1, respectively.
Men’s 100 Breast – Prelims
Mike Alexandrov continues to chug along with amazing Grand Prix consistency, and he took the top seed in the men’s 100 breaststroke in 1:02.79. He was followed by Brazilian Felipe Lima (1:03.00) and Tennessee post-grad Brad Craig (1:03.25), who’s had a breakout year that might be just enough to keep him in the water for a few more seasons as a pro.
Long-time member of the Trojan Swim Club training group Azad Al-Bazari, who is a Syrian national, is the 4th seed in 1:03.33.
The 4th seed is Zach Hayden, who has moved to Ann Arbor to train with Club Wolverine after years spent training at NCAP. The 26-year old swam a 1:03.64 for the 5th seedm which is the first time he’s swum a long course race since the 2012 Olympic Trials.
Rounding out the A-Final are Marcus Titus (1:03.80), Matthew Ackman (1:03.86), and Finland’s Eetu Karvonen (1:04.04). 14-year old Michael Andrew was the youngest swimmer in any of the four finals with a 1:04.86 for 13th place; that’s about a second away from his National Age Group Record swim from earlier this year.
Women’s 100 Fly – Prelims
Canadian Katerine Savard was on an absolute tear in 2013, and in her first long course meet of 2014 seems to be on that same path. She swam a 58.79 for the top seed in prelims of the 100 fly, as two Canadians and an American were the only swimmers under a minute.
This is much earlier in the year than she swam any long course meets in 2013, as she was exclusively in short course racing until Canada’s World Championship Trials in April. However, her long course time here was almost as fast as her short course times were early last year, which is quite unusual.
The other two swims under a minute were Claire Donahue (59.53), who represents Western Kentucky but has been training in Florida for the last few weeks; and Audrey Lacroix (59.92) the Canadian veteran who will be a favorite later in the 200 fly.
American Amanda Kendall, on the comeback taril as well at 23-years old, was the 4th seed in 1:00.91, and the youngest A-finalist is Lauren Case from Chattahoochee Gold in Georgia with a 1:01.01 for the 5th seed.
Men’s 100 Fly – Prelims
There were two big American scratches at the top of the men’s 100 fly rankings, Nick Thoman and Ryan Lochte, which left the international swimmers to absolutely dominate this race in the morning prelims.
The top 17 finishers in the heats are all internationals, with a total of 29 out of 32 finalists overall representing non-American countries. In fact, the highest American finisher was 14-year old Michael Andrew (56.32) which will raise a few eyebrows. He’ll swim in the C-Final with the likes of Cullen Jones (21st – 56.67) and Alex Forbes (56.73), both of whom are at least 12 years Andrew’s senior.
At the top of the pile, at least, will be a group of foriegn swimmers who at least train in the United States. That includes Auburn-based Venezuelan Albert Subirats, who was a 54.18 to earn a little separation after prelims.
The 2-3-4 swimmers are bunched together fairly tightly, with Japan’s Masayuki Kishida, Singapore’s Joe Schooling, and Venezuelan 18-year old Luis Martinez in 4th with a 54.83.
Women’s 400 IM – Prelims
Katinka Hosszu only used two of her seven allowed swims on the meet’s first day in Orlando, but both went to top seeds, with an emphatic 3:38.84 in the heats of the women’s 400 IM.
While that was an impressive swim, and took the top seed by 8 seconds, based on what she swam in Luxembourg last weekend (4:37.9) and Nice the weekend before (4:37.6) in much busier schedules, look for an even bigger drop tonight.
American Caitlin Leverenz is the 2nd seed in 4:46.79, and Thi Anh Vien Nguyen, from Vietnam but who attends high school in Florida, is the 3rd seed in 4:49.12.
Canadian-American Sydney Pickrem is 4th in 4:53.01, and Alessia Polieri is 5th in 4:55.05. Seed times out of prelims continued to drop after that, but there were two pretty impressive young swimmers who earned second swims: 14-year old Courtney Harnish from the York YMCA was a 4:57.03 for the 7th seed, and Christin Rockway from Tampa Bay Aquatics was a 4:59.80 for the 9th seed.
Men’s 400 IM
The Hungarian men were even more impressive than the women in the 400 IM, with a similar top seed from David Verraszto in the men’s 400 IM in 4:20.53 that moves him to 10th in the world rankings in 2014.[ranking title=”2014 LCM Men 400 IM World Ranking” top=9]
Close behind were two Americans, with Wisconsin’s Michael Weiss taking 2nd in 4:25.50 and Club Wolverine’s Tyler Clary taking 3rd in 4:27.28.
The 4th seed was another Hungarian David Folhazi in 4:28.77; he’s the first full-time training partner that Katinka Hosszu has had in a while, and has joined her and husband/coach Shane Tusup on most of their global trek of late.
Ian Rainey was the 5th seed in 4:29.14, followed by the Texas post-grad Michael McBroom (4:30.05) and Mexico’s Andrew Olvera Alejos (4:30.88).
In the battle-within-the-battle, standout German 14-year old Johannes Hintze was a 4:39.20 for the 15th seed, and Michael Andrew was a 4:40.45 for the 19th seed. That means they’ll just miss a head-to-head matchup, which might not have mattered as Andrew scratched this 400 IM final to focus on the 100 fly and 100 breast.