For at least the 3rd and 4th time this meet, USC/Trojan Aquatics affiliated swimmers went 1-2 in both the men’s and women’s 200 IM
In the women’s race, Katinka Hosszu won in 2:12.29 and Stina Gardell finished 2nd in 2:14.42. For Hosszu, this is her first real quality swim of the meet, is a meet record, and moves her up to rank 10th in the world this year. For Gardell, this is a season best time, and moves her up into the top 30 in the world this year.
In the men’s race, the Trojan tandem on top of the podium was Eric Shanteau and Markus Rogan. Shanteau, who I think has gotta still be considering this 200 IM seriously for the 2012 Olympic Trials, posted a winning time of 1:59.82, which puts him 15th in the world. Rogan, who has said that this 200 IM will basically be his full focus for the 2012 Olympics, swam a 2:00.2 (not his best time of the season).
A day after looking relatively pedestrian underwater next to her self-proclaimed hero Natalie Coughlin, Missy Franklin looked much better in the 200 back, where she took the win in 2:08.36. This put her exactly a full-second ahead of Liz Pelton, who was 2nd in 2:09.36. After a lightning-fast 200 free to open the meet, I think a lot of people expected Franklin’s backstrokes to be a bit faster here than they were, but its clear now that she’s probably in pretty heavy training. That perspective turns disappointment about her backstroke times into excitement about her 200 free time.
Michael Phelps, for all of his struggles in his prime-time event the 200 fly, continues to impress in the 200 backstroke. He took a big win here over friendly rival Ryan Lochte in dominating manner: 1:57.20 for Phelps versus 1:58.82 for Lochte. Phelps now moves into 5th in the world rankings in the backstroke. Given his seemingly waning motivation to train butterfly (which would not be a surprising ailment), perhaps he can begin to seriously consider this 200 backstroke for London. Bob Bowman said the other day that he was dropping the 100 free because it interferes with the 200 fly on the Olympic schedule, but if he continues to swim this well in the backstroke (and this poorly in the butterfly), perhaps its a viable option. He will face STIFF competition against Lochte and Tyler Clary (who reportedly went a 1:54 in practice the other day), but if a change in stroke can revitalize his training, he could definitely take a roster spot.
Indiana’s Eric Ress, who was the 2011 NCAA runner-up and 2010 French Champion in this event broke two-minutes for the first time at a non-championship meet, marking a significant milestone in his career.
Chloe Sutton finished up a three-win meet with a solid 8:31.20 in the women’s 800 free. Just like in the 1500 from the first night of the meet, she held plenty of energy for a strong final 100, this time in 1:01.7. Fellow 19-year old, and Venezuelan National Record holder, Andreina Pinto finished 2nd in 8:33.37.
Similarly to the night’s women’s distance event, the men’s 1500 featured a 1-2 finish by a pair of teenagers. Michigan teammates Ryan Feeley (15:27.04) and Sean Ryan (15:32.87). Those are by far season-best times for each swimmer, and puts them in the top 6 amongst Americans this year.
Just like in yesterday’s 100 back, Natalie Coughlin used an explosive start and great underwaters to win the women’s 100 free in 54.19. That’s a season-best time that moves her up to 7th in the world rankings, and makes her the top-ranked American this year (moving ahead of Jessica Hardy, who sat the race out after hyperextending her elbow earlier in the meet). In fact, every swimmer in the A-final swam her best time of the season, and the American 400 free relay seems to really be rounding into form prior to Shanghai. That includes3rd-place finisher Missy Franklin, in a career textile-best of 54.60 (and 2nd-fastest swim overall; and 7th-place finisher Lauren Perdue, who just completed her sophomore season at Virginia, in a textile-career best of 56.06.
In the men’s 100 free, local Charlotte hero Ricky Berens finally got off of the schneid and won his first ever race at the Charlotte UltraSwim Grand Prix. He won the race in 49.46, which just nips his best time of the year. The runner-up was Scot Robison, who will have a prelims swim on the US 400 free relay at the World Championships this summer, in a solid in-season time of 49.90.
The first individual victory wasn’t the only exciting moment of the night for Berens. His girlfriend, Rebecca Soni, took home the overall meet championship along with the $20,000 grand prize, thanks to two event championships (100 and 200 breaststrokes), a world-leading time (100 breaststroke), and a meet record (100 breaststroke). I feel that when Soni and Berens get back to Los Angeles, after a long, but successful, few weeks that took them to both Brazil and Charlotte together, they’re going to do some relaxing and celebrating (dinner’s on Rebecca!). Berens was a few bonus points (for example, finishing with the fastest prelims times in the 100 free) away from earning a money spot.
Missy Franklin took second, which comes with a $10,000 prize, but to preserve her amateurism, her prize was donated to the Wendy’s Learn to Swim program (minus a small amount for meet expenses, as is allowed by the NCAA). Eric Shanteau took 3rd, and $5,000, thanks to wins in the 200 breaststroke and the 200 IM.
Michael Phelps, who finished 10th, donated his $1,000 prize to charity as well (though he was not required to like Franklin). For all of his struggles in the pool, this is a nice move by Phelps, and one that shouldn’t go unnoticed.
*Donated prize money. Immediate reports were not that Katinka Hosszu, who still has a year of NCAA eligibility left, donated her prize money, thought its yet to be seen if this was just a reporting oversight, or if she has decided to forgo her senior season and go pro.
Missy Franklin all-but sealed up the Grand Prix Series championship by extending her lead to 25 points over Ous Mellouli, who didn’t swim at this meet. Despite sitting the Charlotte stop out, Mellouli maintained 2nd-place (which comes with a $20,000 prize after Franklin declines the prize money again) ahead of Michael Phelps by 1 point, and Ryan Lochte by 6. If Mellouli swims at the Santa Clara meet, the final of the series, he seems to be a pretty sure bet to win the big prize, and with that much money on the line, I can’t imagine him sitting the meet out.