Sunday was the final day of the 2013 Speedo Grand Challenge in Irvine, California, and saw at least one time that sits near the top of the World Rankings this year.
The session began with 5km National champion Haley Anderson winning the 800 meter freestyle in 8:37.47. She and Stanford’s Andie Taylor (8:40.95) were in a dead-heat through 600 meters, but as she’s wont to do, Anderson put on the gas in the last quarter of this race to win rather handily.
That time is about four seconds off of what Anderson was at this same meet last year, but keep in mind that last year, Anderson was two weeks out from the Olympic qualifier in the open water. This year, her next target is a full month away at the U.S. World Championship Trials.
Isabella Rongione from the FISH was 3rd in 8:44.20.
The very next race saw perhaps the best swim of the entire meet. There, Russian Yuliya Efimova won in 2:24.31. That ranks her 4th in the world this year, and is more than a second faster than she was at Russia’s World Championship Trials. Efimova, you will recall, is the defending Olympic bronze medalist in this event.
Her Trojan training partner, and Swedish Olympian, Joline Hostman was 2nd in 2:26.01. USC actually took 1-4 in this race, with Andrea Kropp placing 3rd in 2:27.08, and as the highest-ranking American, and Stina Gardell was 4th in 2:33.86.
Dave Salo, the head coach at USC and the postgrad group at the Trojan Swim Club, says that all of the great international group that’s representing USC has been training with him recently, meaning they’re not just racing under the USC banner at this meet. Further, he says that most of them have signed on through the 2016 Olympics, meaning that though it’s a very different group, Salo will have another high level group headed toward the next Olympics.
In the men’s 200 breaststroke, Mike Alexandrov won in 2:14.50, with New Zealander Glenn Snyders placing 2nd in 2:17.37.
In the women’s 100 backstroke, without any really elite backstrokers in the field, Felicia Lee won in 1:02.26. 16-year old high school swimmer Ella Eastin was 2nd in 1:02.70, and Henriette Stenkvist was 3rd in 1:03.93.
Ella’s younger sister Emily Eastin, who is just finishing her freshman year, was 5th in 1:04.22.
Stanford’s Maddy Schaefer had a great swim out of the consolation final with a 1:03.79.
Russian Vlad Morozov won the men’s 100 backstroke in 54.40 – he’s best known for his sprint freestyling, but also swam the 100 backstroke at the Olympics last year, and will do so again at the upcoming World Championships this summer.
His USC teammate Chase Bloch was 2nd in 56.43 after winning the longer 200 meter race on Saturday night.
14-year old Brad Gonzales picked up the first win of the meet for the home team in the men’s 1500 with a 15:50.43 to take gold by over 10 seconds. That’s not quite his best time (he was a bit faster two weeks ago), but it gives him now the two fastest times in the country by a 14-year old in this event. He’s qualified for the World Championship Trials this summer.
In the women’s 200 fly, another Russian/Trojan swimmer Yana Martynova won in 2:12.14. She did her work steadily throughout this race, putting a few tenths of a second between herself and UCLA’s Noelle Tarazon (2:13.33) on every length.
Andie Taylor from Stanford was 3rd in 2:13.52, and another Bruin Anna Senko placed 5th in 2:15.82.
The men’s 200 fly was won by UC-San Diego’s Dane Stassi in 2:01.85. For Stassi, who is an Irvine native and the defending NCAA Division II champion as just a sophomore, that is a lifetime best result. Coming out of high school, Stassi wasn’t really much to look at in this long course 200 fly – he hadn’t been better than 2:13. He exploded though at Junior Nationals the summer before entering UCSD with an eight-second drop, and since then has continued to make huge strides even with fairly limited long course racing experience.
Corey Okubo was 2nd in 2:02.12, and Gabrielle Hernandez took 3rd in 2:03.93.
Finally, in the last event of the meet, Stanford took a 1-2-3 finish led by Andi Murez in 55.83. Felicia Lee was 2nd in 56.14, and Maddy Schaefer took 3rd in 56.57. Schaefer continues to sit on a bit of a plateau in this 100 sprint freestyle since being one of the faster juniors in history in 2010.
Lindsey Engel was 4th in the 100 free in 57.33.
The men’s race was dominated by Russians, no surprise as they won Olympic bronze in the event last year, with Nikita Lobintsev placing 1st in 48.65.
Vlad Morozov took 2nd place in 49.09, and Alexander Sukhorukov was 3rd in 49.45. That 100 free for Morozov isn’t quite as strong as his 21.7 in the 50 free was earlier in this meet, but still a pretty good result.
German Dimitri Colupaev broke the Russian, but not the Trojan, stranglehold on the event with a 49.81 for 4th.