Hungarian superstar Katinka Hosszu finally made her 2018 racing debut this morning at the Speedo Grand Challenge in Irvine, swimming preliminary heats in the women’s 200 IM and 50 freestyle. This comes amid a crazy week for the USC grad, who publicly announced she split from longtime husband and coach Shane Tusup on Thursday. Adding insult to injury, her Facebook page was deleted shortly after, though she claims it wasn’t by her.
Nonetheless, Hosszu took to the water for the first event of the meet in the 200 IM, posting the top time by well over five seconds in 2:11.91. She moves into 18th in the world for the season, as this is not only her first race of the calendar year, but is her first long course race of the 17-18 season. Local college swimmers Louise Hansson (2:17.50) of USC and Sarah Darcel (2:17.55) of Cal sit 2nd and 3rd, with 13-year-old Claire Tuggle (2:18.16) in 4th. Tuggle also leads the women’s 400 free in 4:17.55.
The meet will uniquely have a 4-swimmer A-final, with regular ‘B’ and ‘C’ finals consisting of 8 swimmers. This comes into play in Hosszu’s other event, the 50 free, where she tied with Amy Bilquist and Caroline Baldwin for 3rd in 25.87. Cal’s Abbey Weitzeil leads the field in 25.36, and early indications show the swim-off has been scrapped and someone has scratched. It could well be Hosszu, considering she already has the 200 IM final and the 50 free is far from a primary event for her.
Other notable names swimming include Ryan Murphy, Andrew Seliskar, Zheng Wen Quah and Jacob Pebley, all of Cal, who occupy the four finals spots in the men’s 200 free. They are tightly bunched, led by Murphy at 1:50.78, and Pebley is 4th less than half a second back in 1:51.26.
Ruta Meilutyte was in action leading the women’s 100 breast field in 1:10.12, as was Josh Prenot, Will Licon and Connor Hoppe for the men, sitting 1-2-3 led by Prenot (1:01.60). Licon and Ryosuke Irie were also in the men’s 200 IM, qualifying 2nd and 3rd overall behind Trenton Julian (2:04.67). Jordan Wilimovsky won the first heat of the men’s 1500 in 15:39.83, but Cal’s Nick Norman dropped a PB of 15:23.09 in the next heat to take the top spot.