Manuel touches out Neal, Cal backstrokers roll on closing day of 2015 Speedo Grand Challenge

Stanford teammates Simone Manuel and Lia Neal showed down in the 100 free while Cal teammates Ryan Murphy and Rachel Bootsma dominated the 100 back on the final day of the Speedo Grand Challenge in Irvine.

The battle between Manuel and Neal was easily one of the high points of the night. Manuel, who just wrapped up her freshman season at Stanford, jumped out to a lead of a half-second at the 50 mark. But her older teammate Neal, a former U.S. Olympian, closed hard, bringing things right down to a tenth at the touch. It was the fast-rising Manuel who held on for the win, though, 54.84 to 54.90.

Murphy was impressive in his 200 back yesterday, and kept that strong swimming going with a runaway win the 100 back on day 3. The rising college junior was 54.76, within a second of his season-best in the event.

His college teammate Bootsma, an Olympian like Neal, won the women’s 100 back in a 1-2-3 sweep for Cal. Bootsma jumped into the world’s top 20 for the season with a 1:00.39 – that’s the third-fastest time of any American this year. Elizabeth Pelton was just behind in 1:00.95 and Melanie Klaren rounded out the 1-2-3 in 1:02.11, beating Stanford’s Felicia Lee.

Stanford’s BJ Johnson put the Cardinal in front in the 200 breast, though. His 2:15.30 beat USC’s Glenn Snyders, and denying the New Zealander a sweep of the men’s breaststrokes. Stanford could have had a shot at both 200 breast titles, but Sarah Haase scratched after going 2:33.07 for the top time of prelims. In her absence, the win went to T2’s Justine Bowker, who dropped three seconds from prelims to go 2:30.41.

Trojan teammates Nikita Lobintsev and Cristian Quintero continued their series of battles with the 100 free. Lobintsev won the 200 over Quintero on day 1, but Quintero struck back with a 400 free win last night. The rubber match, though, went back to Lobintsev in 48.83, just a tenth off his season-best from Russian Nationals. Quintero was 49.50 in second.

Arizona State’s Tristin Baxter, also competing for Trojan, won the women’s 800 free in 8:43.19. The other distance race, the men’s 1500, went to Kier Maitland in 15:38.51.

Cal’s Long Gutierrez nipped Stanford’s Bobby Bollier in a hotly-contested 200 fly, 1:59.63 to 2:00.10. Maya DiRado continued a banner weekend with a win in the women’s 200 fly, going 2:10.96 to run away from the field.

You can find full meet results here.

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samuel huntington
5 years ago

the women’s 100 back is really starting to look like a deep event, something where even Missy is not guaranteed a spot. It looks like Rachel and Liz are returning to form after lackluster 2013-2014 seasons, Coughlin may be swimming the event again, and Kathleen Baker is becoming a threat as well.

bobo gigi
Reply to  samuel huntington
5 years ago

A spot is not guaranteed for Missy? 😯

samuel huntington
Reply to  bobo gigi
5 years ago

I can easily see Bootsma and Baker beating her, not saying it will happen though

bobo gigi
Reply to  samuel huntington
5 years ago

Well. I advise you to not put too much money on that bet. 😆
You talk here about the 100 back/200 back olympic and world champion!

Reply to  samuel huntington
5 years ago

It is entirely possible that the Olympic Trials final will have:
Missy Franklin
Rachel Bootsma
Liz Pelton
Natalie Coughlin
Kathleen Baker
Amy Bilquist

That would be SIX Cal Bears.

Reply to  floppy
5 years ago

That would top the performance by Texas men’s 100 fly group at this year’s NCAA.

Bad Anon
5 years ago

Quite so Samuel. Though I think Missys experience as a great racer will see her through at Olympic trials, but I’m putting my money on Kathleen Baker. great things happening at swim mac team elite!

5 years ago

Anyone know if Missy is back in CO training? Maybe she will be stronger for 2016 if she trains at altitude like before.

Reply to  Hank
5 years ago

Missy’s back with Todd prepping for Kazan according to the Denver Post.

Not necessarily a permanent move…

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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