The final night of swimming from the 2018 Speedo Grand Challenge in Irvine produced some close races, a good number of best times, and a couple of meet records.
Though she really only checked one of those boxes, Cal’s Katie McLaughlin was the star of the night with two wins. She first won the women’s 200 fly in aggressive fashion, out in 1:01.77 at the 100 before holding 14-year-old Justina Kozan at bay down the stretch and touching in 2:11.22. Kozan, who closed the gap by over seven tenths on the third 50, was 2:12.52 for her second best time of the day. She knocked her 2:15.59 PB down to 2:14.87 in prelims, and took another two-plus seconds off in finals. The same went for 3rd place finisher Hannah Farrow, a 17-year-old, who dropped her best from 2:16.77 to 2:16.40 and then 2:14.98 in finals.
McLaughlin then threw down a personal best time in the 100 freestyle, using an incredible second 50 to blow by Abbey Weitzeil for the victory. Out in 27.09, 0.65 back of Weitzeil, McLaughlin stormed home in 27.77 for a time of 54.86, her first time under 55 with her previous best at 55.05 from 2015. She’s now the 6th fastest American in the event this year.
Weitzeil held on for 2nd in 55.75, a bit off her season best from prelims (55.51), and Hungarian Katinka Hosszu was 3rd in 55.92.
Hosszu was also in action in the 100 back, where Team Elite’s Kathleen Baker broke her second meet record of the competition in a time of 1:00.20, breaking her prelim mark of 1:01.10 and moving into 6th among Americans this year. Hosszu was 2nd in 1:01.46, running down Amy Bilquist (1:01.48) at the end. Bilquist brings her season best down by half a second, and 4th place finisher Louise Hansson broke 1:02 for the first time in 1:01.77.
The other meet record on the night went to Ryan Murphy, who, like Baker, broke the 200 mark last night. Murphy was out quick in 25.94, but Ryosuke Irie came back on him at the end, just like in the 200, but narrowly ran out of room. Murphy touched in 53.29, while Irie settled for 2nd in 53.31, producing an impressive back half of 27.03. Both men were well under Vlad Morozov‘s 2013 meet record of 54.40, and just missed their season best times. Jacob Pebley was 3rd in 54.85.
Andrew Seliskar won his third event in three nights, claiming the 200 fly in 1:58.64 to make him the 6th fastest American this year. Trenton Julian took 2nd in 1:59.86, just off his PB of 1:59.71, and Tom Shields was 3rd in 2:00.44 after being the only one sub-2:00 in prelims.
Unlike the majority of meets, there was actually prelims and finals for the distance events (done earlier in the meet, not this morning). Jordan Wilimovsky and Nick Norman went to battle once again in the men’s 1500, with Wilimovsky negative splitting (7:37.7/7:33.9) en route to the win in 15:11.70. Norman, who lowered his best time by over six seconds in prelims down to 15:23.09, took it down another six for 2nd place in 15:16.81. Wilimovsky is currently the 2nd fastest American this year behind Zane Grothe, while Norman is now 4th behind those two and Andrew Abruzzo.
In the women’s distance event, 13-year-old Claire Tuggle produced the 2nd fastest swim of her young career in the women’s 800 free in 8:42.72, topping runner-up Chenoa Devine (8:52.84) by over ten seconds.
Jorie Caneta and Will Licon came out on top in the women’s and men’s 200 breast, with Caneta getting under 2:30 for the first time in 2:29.61, and Licon winning by a wide margin in 2:11.42. Men’s runner-up Jacob Heidtmann of Germany (2:17.14) scored a new best time, while it’s also of note that Josh Prenot swam prelims in 2:11.64 before scratching the final.
Michael Jensen finished the night out in the men’s 100 freestyle, breaking 50 for the 5th time in his career (also did this morning) in 49.51, making him the 7th fastest American this year. Marius Kusch was the runner-up in 50.83.