WRITTEN BY SHARON ROBB
May 12, 2011
In what looked more like a prizefight, Cullen Jones won the much-hyped 50-meter freestyle swim-off against Josh Schneider by 4/100ths of a second Thursday night at the 27th annual Charlotte UltraSwim at the Mecklenburg County Aquatic Center in downtown Charlotte.
As “The Final Countdown” song played in the background, Jones walked out with a white towel around his neck and Schneider wore a dark hoodie over his head.
In front of cheering hometown fans, SwimMAC Carolina teammates Schneider, 23, of Cincinnati, Ohio marched out and draped a blue towel over his starting block.
Jones, 27, of New Brunswick, N.J. followed and covered his block with an orange towel.
After tying at the U.S. Long Course Nationals and worlds qualifier in 21.97, Jones was first to touch in 22.24 in the swim-off. Schneider finished in 22.28. Both are Top 15 world times this year.
“The start went really well,” Jones said. “I’ve been working on trying to get a quick breath. It’s something that I’m going to continue to work on. I’m just happy I finished it.
“I know a lot of people built it up like two boxers and I think we definitely went at it like that,” Jones said. “But at the same time, we’re friends. We definitely train well together. It’s just been kind of an elephant in the room.”
Jones will join Nathan Adrian in the 50-meter freestyle on the U.S. roster for this summer’s World Aquatic Championships in Shanghai, China. Schneider earned a spot on the World University Games roster for the U.S. in Shenzhen, China.
Said Schneider: “Disappointed. I knew what it would take to win. We both did. He is a gold medalist for a reason. It’s hard to topple a giant like that.”
SOFLO’s Tiffany Oliver, Vlad Polyakov and Tyler Sell will beging competition in Friday’s prelims.
In opening night championship finals on Thursday:
Chloe Sutton, 19, of Mission Viejo won the women’s 1500-meter freestyle in 16:16.11, bettering her seed time of 16:21.12. It is the ninth fastest time in the world this year. Adreina Pinto, 19, of Gator Swim Club was second in 16:18.79.
Sean Ryan, 18, of Scenic City Aquatics won the men’s 800-meter freestyle in 8:11.10.
Ricardo Monasterio, 32, of Davie Nadadores was fourth in 8:13.61, bettering his seed time of 8:15.82. University of Florida-bound Carlos Omana, 18, of Metro Aquatics was fifth in 8:16.76. Ryan Rosenbaum, 16, of Team FLA was 40th in 8:48.99.
SOFLO’s Kevin Bandy, 29, swimming unattached was 44th in 8:51.07.
Prelims and finals are 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. respectively Friday through Sunday.
Race footage of both prelims and finals will be webcast live by USA Swimming at www.usaswimming.org/charlottegrandprix.
Sharon Robb can be reached at email@example.com