By Sharon Robb
May 15, 2014
The Arena Grand Prix at Charlotte got under way Thursday with a light schedule at the Mecklenburg County Aquatic Center in Charlotte, N.C.
Denmark’s Lotte Friis won the 1500-meter freestyle with the second fastest time in the world this year in 16:07.14. Clearwater’s Becca Mann, 16, training with Friis at the North Baltimore Aquatic Club, was second in 16:08.86. Gillian Ryan was third in 16:12.64 for a North Baltimore sweep.
Mann nearly reeled in Friis, who turned at 15:04 at the bell, in the final 100 meters with North Baltimore coach Bob Bowman going wild on the pool deck.
It was Friis’ first win of the Grand Prix circuit after finishing second to Katie Ledecky in Austin and Mesa.
Newly-turned pro Connor Jaeger of Club Wolverine won the 800-meter freestyle in 7:58.59 followed by Matt McLean of North Baltimore in 8:03.08, Michael Klueh in 8:06.18 and University of Georgia-bound Kevin Litherland in 8:06.64. Jaeger was at 5:00.70 at the 500 mark and 7:00.30 at the bell lap.
It was Jaeger’s first win as a pro. His time put him at 19th in the world rankings.
A full schedule of events begin today with prelims at 9 a.m. and finals at 6 p.m. They are the 200 freestyle, 100 breaststroke, 50 backstroke, 100 butterfly, 400 individual medley, 50 breaststroke and 400 freestyle relay.
Three former Florida State swimmers are competing in the meet. They are Mateo De Angulo, Mark Weber and Pavel Sankovich. De Angulo, who represented Colombia at the 2012 London Olympics, will compete in the 200-, 400- and 1500-meter freestyle events.
Weber, who turned pro and has been training at SwimMAC since 2013, will compete in the 50- and 100-meter freestyle and 100-meter butterfly.
Sankovich, training for his third Olympic run for Belarus, will swim in the 50- and 100-meter butterfly and 100-meter backstroke.
Four FSU signees will also compete. They are Connor Kalisz and Trevor Hine, both representing North Baltimore Aquatic Club and Calvin Bryant and Ariel Barber.
“It’s great to have these guys racing at this meet,” Florida State coach Frankie Bradley said.
Both sessions will be live-streamed at usaswimming.org. The finals will be televised on Universal Sports Network.
The Arena Grand Prix at Charlotte is the fifth stop on the six-event circuit and is loaded with Olympians.
Friis’ rival Katie Ledecky got a lot of attention Thursday morning even though she is not competing in the meet. The teenager announced she has verbally committed to Stanford.
DAY ONE MEN’S RESULTS
800-meter freestyle: 1. Connor Jaeger, Club Wolverine 7:58.59, 2. Matt McLean, North Baltimore 8:03.08, 3. Michael Klueh, Club Wolverine 8:06.18; 19. Arthur Frayler, Gainesville Swim Club 8:26.59, 27. Robert Finke, St. Petersburg 8:32.86
DAY ONE WOMEN’S RESULTS
1500-meter freestyle: 1. Lotte Friis, North Baltimore 16:07.14, 2. Becca Mann, North Baltimore 16:08.86, 3. Gillian Ryan, North Baltimore 16:12.64; 8. Vien Nguyen, St. Augustine 16:46.42, 13. Summer Finke, St. Petersburg 17:10.88, 16. Autumn Finke, St. Petersburg 17:17.27.
FLORIDA ATLANTIC HIRES HEAD COACH
Lara Preacco was named head men’s and women’s swim coach at her alma mater.
The 1996 Swiss Olympian, former FAU assistant coach (since 2012), grad assistant (1998-2001) and former swimmer (1994-98) was named to replace veteran coach Steve Eckelkamp, whose contract was not renewed.
The FAU Athletics Hall of Famer is one of the few women named to head a Division I program in the country.
Preacco, a Ph.D., broke five Swiss national records and won 38 gold medals with the Swiss national team. At FAU she was MVP in 1995-96 and team captain the following season. Preacco earned her doctorate in counseling psychology at Western Michigan University.
PINE CREST’S HAEFFNER HONORED
Harvard-bound Kent Haeffner of Pine Crest, a state high school champion in the 500-yard freestyle his senior year, was named to the Broward County Scholar-Athlete team and is among six boy finalists for the annual award. Among his scholastic honors: National Merit Finalist, National AP Scholar with Distinction, Cum Laude Society inductee, National Beta Club, National English Honors Society, Rho Kappa, National Spanish Honors and Honor Roll. His GPA was 4.51.
SWIM AROUND KEY WEST
Registration is under way for the June 14 12.5-mile Open Water Swim Around Key West in the Florida Keys. Swimmers can enter either solo or on relay teams of two to six people with or without fins.
The annual Florida Keys Community College Swim Around Key West begins at 8:30 a.m. with check-in at 7:30 a.m.
The open water course begins at the boat ramp at Smathers Beach. The route is a clockwise path around the island taking swimmers through the waters of the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico, ending at Smathers Beach.
Age categories range from 12-and-under to 65-and-over. Registration ends Friday, June 13 and swimmers must check in that day between 11 a.m. and 8 p.m. at Florida Keys Community College pool.
Entry fee is $100 per solo swimmers, $160 per two-person relay, $240 per three-person relay, $320 per four-person relay, $400 per five-person relay and $480 per six-person relay. Discounts are available for U.S. Masters Swimming and USA Swimming members.
Sharon Robb can be reached at email@example.com