By Sharon Robb
June 21, 2014—-Two-time Olympian and University of Florida alum Elizabeth Beisel pulled off an incredible double Saturday at the Arena Grand Prix at Santa Clara at George Haines International Aquatic Center.
Beisel, 21, of BlueFish Swim Club dominated the women’s 400-meter individual medley to win in 4:33.52, the fourth fastest time in the world this year.
Forty-five minutes later, Beisel topped another impressive field to win the 200-meter backstroke in 2:09.11, the sixth fastest time in the world, finishing ahead of Missy Franklin and Elizabeth Pelton.
Color commentator Rowdy Gaines called Beisel’s 400 IM the Swim of the Night.
“I am pretty excited about that,” Beisel said after the 400 IM. “That was my best in-season time by six seconds. I felt good this morning so I knew tonight was going to be good. I think things are beginning to come together for me which is a relief. I want to make the Pan Pac time.”
She was even happier after the backstroke.
“I am pretty tired right now,” Beisel said with a smile. “At least I know the training is working. It was pretty rough. I’m glad it’s over. I am thrilled with this double. It’s definitely a big confidence-booster. It’s nice to know I have these times going into nationals under my belt because it’s going to be a big summer.”
Beisel is one of the most decorated UF student-athletes with two NCAA titles, nine SEC titles and 18 All-American honors.
Texas sophomore-to-be and St. Andrew’s Swimming’s Tasija Karosas, 18, won the 200-meter backstroke “B” final in 2:12.85 to finish tenth overall. She was the Florida Gold Coast’s top finisher.
South Florida Aquatic Club was second in its 800-meter freestyle relay heat in 8:53.57 and finished 11th overall with Melissa Marinheiro, Olivia Katcher, Jessica Rodriguez and Marcella Marinheiro.
Rodriguez, 15, went 5:29.72 in the 400-meter individual medley. Melissa Marinheiro, 17, went 2:07.93 and Katcher, 18, went 2:12.03 in the 200-meter freestyle. Katcher went 29.30 in the 50-meter freestyle. Melissa Marinheiro also went 2:30.62 in the 200-meter backstroke. Rodriguez went 2:42.03 in the 200-meter backstroke.
Other top Florida Gold Coast results: Megan Moroney, 17, St. Andrew’ Swimming, 200-meter freestyle, 2:04.78 and 200-meter backstroke, 2:22.27; Jennifer Marquez, 23, Azura, 200-meter freestyle, 2:06.03 and 50-meter freestyle, 27.21.
In the championship finals:
Women’s 400-meter individual medley:
Beisel dominated the women’s field to win in 4:33.52, dropping 8.38 seconds from her morning swim. Beisel overtook butterfly leader Caitlin Leverenz on the backstroke and pulled away in the breaststroke by two body lengths. Her time was the fourth fastest time in the world this year. The race was for second between former Clearwater swimmer Becca Mann, 16, of North Baltimore Aquatic Club and Caitlin Leverenz, 23, of Cal Aquatics. Mann pulled ahead in the final 50-meters of freestyle to finish second in 4:39.78, just 2/100ths off her personal best. Leverenz was third in 4:43.05. Andreina Pinto, 22, of Gainesville Swim Club was ninth in 4:52.54.
Men’s 400-meter individual medley:
Following Beisel’s dominance, Chase Kalisz, 20, of North Baltimore Aquatic Club pulled away for a body length lead during the breaststroke to dominate the men’s race for a victory in 4:11.71, fifth fastest in the world this year and just 2 ½ seconds off his best time. Sebastien Rousseau, 23, of Gainesville Swim Club was second in 4:17.49 and Jay Litherland, 18, of Dynamo was third in 4:18.29. Diego Decarvalho, 26, of Gainesville Swim Club was ninth in 4:27.96.
“I kind of had an idea of where I wanted to be,” Kalisz said. “I wanted to be a little faster but that’s good for now. I am not really that disappointed. I just came down from heavy training in high altitude. That is the hardest race in swimming. It feels good to come down from altitude after training for it and getting some satisfaction.”
Women’s 200-meter freestyle:
Competing in her first long course Grand Prix of the season, American record holder Missy Franklin, 19, of Cal Aquatics won by half a body length in 1:56.96. She led from wire-to-wire (27.86, 57.42, 1:27.18). Cierra Runge, 18, of North Baltimore Aquatic Club was second in a best time 1:58.35 and Stanford-bound Simone Manuel, 17, of First Colony was third in a personal best 1:59.01. Reigning Olympic champion Allison Schmitt, 24, also of North Baltimore, was seventh in 2:00.66.
“The swim actually felt pretty good,” Franklin said. “Nationals are coming up so quickly. Everyone is swimming really well and looking really great. It is going to shape up to be a really great summer.”
Men’s 200-meter freestyle:
In an exciting three-man race between three North Baltimore Aquatic Club swimmers, reigning Olympic champion Yannick Agnel, 22, of France won in 1:46.99. Michael Phelps, 28, was second in 1:48.20 and Conor Dwyer, 25, was third in 1:48.36. It was Phelps first 200 free final he has swum in a competition since his comeback. All three were coming off altitude training. The field featured six Olympians. Agnel was fifth in the 100 freestyle on Friday in 49.94
“The difference between by 100 and 200 was I had a good night of sleep after the 100,” Agnel said. “I am mastering this event more than the 100. This was like a training session against Michael in practice.”
Said Phelps: “I got left standing still in the last 50 against this guy. It felt good to get my first 200 under my belt. The work in altitude is showing here.”
Women’s 200-meter backstroke:
Beisel overtook the lead on the final 50-meters with a strong kick to win in 2:09.11. Cal’s Elizabeth Pelton, 20, was second in 2:09.73. Fifteen minutes after winning the freestyle, Franklin was third after fading in the last 50 in 2:09.86.
Men’s 200-meter backstroke:
Russian Arkady Vyatchanin of the New York Athletic Club led after the first 100 meters by half a body length and went on to extend his streak in 1:55.30, fifth best time in the world this year. It was only a half second off his best time. Vyatchanin is undefeated in the 200 back in four consecutive grand prix meets since January. Reigning Olympic gold medalist Tyler Clary, 25, swimming unattached was second in 1:58.41. Clary had scratched from the 200 freestyle “B” final to be fresh for the final. Connor Green, 18, of BlueFish was third in 1:59.26. Omar Pinzon, 25, of Bolles was eighth in 2:03.15.
Women’s 50-meter freestyle:
Fresno’s Cheyenne Coffman, 24, of DOGS won in 25.12, a best time by 4/100ths of a second. Madison Kennedy, 26, of SwimMAC was second in 25.32 and 16-year-old Amy Bilquist of Carmel Swim Club was third in 25.32. Former Florida Gold Coast swimmer and Olympian Rhi Jeffrey of Bernal’s Gators was 14th overall in 26.21.
Men’s 50-meter freestyle:
Brazilian Bruno Fratus, 24, after a great start, won the splash-and-dash in 22.03. Olympian Anthony Ervin, 33, was second in 22.58. Josh Schneider, 26, of the New York Athletic Club was third in 22.63. Olympian George Bovell of Trinidad and Tobago won the “B” final in 22.71 that would have tied him fourth in the final.
“I am pretty happy,” Fratus said. “I won’t lie, I miss Nathan Adrian and Cesar Cielo. I was very excited to come to California and race those guys. Anthony gave me a good race. I just have to work hard this summer. There is no secret, no magic, just work hard and keep doing what my coaches tell me, taper for Pan Pacs and visualize touching the wall first.”
Women’s 800-meter freestyle relay:
Mexico won in 8:16.99 with Lilliana Ibanez Lopez, Charetzenl Escobar, Maria Richaud Leyva and Natalia Jaspeado Becerra. Cal Aquatics was second in 8:20.47 and Wisconsin was third in 8:24.23.
Men’s 800-meter freestyle relay:
Wisconsin Aquatics won in 7:31.94 with Cannon Clifton, Brett Pinfold, Nicholas Caldwell and Matthew Hutchins. Mexico was second in 7:36.33 and Santa Clara was third in 7:40.69.
On the fourth and final day, Sunday’s events are the 200-meter butterfly, 100-meter breaststroke, 100-meter backstroke, 200-meter individual medley, women’s 800-meter freestyle, men’s 1500-meter freestyle and medley relay.
The final stop on the Grand Prix six-meet circuit is a final dress rehearsal for this summer’s National Championships and Selection Trials for Pan Pacs in August and 2015 World Championships in Russia, on Aug. 6-10 in Irvine, Calif.
USA Swimming.org will live stream both the prelims and finals. Universal Sports will also televise the meet on June 21-22 starting at 8 p.m.
Sharon Robb can be reached at email@example.com