By Sharon Robb
April 16, 2015—South Florida Aquatic Club swimmers had one of their best showings as a team on Day Two of the Mesa Arena Pro Swim Series Thursday at Skyline Aquatic Center in Arizona.
Three-time Jamaican Olympian and world record holder Alia Atkinson was second in her signature event, the 100-meter breaststroke, in 1:08.01 behind Katie Meili of SwimMAC in 1:07.28.
Teammate Lisa Blackburn, at 43 the oldest swimmer in the meet, was fifth in the “D” final in 1:14.81.
South Florida Aquatic Club’s Jorge Murillo Valdes of Colombia was fifth in the 100-meter breaststroke in 1:03.08.
Colombian teammate Carolina Colorado of SOFLO was sixth in the “B” final of the 100-meter butterfly in 1:02.06.
The team is in the middle of heavy training while competing in the meet. It is the largest contingent of pro swimmers SOFLO has sent to a national meet.
In other races, Michael Phelps won the first race of his comeback after coming off his sixth-month suspension following his DUI arrest last September, Phelps won his signature event, the 100-meter butterfly in 52.38, more than 7/10ths of a second ahead of Ryan Lochte in 53.11 out-touching Tom Shields in 53.18.
Phelps led at the turn in 24.71 seconds. He was also faster than his top qualifying morning swim of 52.92. His world record is 49.82 set in 2009.
With a perfect stroke into the wall and strong push-off, Phelps finished strong against a top men’s field, a good indicator where he is at, which is much farther along than he was in last year’s Mesa meet.
“I am always hard on myself,” Phelps said while wrapping himself in a towel. “Being my first race back I think it was okay. There are probably some things to fix. I think it’s a good starting point. Bob (Bowman) and I are working a lot harder in training than we have in a long time. I’m looking forward to see more to come.”
Phelps joked about his first Mesa comeback meet after coming out of retirement.
“My turns were a lot better than last year,” Phelps said. “Last year I took my last stroke at the flags.
“Being back in the water is what I enjoy doing and it feels great to be back,” Phelps said. “It’s a different feeling. This is the first time I have been in a race since Pan Pacs. Being back in the water racing is something that I love, it’s something that I really do enjoy. It’s good to be back.”
In other championships finals:
Women’s 200-meter freestyle: A day after winning the 1500, Katie Ledecky held off Katinka Hosszu (1:57.51) and Allison Schmitt (1:57.86) to win in 1:56.79, sixth fastest time this year.
“I am excited about the 200 free, I am just going to continue to train and do the best I can with it,” Ledecky said. “I feel really good where I’m at. I put together two months of good training since my last meet. I am excited about swimming fast at worlds.”
Men’s 200-meter freestyle: On the last 50 meters off the turn, Conor Dwyer pulled ahead and hung on for the win in 1:48.29, outside the Top 10 fastest times, ahead of Ryan Lochte, second in 1:49.28.
“I am happy how it went coming off altitude camp,” Dwyer said. “I thought it was a good race. I didn’t see Ryan. I just tried to swim my own race and stay long.”
Women’s 100-meter breaststroke: Katie Meili finished ahead of Atkinson to win in 1:07.26. Breeja Larson was third in 1:08.60. It was just 1/10th off her best time in the morning in 1:07.16.
“It feels pretty good,” Meili said. “I’ve been putting in a lot of good work. It’s nice to put everything together and have everything click and swim fast.”
Men’s 100-meter breaststroke: Louisville’s Carlos Claverie of Venezuela topped a talented men’s field to win in 1:02.42.
“I am so glad to be here training in this country, it’s been great,” Valdes said.
100-meter butterfly: Kelsi Worrell of Louisville knocked off Claire Donahue to win in a best time 58.24. Donahue’s time was 59.19.
“I am having so much fun and I am healthy this year,” Worrell said. “I just give all the glory to God. I am trying to figure out how to transition my short course to long course. I am having a good time with it.”
Women’s 400-meter individual medley:
Hungarian Katinka Hosszu, after finishing second in the 200 freestyle, came back to win in 4:36.77, a Top 10 world time. Hosszu has been training with Swim Fort Lauderdale. Caitlin Leverenz was second in 4:40.29 and Vien Nguyen of St. Augustine was third in 4:42.60. Elizabeth Beisel, nursing a nagging groin injury, competed in the consolations and finished first in 4:46.75.
“This is a race I have been swimming for a really long time,” Hosszu said. “I still love it. For me it is always challenging. I haven’t gotten a best time for a long time. I feel I am going to get it this year. I really just love swimming. I love to race. The atmosphere for me is always exciting to get up and race.”
Men’s 400-meter individual medley: Tyler Clary held off Conor Dwyer in the last ten meters to win in 4:19.59. Dwyer was second in 4:20.25 and 16-year-old Sean Grieshop was third in 4:23.16.
“I felt Conor close by, he is really a great freestyler so I knew I needed a good gap there,” Clary said. “I only wanted to go as hard as I had to. I think there is a little more in the tank. You can’t fake your physical conditioning in this event. Coming off altitude I was happy to do a double like this today.”
The four-day meet and fourth stop on the Arena Pro Swim Series, capped at 600 swimmers, continues on Friday with a full schedule of prelims and finals.
The meet ends on Saturday. Top three finishers will win $1,000, $600 and $200.
Prelims are 9 a.m. and finals 6 p.m. MST. The meet will be live streamed at usaswimming.org.
Universal Sports Network will air live television coverage on Friday with Floridian Rowdy Gaines as color analyst.
200-meter freestyle: 1. Katie Ledecky, NCA 1:56.79, 2. Katinka Hosszu, HUN 1:57.51, 3. Allison Schmitt, NB 1:57.86; FLORIDA: 7. tie, Vien Nguyen, St. Augustine 2:01.80, 12. Katie Hoff, Hurricane Aquatics 2:02.38, 23. Elizabeth Beisel, Gator Swim Club 2:05.35, 30. Kira Toussaint, Swim Florida 2:07.39.
100-meter breaststroke: 1. Katie Meili, MAC 1:07.26, 2. Alia Atkinson, SOFLO 1:08.01, 3. Breeja Larson, Unattached 1:08.60; FLORIDA: 19. Lindsey Swartz, Pine Crest Swimming 1:13.62, 29. Lisa Blackburn, South Florida Aquatic Club 1:14.81, 31. Julia Schippert, University of Miami 1:15.39.
100-meter butterfly: 1. Kelsi Worrell, Louisville 58.24, 2. Claire Donahue, WKU 59.19, 3. Katie McLaughlin, Unattached 59.32; FLORIDA: 6. Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace, MAC 1:00.41, 14. Carolina Colorado, South Florida Aquatic Club 1:02.06, 15. Jessica Nava, Pine Crest Swimming 1:02.14, 32. Alia Atkinson, South Florida Aquatic Club 1:03.78, 35. Angela Algee, University of Miami 1:03.95, 39. Yee Ching Wong, Swim Florida 1:04.37.
400-meter individual medley: 1. Katinka Hosszu, Hungary 4:36.77, 2. Caitlin Leverenz, CAL 4:40.29, 3. Vien Nguyen, St. Augustine 4:42.60; FLORIDA: 9. Elizabeth Beisel, Gator Swim Club 4:46.75, 37. Cameron Davis, University of Miami 5:22.15.
4×100-meter freestyle relay: 1. University of Miami 4:04.64 (Heather Arseth, My Fridell, Angela Algee, Cameron Davis).
200-meter freestyle: 1. Conor Dwyer, CAL 1:48.29, 2. Ryan Lochte, MAC 1:49.28, 3. Tyler Clary, MAC 1:49.85; FLORIDA: 13. Marcelo Acosta, Azura 1:53.13, 21. Mateo De Angulo, Club Seminole 1:54.04, 22. Luis Rojas, Unattached Florida, 1:55.53, 24. Jesus Marin, Unattached Florida 1:54.31, 29. Juan Tolosa, Unattached Florida 1:55.80.
100-meter breaststroke: 1. Carlos Claverie, Louisville 1:02.42, 2. Azad Al-Barazi, TRO 1:02.44, 3. Mike Alexandrov, NYA 1:02.59; FLORIDA: 5. Jorge Murillo Valdes, SOFLO 1:03.08, 15. Luis Jasso, Unattached Florida 1:05.06, 16. Carlos Mahecha, Unattached Florida Gold Coast 1:04.32.
100-meter butterfly: 1. Michael Phelps, NB 52.38, 2. Ryan Lochte, MAC 53.11, 3. Tom Shields, CAL 53.18; FLORIDA: 13. Esnaider Reales, Unattached Florida Gold Coast 54.82, 14. Andres Felipe Montoya, Unattached Florida Gold Coast 54.88, 27. Allan Gutierrez, Unattached Florida 55.75, 31. Raul Garrastazu, Unattached Florida 56.24, 48. Edson Lima, Unattached Florida 57.25,
400-meter individual medley: 1. Tyler Clary, MAC 4:19.59, 2. Conor Dwyer, CAL 4:20.25, 3. Sean Grieshop, NTR 4:23.16; FLORIDA: None.
4×100-meter freestyle relay: 1. Flemish Swimming Federation 3:25.55, 2. Nitro Swimming 3:35.62.
Sharon Robb can be reached at email@example.com