Adrian tops star-studded field on first night of Nationals


Nathan Adrian won the 100m free at 2014 Nationals. (640 Mobile)IRVINE, Calif. – Olympic gold medalist Nathan Adrian came out on top of the marquee event Wednesday at the Phillips 66 National Championships, winning the men’s 100m freestyle with a time of 48.31. The final of that event featured seven Olympic medalists, including Adrian, Ryan Lochte, Anthony Ervin, Matt Grevers, Jimmy Feigen, Conor Dwyer and Michael Phelps.

With his win, Adrian earned a spot on the U.S. Pan Pacific Championships team, which will compete Aug. 21-25 in Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia. Also earning a spot on the team by virtue of their finishes in the 100m free were Lochte, Feigen and Dwyer. 

Adrian, representing Cal Aquatics, jumped out to a lead at the start of the race, and distanced himself from the pack as he headed down the final 25 meters. Creeping up on him from the outside was Ryan Lochte of SwimMac Carolina, who finished second from lane 8 in 48.96. Feigen, of the New York Athletic Club, and Dwyer, of North Baltimore Aquatic Club, were third and fourth in 49.98 and 49.06.

“Not only were there seven Olympians (in that race), but all seven have medaled individually either at the Olympics or World Champs,” Adrian said. “With a field like that, it’s an honor to get my hand on the wall first.”

Adrian is currently ranked third in the world this year in the 100 with a time of 48.08, which he swam at a Mare Nostrum meet in Barcelona. His time tonight tied for the sixth-fastest time in the world.

“It wasn’t great, but it’s about qualifying (for Pan Pacs),” Adrian said. 

The women’s 100m free saw almost as much firepower as the men’s, as five of the eight finalists were Olympic medalists. Among them were American record holder Amanda Weir, Lia Neal, Missy Franklin, Shannon Vreeland and Natalie Coughlin.

U.S. National Teamer Simone Manuel of First Colony Swim Team answered the challenge, blasting out to a lead in the first 50 meters. Franklin, representing Cal Aquatics, answered at the turn, and the two went stroke-for-stroke down the homestretch. 

At the wall, it was Franklin first, her time of 53.43 tying her meet record from last year. Manuel was second in in 53.66, followed by Vreeland of Athens Bulldog Swim Club in 54.14 and Abbey Weitzel of Canyons Aquatic Club in 54.38. Like the men, the top four swimmers in the women’s 100m free qualified for the Pan Pacs team.

“I was really surprised by my time,” Franklin said. “One-hundred percent, I have Simone (Manuel) to thank for that. She goes out like a bullet. To have her there pushing me that last lap makes me really dig deep. I knew I was going to have to come home fast.”

Olympic gold medalist and world record-holder Katie Ledecky of Nation’s Capital Swim Club cruised to a win in the women’s 800m free, leading from start to finish and touching more than six seconds ahead of her next closest competitor in 8:18.47.

Ledecky was ahead of the world record pace she set on June 22 of this year through the 400-meter mark, before dropping off that tempo. Her first-place finish secured her a spot on the Pan Pacific Championships team.

“My goal coming in was really just to make the Pan Pacs team,” Ledecky said. “Anything else would have been great, too, but I’m happy with that.”

Cierra Runge and Becca Mann, both of North Baltimore Aquatic Club, finished second and third, respectively, in 8:24.69 and 8:26.64. Only Ledecky earned the automatic qualification for Pan Pacs in this event, but the second-, third- and fourth-place finishers may be added to the roster later in the week, pending swimmers qualifying in multiple events.

In other events, Cammile Adams of SwimMac Carolina won the women’s 200m butterfly in 2:07.12, followed by Katie McLaughlin of Mission Viejo Nadadores in 2:08.74 and Hali Flickinger of Athens Bulldog Swim Club in 2:08.77. Tom Shields of Cal Aquatics took the men’s 200m fly with the third-fastest time in the world this year in 1:55.09. Olympic gold medalist Tyler Clary of SwimMac Carolina was second in 1:56.00, while Chase Kalisz of North Baltimore was third in 1:56.50.

In the men’s 1500m free, Olympian Connor Jaeger of Club Wolverine turned in the fourth-fastest time in the world this year in 14:51.06. Right behind him were Michael McBroom of The Woodlands Swim Team in 14:56.17, and Jordan Wilimovsky of Team Santa Monica in 14:56.34.

Only the first-place finishers in each of these events will be added to the Pan Pacific Championships team, but the second-, third- and fourth-place finishers may be added later in the week, pending swimmers qualifying in multiple events.

The 2014 Pan Pacific Championship team is just one of five international teams being selected this week in Irvine. Also at stake are spots on the 2014 Junior Pan Pacific Championships team, the 2015 World Championships Team, the 2015 World University Games Team and 2015 Pan American Games team. Those rosters will be released at a later date.

The Phillips 66 National Championships continues Thursday with prelims and finals of the men’s and women’s 200m freestyle, 200m breaststroke, 200m backstroke and men’s 50m butterfly. For more information about the meet, including live webcast, news updates and results, go to usaswimming.org.