IRVINE, Calif. – Olympians Katie Ledecky and Missy Franklin both won their second events of the meet Thursday at the Phillips 66 National Championships.
First, Ledecky, of Nation’s Capital Swim Club, bested Franklin in the finals of the women’s 200m freestyle, 1:55.16 to 1:56.40. Then, about an hour and 15 minutes later, Franklin, representing California Aquatics, topped the rest of the field by more than two seconds in the women’s 200m back, turning in a time of 2:08.38.
It was the second win for both swimmers in as many days, with Franklin taking the 100m free on the first night of competition, and Ledecky the 800m free.
Counting her performance Thursday, Franklin has qualified to represent the U.S. at the Pan Pacific Championships, to be held Aug. 21-25 in Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia, in five events – the 100m free, 200m free, 200m back, 400m free relay and 800m free relay. Ledecky has qualified in three events – the 200m free, 800m free and 800m free relay.
Women’s 200m Free
Coming into this meet, the women’s 200m freestyle was one of the most-anticipated events on the schedule, featuring two of the biggest names in American swimming right now in Franklin and Ledecky.
Simone Manuel, the runner-up behind Franklin in last night’s 100m free, was out first, just a couple hundredths of a second ahead of Franklin at the first 50. As the field reached the halfway point, it was Franklin and Ledecky out in front, with Franklin holding a slight, tenth-of-a-second lead.
Ledecky began to pull away in the third length, and built her lead as she headed for the final wall, touching by about a body-length ahead of Franklin. Leah Smith of Cavalier Swimming was third in 1:57.57, followed by Shannon Vreeland of Athens Bulldog Swim Club in 1:57.73.
Like Franklin, Vreeland already qualified for the Pan Pacs team by virtue of her third-place finish in the 100m free. Smith earned her spot on the team with her performance tonight.
“It was a tough race,” Ledecky said. “I just enjoyed being part of that final. I didn’t know what the tactics would really be. I just wanted to put in a good race all around.
“I definitely improved my speed over the past couple months. I just knew it was going to be a tough race, and I relish the opportunity to put up a good time.”
Both Ledecky and Franklin were complimentary of each other’s efforts.
“She’s a great person – really positive,” Ledecky said. “She makes everyone better, and I’m so happy to be on the team with her.”
“Being able to race her in the 200 is so awesome,” Franklin said. “She makes me better, and I’m so grateful for that.”
Women’s 200m Back
With her closest competitor and fellow Olympian Elizabeth Beisel slipping at the start of the women’s 200m backstroke, Franklin, the world record-holder in this event, was in control of the race from start to finish and cruised to the win. Kathleen Baker of SwimMac Carolina was second in 2:10.42, and Lisa Bratton of Tri-City Channel Cats was third in 2:11.57.
“I saw on the first 50 (Beisel) was far behind, and that’s not like her, so I knew she slipped on the start and my heart just broke for her,” Franklin said. “It was a surprising top three, but it was a really great heat, and exciting to be a part of racing with all the new talent coming up.
“The thing I take away most from tonight is confidence. Just to be able to do something like that – four 200s in one day. Instead of swimming in a place of being afraid, I’m swimming in a place of confidence.”
Men’s 200m Free
In other races, Matt McLean took advantage of a strong finish to edge North Baltimore Aquatic Club teammate and fellow 2012 Olympian Conor Dywer in the men’s 200m free, 1:46.93 to 1:47.35. Reed Malone, unattached, and Michael Weiss of Wisconsin Aquatics finished third and fourth in 1:47.41 and 1:47.87. Dwyer qualified for the Pan Pacs Team with a fourth-place finish in the 100m free Wednesday. The rest of the top four qualified with their performances tonight.
Women’s 200m Breaststroke
Olympian Micah Lawrence of SwimMac Carolina also overwhelmed the field in the final 50 meters to win the women’s 200m breaststroke in 2:23.05. Olympian Breeja Larson of Aggie Swim Club, who led through the first 175 meters or so, was second in 2:24.16, followed by Melanie Margalis of Saint Petersburg in 2:25.27.
“I just stuck to the plan,” Lawrence said. “That’s all it was. The first 150 meters was harder than it should have been, but that’s the name of the game. You’ve got to race.”
Men’s 200m Breaststroke
After setting the U.S. Open and meet record in the men’s 200m breaststroke in this morning’s prelims with a time of 2:07.86, Kevin Cordes of Tucson Ford got the job done in tonight’s finals, touching first in 2:09.48. Finishing 14-hundredths of a second behind him was Nicolas Fink of Athens Bulldog Swim Club in 2:09.62. Josh Prenot of California Aquatics was third in 2:10.43.
“I’m happy I made the team,” Cordes said. “I did what I had to do and finished it tonight.”
Men’s 200m Backstroke
Olympian Tyler Clary of SwimMac Carolina surged in the final 50m meters to win the men’s 200m back, turning in a time of 1:57.43. Ryan Murphy of Cal Aquatics was second in 1:55.99, followed by Olympian Ryan Lochte of SwimMac Carolina, who led for three-quarters of the race, in 1:56.47.
With his win, Clary officially qualified for the Pan Pacs team. He also finished second in the 200m fly on Wednesday. Lochte has already qualified for the team in the 100m free.
Women’s and Men’s 50m Butterfly
In the final two races of the evening, Kendyl Stewart took the top spot in the women’s 50m fly in 25.99, with Olympian Claire Donahue and Kelsi Worrell taking second and third in 26.11 and 26.35. Olympian Matt Grevers of Tucson Ford won the 50m butterfly in 23.50, followed by Tim Phillips of SwimMac Carolina in 23.58 and Connor Black of Stanford Swimming in 23.64.
The first-place finisher in each of tonight’s 200-meter events automatically qualified for the U.S. Pan Pacific Championships Team. The second, third and fourth-place finishers may be added to the roster later in the week, pending swimmers qualifying in multiple events. The first-place finishers in the 50m fly qualify for the 2015 U.S. World Championships team.
The Phillips 66 National Championships continue Friday with prelims and finals of the men’s and women’s 400m IM, 100m butterfly, 50m breaststroke and 50m backstroke. For more information about the meet, including the live webcast, complete results and news updates, go to www.usaswimming.org.