Olympic Gold Medalists Shine at the Arena Grand Prix at Mesa
Olympic gold medalists Missy Franklin (Centennial, Colo.), Nathan Adrian (Bremerton, Wash.) and Katie Ledecky (Bethesda, Md.) were victorious Thursday on the opening night of competition of the Arena Grand Prix at Mesa.
Franklin and Adrian won the women’s and men’s 100m free, respectively, while Ledecky earned the win in the women’s 400m free at the Skyline Aquatic Center.
Franklin opened the night with a win in the session’s showcase event, touching in 54.27 to take the 100m free. She outdistanced Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu, who was second in 54.60, and fellow Olympic gold medalist Natalie Coughlin (Vallejo, Calif.), who took third in 54.61.
“I knew it was going to be a really hard race tonight,” Franklin said. “I’m thrilled with my time and am really happy where I am right now.” Franklin will swim three events Friday.
Adrian followed with a convincing win in the men’s 100m free, finishing in 48.42 to best runner-up Ricky Berens (Charlotte, N.C.), who was second in 49.06, and South Africa’s Darian Townsend, who grabbed third in 49.73.
Ledecky, the London gold medalist at 800 meters, cruised to a six-second victory in the 400m free, winning in 4:05.21. Hosszu was second in 4:11.72, and Chloe Sutton (Mission Viejo, Calif.) grabbed third in 4:12.00.
Mesa native and 2012 Olympian Breeja Larson fed off her hometown crowd to win the women’s 200m breast in 2:28.03. Caitlin Leverenz (Tucson, Ariz.) was second in 2:29.13, with Katy Freeman (Concord, Calif.) taking third in 2:29.31.
B.J. Johnson (Seattle, Wash.) followed with a victory in the men’s 200m breast with a time of 2:14.51. Mike Alexandrov (Champaign, Ill.) was second in 2:14.56, with Clark Burckle (Louisville, Ky.) finishing third in 2:15.91.
Following Ledecky’s strong swim, Olympian Matt McLean (Sterling, Va.) won the men’s 400m free in 3:51.95. Michael Klueh (Evansville, Ind.) claimed the runner-up finish in 3:52.20, followed by Denmark’s Anders Nielsen, who was third in 3:54.09.
The night’s individual finals closed with the 100m fly, won by Olympian Claire Donahue (Lenoir City, Tenn.) and Poland’s Marcin Tarczynski, respectively.
Donahue took the women’s 100m fly in 59.58, followed by Hosszu, who finished in 59.80 for her third second-place finish of the night, and Olympian Dana Vollmer (Granbury, Texas), who was third in 59.99.
Tarczynski took the men’s 100m fly in 52.83. Tom Shields (Huntington Beach, Calif.) was second in 52.99, while Eugene Godsoe (Greensboro, N.C.) placed third in 53.28.
For highlights and meet results, please visit the Arena Grand Prix at Mesa landing page.
The next stop in the 2012-2013 Arena Grand Prix Series is the May 9-12 Arena Grand Prix at Charlotte, presented by UltraSwim. The Series will conclude June 2, 2013, in Santa Clara, Calif. As part of USA Swimming’s new, eight-year partnership with Arena, the Arena Grand Prix Series will offer swimmers the opportunity to take home prize money for top finishes in all individual Olympic-distance events for each meet in the Series. An overall leaderboard for the Series can be found online here.
The Arena Grand Prix Series serves as an opportunity for swimmers to race against some of the best competition in the country as they continue their preparation for the 2013 Phillips 66 National Championships in Indianapolis, Ind., World University Games in Kazan, Russia, and the FINA World Championships in Barcelona, Spain.