By Mike Watkins//Contributor | Saturday, May 18, 2019
Fresh from a week of competition across the globe in Hungary, Michael Andrew topped the field in two individual events – the 50 breaststroke and 50 butterfly – as well as the 200 mixed medley relay Saturday night at the TYR Pro Swim Series in Bloomington.
Joining Andrew at the top of the podium were Olympic and World Champions Katie Ledecky and Lilly King, as well as 2016 Olympian Jay Litherland and 2018 Pan Pacific Championships bronze medalist Regan Smith, who all won their second events of the meet.
Blake Pieroni, Sarah Gibson, Johannes Calloni and Ella Eastin each won their first events of the weekend on a very fast night that witnessed top 10 times in the world this year in almost every event.
Ledecky started things off with the fourth-fastest time of the year in winning the 200 freestyle, edging former Stanford teammate Simone Manuel and Madisyn Cox. Once again, Ledecky led from start to finish, winning in 1:55.80 – just .02 off the time she swam in Knoxville earlier this year.
“I was happy with my 200,” Ledecky said. “It was kind of right on my best for the season. It was a good step, felt good, took some things away that I can take back to training over the next month and a half.”
Following Pieroni’s win in the 200 freestyle – leading an Indiana post-grad sweep that included Zane Grothe and Zach Apple with an in-season best time of 1:47.25 – King took to the pool to win the 50 breaststroke in 30.03 – the fastest time in the world this year. Close behind was King’s training partner Annie Lazor and Olivia Calegen.
In a span of about 15 minutes, Andrew won the 50 breast in 27.21 over Nic Fink and Ian Finnerty, and then added a victory in the 50 fly in 23.40. He edged Guatemala’s Luis Martinez and Vini Lanza.
“Training and almost every meet we go to, I’m doing two or three events,” Andrew said. “And so, the more I do it, the more my body gets used to it, and I think the more I mentally accept this is what I do. It’s always nice to swim one race in a session, and I think you can see the difference in the swims. But for this, it was a fun double and to end it with the relay, always a good time.”
In between those wins, Sarah Gibson took top honors in the 50 fly with a time of 26.52, besting 200 butterfly winner Katie Drabot and Aly Tetzloff.
Smith, who won the 50 backstroke Friday evening, won the 200 back in a scorching mid-season time of 2:06.47 – the third fastest of 2019. Fellow teenager Isabelle Stadden finished second followed closely by Asia Seidt.
“I think it (the 50 fly earlier in the evening) really bode well for my 200 back, to get my heart rate up and get ready to go before the big 200,” Smith said “So, I definitely felt really ready to go before the 200. The 200 itself felt really smooth. I was really happy with it. It felt way better than this morning. I was a little nervous after this morning. It hurt pretty bad. But tonight was a different story. It felt awesome. I didn’t expect that time. I really didn’t know exactly what to expect. I was just hoping to swim a little bit better than I did this morning.”
In the final two individual events of the night, Eastin and Litherland won with swims they both led from start to finish. Eastin’s time of 4:37.18 finished as the fourth-fastest of the year. Cox and Makayla Stewart finished second and third, respectively.
“(I) was super pleased with how my 400 IM went,” Eastin said. “It’s my best time that I’ve ever swam legally, which is a big deal for me in that race. I’ve had quite a few challenges just over the past few years with different things happening, and I was really focused on getting back to my best. I guess just being in the middle of the season, I’m really pleased with how that went.”
Litherland, who won the 200 fly Friday evening, backed up that swim with a convincing victory in the 400 individual medley in 4:14.42 – a time that just missed being among the top 10 times of 2019. Charlie Swanson and Sam Stewart rounded out the top three spots, respectively.
Andrew and King joined forces along with Ian Finnerty and Margo Geer to cap the evening’s competition with a win in the 200 mixed medley relay. The foursome went 1:43.35 to win the event, which will be included in next year’s Olympics for the first time.
Sunday’s final day of competition is action-packed with the 100 backstroke, 200 breaststroke, 100 butterfly, 200 individual medley, 50 freestyle and 800 freestyle.
Be sure to catch prelims live on usaswimming.org beginning at 9 a.m. ET with all finals also on usaswimming.org at 6 p.m. ET.