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Strength From Schmitt, Soni, Vollmer & Co

May 11, 2012  - Craig Lord

Allison Schmitt, Dana Vollmer, Rebecca Soni and Jessica Hardy all went to bed winners after the second day of the Charlotte UltraSwim Grand Prix, a warm-up meet on the way to US Olympic trials in late June. Some have started to look sharper as they treat their race skills and confirm where they're at in preparations reflected on the clock.

Schmitt clocked a strong 1:57.38, meet record, in the 200m freestyle (faster than the winning time at German Olympic trials) in a race with Vollmer and Katie Hoff, who rounded up the top three with respective times of 1:58.62 and 1:58.85.

Vollmer, world champion, was back in later for her own triumph and meet record, 57.21, in the 100m butterfly. Closest to her was training partner in California Natalie Coughlin on 58.82, 0.02sec up on Claire Donahue.

Soni continued to assert her authority on breaststroke, a 1:05.85 effort a league ahead of the rest, Trojan teammate Jessica Hardy second on 1:07.52, with Micah Lawrence on 1:08.06 for third. Hardy and Soni were not done for the day: they finished one-two in 30.82 to 30.86 in the dash later in the session, Hardy getting the touch this time.

Also preparing in California with Vollmer and Coughlin, Caitlin Leverenz set a meet record of 4:38.35 to win the 400m medley ahead of former world record holder and champion Hoff, a 200m free behind her, on 4:40.82, and reigning world champion Elizabeth Beisel, third in 4:41.22.

Ricky Berens upset the apple cart with a win over Olympic champion Michael Phelps in front of a home Charlotte crowd. Though Phelps hit back with a strong second 100m, he could not catch the speed of Berens' 1:47.32, taking silver in 1:48.01, with Charlie Houchin third in 1:49.03.

"I felt a lot better than I did this morning," said Phelps.  "Ricky is racing really well right now. This was a great win for him in his hometown." Gracious from a man whose own preparations, like those of most at the meet, dictate he cannot be even close to where he will be come the hour.

Back in 6th was Ryan Lochte, world champion, on 1:49.70. Not too many days before the meet, I watched Lochte train 15k in a day at the Gators pool in Florida. One set included 15 x 200m backstroke. The rest period was not long, Lochte not that far over 2mins on most swims, his last 200m a broken effort: 1:52. In the midst of it all he was hard at it on land with his Gator teammates. Bank on it: he'll be ready when he needs to be. More on Lochte in the pre-Olympics edition of the SwimNews Magazine.

Same for many others, including Lochte's fellow Gator Beisel (just to watch her train is exhausting) and Peter Vanderkaay, distance-group leader at coach Gregg Troy's Gainesville programme, who took the men's long medley in 4:16.22 ahead of Olympic 1500m free champion and Oussama Mellouli (TUN) and his Trojan teammate Tyler Harris, on 4:18.81 and 4:21.27 respectively.

In the men’s 100m breast, Eric Shanteau, Mark Gangloff and Brendan Hansen battled it out, Shanteau stopping the clock at 1:00.46 for a dominant win, Gangloff on 1:01.41, Hansen on 1:01.51. Davis Tarwater took the 100m butterfly in 52.87 ahead of Tyler McGill, 52.98, and Tim Phillips, 53.28.

In the dash events, Jenny Connolly set a meet record of 27.99 on backstroke 0.01sec ahead of Rachel Bootsma; Eugene Godsoe clocked 25.24 in the men's back; and Ireland's Barry Murphy took the breaststroke in 27.81 ahead of Gangloff's second silver of the session, on 27.89.