Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte, Nathan Adrian and Katie Ledecky among Mesa Pro Series winners
Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte, Nathan Adrian and Katie Ledecky each won their signature races on Saturday, the final night of the Arena Pro Series stop in Mesa, Arizona. The Pro Series, which continue in Charlotte, North Carolina May 12-15, are tune-up meets leading up to the U.S.' Olympic trials, held June 26 to July 3.
Ledecky clocked eight minutes, 13.20 seconds to win the 800m freestyle, where she is the reigning Olympic champion, world champion and world record holder. Ledecky's time, while off her world record of 8:06.68, was just over 14 seconds ahead of Denmark's Lotte Friis, who took second. Ledecky's time Saturday was faster than what it took for her to break the world record -- the first time she did it back in 2013 -- by .66 seconds. NBC Olympics swimming analyst Rowdy Gaines asked Ledecky how difficult she finds it to essentially swim alone, so far ahead of the field.
"Not too bad," said Ledecky. "I get into a good rhythm. Sometimes, I imagine someone swimming right next to me and try to catch them."
Forty minutes later, Ledecky clocked 54.89 to place sixth in the 100m freestyle. Simone Manuel took first place with a 53.80, followed by Abby Weitzeil and Dana Vollmer in second and third, respectively.
Fans in Mesa were denied a Michael Phelps vs. Ryan Lochte matchup in the 200m individual medley, as Lochte scratched the event. Phelps threw down a dominant 1:57.90, the third fastest time in the world this year. Phelps and training partner Chase Kalisz, who placed second in 1:59.05, were the only two men in the field to dip under the two-minute mark.
"My legs weren't really there, but it's the fastest I've done all year, so I have to be happy with it," Phelps said. "Obviously I'd like to swim fast every time I get in the water."
Phelps next heads to a six-week training camp in Colorado Springs. He said "it'll be [his] last time going, without question." There's a plane on stand-by to fly Phelps back home from camp for when his fiance, Nicole Johnson, goes into labor with the birth of their first child, a baby boy.
Instead, Lochte focused on the 200m backstroke and 100m freestyle, contested 12 minutes apart.
In the 200m backstroke, Lochte captured first place with a time of 2:01.04. He wouldn't commit to saying the 200m backstroke is a race he'll swim at the Rio Olympics during his post-race interview.
The 100m freestyle was a different story for Lochte. Nathan Adrian, 2012 Olympic champion in the event, took a commanding lead and posted 48.00. That time tied France's Florent Manaudou for the fourth-fastest time in the world this year. Manaudou is the 2012 Olympic champion in the 50m freestyle.
Cristian Quintero, 2012 Olympian representing Venezuela, followed for second in 49.45 and Jimmy Feigen in 49.80. Lochte got to the wall last in 50.69.
World 400m IM silver medalist Maya DiRado won the 200m IM in 2:11.09 and, 15 minutes later, won the 200m backstroke in 2:08.61. Both events included international Olympians Kirsty Coventry and Katinka Hosszu in the field.
Jordan Wilimovsky, already qualified for the 2016 Rio Olympics in the open water marathon event, clocked 14:53.12 to take the title in the 1500m freestyle. His time is the fifth-fastest time in the year for 2016.
After finishing fifth in her only swim Friday night, the 100m backstroke, Missy Franklin tweeted that she would not be racing on the final night in Mesa.
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