Jensen Wins 400 Free, and Vandenberg and Ingram Set JEI Meet Records

July 13, 2007


In a race featuring two American record holders, USC graduate Larsen Jensen won his second event at the Janet Evans Invitational in the men's 400-meter freestyle on Friday. Also, Kim Vandenberg, a silver medallist for the United States at the 2007 World Championships, and Melissa Ingram of New Zealand set meet records, and Olympian Natalie Coughlin won the women's 400-meter freestyle, an unorthodox event for her, during the second day of competition at the USC McDonald's Swim Stadium.

Vandenberg's meet record came in the women's 200-meter butterfly, and Ingram broke a 10-year-old meet record in the women's 200-meter backstroke.

Other winners on Friday were U.S. Olympian Dana Vollmer in the women's 100-meter freestyle, South African Olympian Ryk Neethling in the men's 100-meter freestyle, British Olympian Todd Cooper in the men's 200-meter butterfly, and Stanford University's Hongzhe Sun in the men's 200-meter backstroke.

Jensen, who won Thursday's men's 800-meter freestyle in meet-record time, captured the men's 400-meter freestyle for the second year in a row. The race also featured the American record holder in the event and former USC swimmer Klete Keller, but he came home in fifth place. Jensen was in midfield early in the race and passed leader Robbie Renwick of Scotland with 100 meters left.

'It was a tough, tough race,' Jensen said. 'It came down to the last 50 [meters], and I gutted it out. I'm just happy I came out on top.'

Renwick finished second in 3:50.72, and fellow Scottish swimmer Andrew Hunter was third in 3:54.10.

After the race Jensen had a bloody nose and said, 'Maybe I pushed myself so hard I started bleeding.'

California Aquatics' Coughlin, a winner of five medals - including two gold - at both the 2004 Olympics and the 2007 World Championships, showed her swimming versatility by winning the women's 400-meter freestyle when most of her competitive success has been in sprint races. Coughlin said she last swam the 400-meter freestyle competitively 'as a joke a couple years ago.' She won in 4:10.99, in what she said was a personal best in the event by four seconds. Ashley Chandler of California Aquatics was second in 4:11.97, and Helen Norfolk of New Zealand finished third in 4:13.35.

'I wanted to have a different summer than normal,' Coughlin said. 'Here I wanted to do events I never swim. The next two days I have breaststroke, which I have no clue. [The 400-meter freestyle] feels different. It hurts.'

Vandenberg, a UCLA graduate representing Team Bruin, was second in the 200-meter butterfly at the 2007 World Championships in Melbourne to Australian world record holder Jessica Schipper. On Friday, she led from the start and gradually pulled away to win in 2:08.02, which topped Dana Kirk's previous meet record of 2:08.40 set in 2004. Elaine Breeden of Stanford Swimming was second in 2:09.68 with Tanya Krisman of North Coast Aquatics was third in 2:12.56.

Vandenberg will compete next at the U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis beginning at the end of the month and then at the International Swim Meet in Chiba, Japan, in August.

'I think I need more international experience, and so it's going to good to be able to travel and get used to racing when I'm out of my comfort zone. I definitely have the motivation, and I'm getting more and more excited as each meet comes up,' Vandenberg said.

Ingram, who is training in the United States with other members of the New Zealand national team in preparation for August's World University Games in Bangkok, Thailand, won the women's 200-meter backstroke in 2:12.00 to break the meet record of 2:12.32 set in 1997 by Tomoko Hagewara. Ingram, a semifinalist in the event at the World Championships in March, set a fast pace and was more than a second in front of her nearest rival at the halfway stage before pulling away to win by 4.17 seconds. Caitlin Iversen of Tucson Ford Dealers Aquatics finished second in 2:16.71, and Jenny Forster of Tucson Ford Dealers Aquatics took third in 2:17.94.

'I'm still in hard training at the moment, and so I wasn't expecting a personal-best time. So I was really excited,' Ingram said. 'This is my third meet in America so far. We came over here to get some racing. It's winter at home. So we get some sun and have some fun.'

In the women's 100-meter freestyle, Olympian Dana Vollmer of California Aquatics won in 55.50 seconds. Vollmer, a gold medallist for the United States in the 800-meter freestyle relay in 2004, was second at the turn and used a strong finish to beat Lacey Nymeyer of Tucson Ford Dealers Aquatics, who was second in 55.66 seconds, and Emily Silver of California, third in 55.72 seconds. Allison Wagner, a U.S. silver medallist at the 1996 Olympics who is attempting a comeback at age 29, was sixth in 56.58 seconds.

'My previous best time was a 55.8 [seconds], and then I went 54.9 at [the 2007 World Championships]. It's right there for me to be that fast in season with hard training and hard weight,' Vollmer said.

The men's 100-meter freestyle went to Ryk Neethling of Tucson Ford Dealers Aquatics, a member of South Africa's gold-medal 400-meter freestyle relay team at the 2004 Olympics, in a time of 49.50 seconds.

'I want to build momentum to the Olympics,' Neethling said. 'I'm 29 years old, and my body doesn't react like a 19-year-old.'

Finishing second was Nick Brunelli of Sun Devil Aquatics in 49.59 seconds, and Adam Ritter of Tucson Ford Dealers Aquatics took third in 50.11 seconds. Neethling's South African relay teammate Roland Schoeman was fourth.

In the men's 200-meter butterfly, Todd Cooper, the Scottish record holder in the event, beat former USC swimmer Tamas Kerekjarto. Kerekjarto, a Hungarian Olympian, had won the event at the Janet Evans Invitational the previous two years. Cooper pulled away in the final 50 meters to win in 2:00.04 over Kerekjarto's 2:01.25. Israel Duran of Mexico finished third in 2:02.38.

'I'm not quite sure where I am with my physiology, and so it was good to race hard,' said Cooper, a student at the University of Stirling in Scotland. 'This is a big learning curve for me, and I'll be able to take confidence from that.'In the closest race of the day, Hongzhe Sun of Stanford Swimming, edged British Olympian Simon Burnett of Tucson Ford Dealers Aquatics by .01 seconds to win the men's 200-meter backstroke in 2:01.39. Sun won the event for the second year in a row, this time closing from .68 seconds back in the final 50 meters. Timothy Liebhold of Wisconsin Aquatics was third in 2:03.29.

'No, I didn't [know I won], not until I looked up and saw my time. We definitely had a good race,' said Sun, who is training for the World University Games.

The Janet Evans Invitational continues on Saturday with the 200-meter freestyle, the 200-meter breaststroke, the 50-meter freestyle, the 400-meter individual medley, and the 800-meter freestyle relay. Preliminaries will begin at 9 a.m. with the finals at 5 p.m.

Tickets are $3 for the preliminaries and $5 for the finals.


Women's 100m Free - 1. Dana Vollmer (California Aquatics) :55.50; 2. Lacey Nymeyer (Ford) :55.66; 3. Emily Silver (California Aquatics) :55.72

Men's 100m Free - 1. Ryk Neethling (Ford) :49.50; 2. Nick Brunelli (Sun Devil Aquatics) :49.59; 3. Adam Ritter (Ford) :50.11

Women's 200m Butterfly - 1. Kim Vandenberg (Team Bruin) 2:08.02; 2. Elaine Breeden (Stanford Swimming) 2:09.68; Tanya Krisman (North Coast Aquatics) 2:12.56

Men's 200m Butterfly - 1. Todd Cooper (Stirling Swim) 2:00.04; 2. Tamas Kerekjarto (Trojan Swim Club) 2:01.25; 3. Israel Duran (Mexico) 2:02.38

Women's 200m Backstroke - 1. Melissa Ingram (New Zealand) 2:12.00; 2. Caitlin Iversen (Ford) 2:16.71; 3. Jenny Forster (Ford) 2:17.94

Men's 200m Backstroke - 1. Hongzhe Sun (Stanford Swimming) 2:01.39; 2. Simon Burnett (Ford) 2:01.40; 3. Timothy Liebhold (Wisconsin Aquatics) 2:03.29

Women's 400m Free - 1. Natalie Coughlin (California Aquatics) 4:10.99; 2. Ashley Chandler (California Aquatics) 4:11.97; 3. Helen Norfolk (New Zealand) 4:13.35

Men's 400m Free - 1. Larsen Jensen (Trojan Swim Club) 3:50.53; 2. Robbie Renwick (City of Aberdeen) 3:50.72; 3. Andrew Hunter (Stirling Swim) 3:54.10

Women's 400m Free Relay - 1. Ford (A) 3:48.01; 2. Ford (B) 3:50.33; 3. Trojan Swim Club (A) 3:52.14

Men's 400m Free Relay - 1. Ford (A) 3:20.06; 2. Sun Devil Aquatics (A) 3:24.96; 3. Trojan Swim Club (A) 3:28.61

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