Lezak Wins Rematch of 50-Meter Freestyle Olympians

July 15, 2006


Jason Lezak defeated a talented field in the men's 50-meter freestyle, Natalie Coughlin swam the fastest time by an American this year in winning the women's 200-meter freestyle, and Adrienne Binder captured her third race of the meet in the women's 400-meter individual medley to highlight Saturday's third day of competition at the 13th annual Janet Evans Invitational at the USC McDonald's Swim Stadium.

While Lezak, Coughlin and Binder swam strong tune-ups ahead of next month's USA Swimming National Championships in Irvine, former USC swimmer Tamas Kerekjarto captured the men's 400-meter individual medley, his second win of the meet, in preparation for the European Championships later this month in his native Hungary.

The field for the men's 50-meter freestyle featured four finalists from the 2004 Olympics, including American gold medallist Gary Hall, Jr., and South African bronze medallist Roland Schoeman. Yet it was Lezak, the fifth-place finisher at the Olympics, who won Saturday's race in 22.51 seconds, the second-fastest time by an American this year. Sun Devil Aquatics' Nick Brunelli was second in 22.53 seconds, and Salim Iles of Algeria, who finished eighth in the Olympics, took third in 22.57 seconds. Former USC swimmer Gabe Woodward was next in fourth, followed by Schoeman in fifth and Hall in sixth.

'It's probably the strongest field besides maybe an Olympic field,' said Irvine Novaquatics' Lezak, who also won Friday's men's 100-meter freestyle at the Janet Evans Invitational. 'It's not all that often you can get a group of that many guys and put them together and have a field like that.'

California Aquatics' Coughlin, who won Friday's women's 100-meter freestyle, stopped the clock in 1:58.20 in winning Saturday's 200-meter freestyle. The five-time medallist at the 2004 Olympics swam .04 seconds faster that American Katie Hoff did in June and is now the seventh-fastest swimmer in the event in the world this year. She was never challenged, leading from the start and pulling clear to beat Cal teammate Erin Reilly's 2:00.46. Tucson Ford Dealers Aquatics' Lacey Nymeyer took third in 2:01.58.

'That's where I like to be - out in front, and people have to try and catch me, and so that was a good way to take charge of the race,' Coughlin said. 'This is a bit different because it's the more strategic than my other 100 [meter] events. The 200 is still a sprint, but it's difficult to truly sprint for two minutes. So it's all about conservation of energy and speed. It's very unique.'

Coughlin will attempt to win her third event at the Janet Evans Invitational in Sunday's 100-meter backstroke, an event in which she holds the world record.

Santa Barbara Swim Club's Binder won her third race in the 400-meter individual medley by making her move to the lead during the breaststroke leg and pulling clear in the freestyle to win by more than four seconds in 4:47.20.

'I've never come to a swim meet and swept all three events. So it's a first and adds to the confidence I have going into nationals - all good things,' Binder said. 'When you put it all together, this was one of my best meets. It definitely comes at good time. It's my last meet before nationals, and I'm really excited.'

Eastern Express' Meghan Leddy closed in the last 50 meters to get up for second place in 4:51.46, and North Coast Aquatics' Jessie Schmitt finished third in 4:51.98. While Binder stars as a senior at Auburn, both Leddy and Schmitt, 15-year-old high school students, have promising college careers ahead of them.

In the men's 400-meter individual medley, Kerekjarto, the winner in the 200﷓meter butterfly on Friday, grabbed the early lead during the butterfly portion of the medley. Fullerton Aquatics' Tyler Clary took over briefly during the backstroke leg, but Kerekjarto regained the advantage in the breaststroke and held on in the freestyle to win in 4:24.39. Ziqiang Li of the Chinese national team was second in 4:26.89 with Clary finishing third in 4:27.19.

Kerekjarto will compete next at the European Championships that begin in Budapest on July 26.

'It gives me a lot of confidence having this meet two weeks before and being in a shape like this,' said Kerekjarto, who will go for his third Janet Evans Invitational victory in the 200-meter individual medley on Sunday.

University of Arizona junior Nymeyer, who was third in the women's 200-meter freestyle, came back two races later to win the women's 50-meter freestyle in 25.60 seconds over Wildcat teammate Courtney Cashion, who was second in 25.75 seconds. Yanwei Xu of the Chinese national team took third in 25.84 seconds.

'It's kind of rough having them on the same day, but it's good training and great competition,' Nymeyer said about Saturday's two races. 'We were kind of fine-tuning things going into nationals, and I feel pretty comfortable.'

In one of the meet's closest finishes, John Criste of Irvine Novaquatics was ahead by 1.41 seconds with 50 meters to go in the men's 200-meter breaststroke but ended up winning the race by just .03 seconds in a final time of 2:20.37. Tucson Ford Dealers Aquatics' Ivan Barnes was in sixth place with 50 meters left but made up almost three seconds in the final leg to dead-head for second with Stanford Swimming's Chris Ash. Barnes and Ash finished in identical 2:20.40.

'No matter how hard it hurt, I had to keep going,' said Criste, a 17-year-old senior at Mission Viejo High School. 'A lot of it was mental for me. It was a lesson learned. I'm happy with my finish. I got to take it and run.'

The women's 200-meter breaststroke went to 2004 US Olympic silver medallist Tara Kirk in 2:28.67. Qun Wang, a 15-year-old member of the Chinese national team who led slightly with 50 meters left, finished second in 2:29.01. Irvine Aquazot's Kristen Caverly took third in 2:30.23.

'I was happy to win. I didn't see the Chinese girl over on the side, and so I turned and I saw her, and I was like, `Whoa,'' Kirk said about her close race with Wang. 'I know I'm going to face her in the future.'

The men's 200-meter freestyle was won by Southeastern Swim Club's Jayme Cramer, who closed in the final half of the race to win in 1:49.87. Cramer, the NCAA champion in the event at Stanford in 2004, beat Nashville Aquatic Club's Shaun Phillips, who was second in 1:50.37, and Benjamin Stasiulis of the French national team was third in 1:51.41 after leading in the early stages of the race.

'That was my goal of this race - just to focus on the second 100,' Cramer said.

The Janet Evans Invitational will conclude on Sunday with the 100-meter butterfly, the 100-meter backstroke, the 100-meter breaststroke, the 200-meter individual medley, the 1,500-meter freestyle, and the 400-meter medley relay. Preliminaries will begin at 9 a.m. with the finals at 5 p.m.

Tickets will be available for purchase at the USC McDonald's Swim Stadium for $3 for the preliminaries at $5 for the finals.


Women's 200-Meter Freestyle - 1. Natalie Coughlin (California Aquatics) 1:58.20; 2. Erin Reilly (California Aquatics) 2:00.46; 3. Lacey Nymeyer (Ford) 2:01.58

Men's 200-Meter Freestyle - 1. Jayme Cramer (Southeastern Swim Club) 1:49.87; 2. Shaun Phillips (Nashville Aquatic Club) 1:50.37; 3. Benjamin Stasiulis (French Team) 1:51.41

Women's 200-Meter Breaststroke - 1. Tara Kirk (Stanford Swimming) 2:28.67; 2. Qun Wang (China) 2:29.01; Kristen Caverly (Irvine Aquazot) 2:30.23

Men's 200-Meter Breaststroke - 1. John Criste (Irvine Novaquatics) 2:20.37; 2. Ivan Barnes (Ford) 2:20.40; 2. Chris Ash (Stanford Swimming) 2:20.40

Women's 50-Meter Freestyle - 1. Lacey Nymeyer (Ford) :25.60; 2. Courtney Cashion (Ford) :25.75; 3. Yanwei Xu (China) 25.84

Men's 50-Meter Freestyle - 1. Jason Lezak (Irvine Novaquatics) :22.51; 2. Nick Brunelli (Sun Devil Aquatics) :22.53; 3. Salim Iles (Algeria) :22.57

Women's 400-Meter Individual Medley - 1. Adrienne Binder (Santa Barbara Swim Club) 4:47.20; 2. Meghan Leddy (Eastern Express) 4:51.46; 3. Jessie Schmitt (North Coast Aquatics) 4:51.98

Men's 400-Meter Individual Medley - 1. Tamas Kerekjarto (Trojan Swim Club) 4:24.39; 2. Ziqiang Li (China) 4:26.89; 3. Tyler Clary (Fullerton Aquatics) 4:27.19

Women's 800-Meter Freestyle Relay - 1. Arizona Desert Fox (A) 8:22.16; 2. North Coast Aquatics (A) 8:26.78; 3. Sun Devil Aquatics (A) 8:28.83

Men's 800-Meter Freestyle Relay - 1. Fullerton Aquatics (A) 7:45.46; 2. Sierra Marlins (A) 7:52.26; 3. Irvine Novaquatics (A) 7:52.55

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