Anthony Ervin wins 100 free; Ryan Lochte takes 2 third places
Anthony Ervin is looking like he's going to be a real contender in the pool this June at the U.S. world team trials.
And Ryan Lochte? Well, he's getting there - at his own pace.
Ervin completed a strong weekend at the Arena Grand Prix in Charlotte by defeating a competitive field in the 100-meter freestyle that included former Olympians Cullen Jones, Ricky Berens and Garrett Weber-Gale.
The win comes one day after Ervin beat a loaded field in the 50 free.
Lochte, the 11-time Olympic medalist, competed in two events Sunday, finishing third in both the 200 IM and the 200 backstroke. Lochte led both events up until the final turn before fading in the final 50 meters.
"Oh, that hurt," Lochte said with a grimace. "That was the pain train. I definitely felt it. I was struggling."
But Lochte said he expected nothing less.
"If I feel good at this point in the season we have a problem," Lochte said. "I want to feel really beat up and don't want to be swimming my fastest times. I want to save that for when it matters."
Lochte has only recently returned to training full time after wrapping up production of his reality TV show "What Would Ryan Lochte Do?"
He's scheduled to compete in two more meets before the U.S. world team trials.
"I have four or five weeks to fix it," Lochte said. "When I'm out ahead in meets like this and I'm getting caught in the end it just shows that I have been doing some work and I'm tired. Four or five more weeks of training and resting will help and hopefully things will change when it really matters."
In the 200 IM, Lochte looked strong hitting the wall for the final time as the crowd cheered him on.
That's when Chase Kalisz kicked it into a different gear in the freestyle leg and won the race going away in 1:59.66. Singapore's Joseph Schooling finished second and Lochte touched home in 2:01.56, nearly two full seconds off the pace.
Lochte suffered a similar fate in the 200 backstroke looking strong until the final 50 meters before losing to Ryan Murphy, who won in 1:59.93. Jack Conger also passed Lochte late to finish second in 2:00.25. Lochte finished in 2:00.80.
The 31-year-old Ervin left swimming for eight years after the 2000 Sydney Games but was pumped after a strong showing in Charlotte.
He returned two years ago and earned a spot on the U.S. team for the London Games. There, he took fifth place in the 50 free.
Now he appears to be swimming better than ever.
Ervin made the turn in a blazing 22.9 seconds and finished in 49.14 to beat out Berens (49.99) and Michael Klueh (50.35). Weber-Gale was fifth and Jones finished seventh.
"I was trying to push it and then just hold on," Ervin said. "That's just the way I do it. It's not ideal, but it works for me."
Still, Ervin said the water "felt like stone" the final 25 meters.
Connor Jaeger captured the men's 1,500 freestyle, finishing in 15 minutes, 2.68 seconds, less than a second ahead of Michael McBroom.
On the women's side, two-time Olympian Chloe Sutton captured the 800 free in 8:25.88, edging out Andreina Pinto of Venezuela by five-hundreds of a second in the closest race of the night.
"That was a ton of fun," Sutton said. "Coach is going to tell me that I didn't take it out fast enough. I really had to turn it on late. But I'm really happy with the time."
Sixteen-year-old Kathleen Baker won the women's 200 IM in 2:14.46, beating out Olympian Shannon Vreeland, and 15-year-old Kaitlin Harty won the 200 backstroke in 2:10.38 with a convincing win over Megan Romano and Brooke Zeiger.
Romano captured the 100 free in 55.24, edging out Vreeland and Lia Neal.