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Bulldog Grand Slam wrapped up in Athens

Pool time

POSTED: July 16, 2014 12:00 p.m.
Larry Wynn/Barrow County News

Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte looks up to the board after his swim.

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After a weekend of hot ticket races, the first ever Bulldog Grand Slam has come to an end with all the spectacle fans were promised. 

The meet saw the return of Bulldog Allison Schmitt to UGA’s swim facility with her club team, North Baltimore, in which she won the women’s 100-meter freestyle and the 200-meter freestyle.

This weekend’s Grand Slam also featured the head-to-head competition of some other American Olympians, including the top-billed races between recently unretired Michael Phelps and once presumed protégé Ryan Lochte. 

The four days of swimming action also gave young swimmers the opportunity to train alongside and swim by their idols. Such was the case for Winder-native Ian Hentenaar, who participated in the Grand Slam as a member of the Athens Bulldog Swim Club.

Hentenaar started the weekend Thursday by dropping about 20 seconds in his 800-meter performance, setting up what he hoped would be a fantastic payoff from his recent work with the UGA swim team.

Although Hentenaar’s six later events did not bring about as drastic an improvement as his first, the Bulldog-hosted event was a good chance for the local swimmer to display his hard work.

Not surprisingly, distance-oriented Hentenaar’s best event over the final three days was the men’s 400-meter freestyle. From a field of more than 60 swimmers, he finished at 41 with a time of 4:17.02. Although Connor Jaeger of Club Wolverine eventually won the event with a 3:45.34, Hentenaar was just about six seconds and ten places shy of making the finals. 

Although he did come in slightly slower than his seed time by .2 seconds, his final rank was the same as his seed rank in that event.

Hentenaar’s best improvements for the weekend were in the 200-meter butterfly and the 100-meter freestyle. In the 200-meter butterfly, he finished with a 2:16.55 to improve on his seed time of 2:17.03. Hentenaar then dropped .06 seconds in the 100-meter freestyle, going from 55.30 to 55.24. He also finished at 74 in a field of 121 for the 100-meter freestyle after qualifying at 82. 

In his three other events, the 100-meter butterfly, the 200-meter freestyle and the 200-meter individual medley, Hentenaar finished slightly slower than his qualifying time. For the 100-meter butterfly, Hentenaar finished in 1:02.05, slower than his seed time of 1:01.39.

In the 200-meter freestyle, his final time was 2:01.60, just a shade slower than his 2:00.98 seed time. Even with the extra .6 seconds, Hentenaar finished in the same position he qualified at 78 out of a 106-man field.

The 200-meter IM was one of Hentenaar’s final two events for the weekend, and his fatigue may have been showing when the difficult race came up. His final time, 2:19.38, was a full second slower than the 2:18.05 seed time he qualified with. Then again, Hentenaar was not the only fatigued swimmer that day as he still finished at 61, two spots better than his qualifying time had him seeded.

Overall, the Bulldog Grand Slam served Hentenaar well as an opportunity to keep working and training in his home facility with world-class competition.

That competition also took advantage of the weekend, as Phelps and Lochte faced off in three events and drew impressive crowds out to the Gabrielsen Natatorium.

Phelps, who holds the record for most Olympic gold medals won, defeated his supposed rival Lochte in all three direct competitions. From Friday to Sunday, Phelps participated in just the 100-meter butterfly, the 100-meter backstroke and the 100-meter freestyle. However, he took home first place in two of the events and second in the 100-meter freestyle, the main event of the weekend.

Phelps’ 100-meter butterfly time, 51.67, was exactly two seconds faster than second-place Lochte’s 53.67. Their gap was closer on the 100-meter backstroke, as Phelps upended Lochte with a 53.88 second result to the runner-up’s 54.40. 

Neither Olympic gold medalist won the 100-meter freestyle, although Phelps’ team did have a commanding presence on the podium for that event. Four of the top five finalists in the 100-meter freestyle were members of North Baltimore Aquatic Club, with Yannick Agnel’s 49.37 claiming the top spot. Phelps was close behind his teammate, though, with a 49.42 finish. 

Fellow NBAC member Conor Dwyer grabbed third behind Agnel and Phelps, finishing in 49.54, with Lochte’s 49.64-second effort for Swim-MAC breaking up the NBAC party at the top. Matt McLean would win fifth for the North Baltimore crew, finishing in 50.03.

Both Phelps and Lochte put in faster preliminary times than either would probably prefer, perhaps limiting what they could do in the final. The two rivals finished at one and two respectively, whereas Agnel finished his preliminary at 50.28, only good enough to qualify fourth. As a result, he had more to give when the final came around. 

Lochte would win the 200-meter IM in 1:58.65, but he was not even in the fastest final for the 200-meter freestyle. Lochte qualified ninth in that race with a 1:52.32 preliminary time. He would end up with a fourth place finish after dropping more than three seconds with a 1:48.69 finals.

 

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