By USA Swimming | Friday, May 31, 2019
The Indiana University Natatorium in Indianapolis played host to an exciting opening night at the FINA Champions Swim Series, which featured half of the day’s events being won by American swimmers. The new four-lane, finals-only style event brought a night full of big swims, tight finishes and great entertainment.
While the light shows, drumlines and dance squads made for an entertaining night, it was the performances of Indiana-natives Lilly King and Cody Miller that brought the hometown crowd to its feet. King’s electrifying victories came in the 200-meter and 50m breaststroke while Miller took first in the men’s 100m breaststroke with a time of 59.26.
“This is my favorite pool,” said Miller. “Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had some bad swims in this pool too, but I’ve had some good swims too and tonight was a pretty good swim, so it was cool.”
“I mean it’s my hometown crowd here, I love coming to race at the [Indiana University Natatorium],” added King. “I know I have a lot of kids watching me like I did when I was younger and we had big meets here, so it’s pretty cool to have them out there.”
Both of King’s victories came down to the wire against Russian breaststroker, Yulia Efimova, who was out-touched by just two tenths of a second in the 200m breaststroke and three tenths of a second in the 50m breaststroke.
Joining King as the only swimmer with two wins on the night was Chase Kalisz, whose multi-win performance came by way of the 200m butterfly and 200m individual medley. Kalisz’s 200m butterfly performance bested three other U.S. National Team members, as Justin Wright, Zach Harting and Jack Conger finished in respective order. His 200m individual medley win also came against three National Team members, as he topped Michael Andrew, Josh Prenot and Harting in respective order.
“It’s good, the times weren’t great, but it was a tough double,” said Kalisz. “It’s not as easy as it was when I was 18, being 25 it hurts a lot more, but I think it’s good race experience. It’s like a training day for me. Being able to string together two decent races back-to-back is what I wanted to accomplish.”
Three-time Olympic gold medalist Ryan Murphy took first in the 100m backstroke with a time of 52.99, making him the only swimmer with a sub-53 time. Murphy’s time was good for the best of the night, and the third best 100m-backstroke time of 2019.
“It was good, I wasn’t expecting to go that time, so it’s good,” Murphy said of his swim. “It was really good for me to get under 53 seconds, that’s a tough barrier, so I’m really happy with that and I’m excited to keep on rolling throughout the season.”
The final American to claim a win on the night was Leah Smith, whose 400m freestyle time of 4:03.86 was just over two and a half seconds faster than the competition.
“I heard my time before I saw the screen,” said Smith. “Sometimes you touch and you think you went a good time and really it’s not, so I was happy that I felt like I was going a good time and I did go that.”
The night was capped off with a 400m mixed freestyle relay, which was claimed by Champions Team 4, comprised of Kelsi Dahlia, Jacob Pebley, Michael Andrew and Netherlands swimmer Ranomi Kromowidjojo. Teams were decided by a ping pong ball, lottery-style decision that pieced together teams of all styles and strokes.
Day two of the FINA Champions Series begins tomorrow at 7 p.m. ET at the Indiana University Natatorium. Tickets are available at usaswimming.org.