By USA Swimming | Sunday, June 2, 2019
The FINA Champions Swim Series wrapped up its inaugural season with another exciting night of swimming in Indianapolis. Night two at the Indiana University Natatorium saw five American victories, multiple top times in the world in 2019 and a great conclusion to a gripping new event.
The concluding night began with three straight American wins, sparked by Jacob Pebley taking the 200-meter backstroke in 1:56.35, finishing ahead of National Team members Ryan Murphy and Matt Grevers.
“I haven’t beaten Ryan in five years in backstroke, so this means a lot,” said Pebley. “My coach told me that he thought I could win, and he said to just act like I’ve been there before because that’s just the first of many hopefully.”
Following Pebley, Hali Flickinger continued the success with a 200m win of her own, this time in the 200m butterfly. Flickinger’s time of 2:06.40 set the new mark for top time in the world of 2019, besting the previous mark of 2:06.62, recorded by Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu this past May.
“I’m really happy with it,” Flickinger said of her time. “I think last summer really gave me the confidence boost that I needed. I’ve never been 2:07 in season and I am way under that now so I’d have to contribute it to last summer finally having a swim that I knew I was long due for.”
The third-consecutive American victory came by way of Michael Andrew in the 100m butterfly. His time of 51.87 was the only sub-52 mark and gave Andrew his first tally in his FINA Champions Swim Series win category. After competing in all three stops of the 2019 FINA Champions Swim Series, Andrew has become an advocate for the new format and new events to come in the sport of swimming.
“I think it’s awesome,” said Andrew of the FINA Champions Swim Series. “Much like Cody [Miller] and the other athletes have been saying, this is a step in the right direction. I think the athletes still don’t understand how much value we bring to the table as competitors and entertainers, and it’s cool to see that FINA and other organizations are starting to recognize that and give us the opportunity to race for real money.”
After yesterday’s two-win outing, Indiana-native Lilly King once again brought the hometown crowd to its feet with a win in the 100m breaststroke. Her time of 1:05.13 marked the fastest 100m breaststroke swim in the world so far in 2019. In just four individual races in Indianapolis, King managed to set two top times of 2019. The win also gave King her third title of the event, the most of any competitor in Indianapolis.
“[Getting] world’s best time again and I think that was the fastest I have been in season, I’m really happy with it,” said King. “Honestly it hurt really bad, I went out like a shot and was a little faster than I was planning on, so I thought I was going to get caught there at the end but luckily I was able to hang on.”
Matt Grevers recorded the final American victory of the night with his 24.78 performance in the 50m backstroke. The win was Grevers’ first of the event, and he will hope to use it to build momentum ahead of the 2019 FINA World Championships this coming July.
“The time was okay, I’m actually kind of surprised it won, but that’s great,” said Grevers. “I’m super excited that I am where I am at this point in the season. Being able to have that speed in the 50 [meter] is a really good range for the 100 [meter] at Worlds so I’m excited.”
The night ended with the 400m mixed medley relay, which went to the team of Pebley, King, Jack Conger and Ranomi Kromowidjojo. At the end of the two-day event, a total of 12 events were won by American swimmers. The new four-lane, finals-only format was made to create exciting swims and entertaining events, and the Indianapolis stop of the series was proof of just that.