TYR Pro Swim Series Mission Viejo: Ryan Held, Nic Fink Open Session With Victories (Men’s Recap)

Ryan Held -- Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

TYR Pro Swim Series Mission Viejo: Ryan Held, Nic Fink Open Session With Victories (Men’s Recap)

Many top Americans and U.S.-trained foreigners are racing at this week’s TYR Pro Swim Series in Mission Viejo, Calif., the last elite competition prior to next month’s U.S. Nationals, and the first full evening of finals featured five men’s events: the 100 freestyle, 100 breaststroke, 50 backstroke, 200 butterfly and 400 freestyle. At the start of the session, a pair of veterans scored wins as Ryan Held edged out Bjorn Seeliger in the 100 free and Nic Fink pulled away on the second 50 to take first place in the 100 breast.

Men’s 100 Freestyle

American veteran Ryan Held broke 49 seconds for the first time this year as he edged out Cal’s Bjorn Seeliger to win the first final of the night. Held, 27, returned to the American “A” team last year after a five-year absence and swam a key leg on the victorious U.S. men’s 400 free relay at the World Championships. In Mission Viejo, Held went out fast in 23.10, but Seeliger was even quicker to the halfway point at 22.95, and Held had to come from behind to win in 48.74, just ahead of Seeliger’s 48.80.

Held became the fastest American so far this year, just ahead of Hunter Armstrong’s 48.79 from the last stop of the Pro Series in Westmont, Ill., and he is the fifth American to go sub-49 along with Armstrong, Kaii WinklerJack Alexy and Matt King.

Armstrong took third here in 49.13, just ahead of Alexy (49.14) and Justin Ress (49.18). Ress, who now trains at Mission Viejo, joined Held, Caeleb Dressel and Brooks Curry on last year’s gold-medal relay,.

Men’s 100 Breaststroke

The early lead in this final belonged to Texas’ Jake Foster, but Nic Fink has been the top American former in the 100 breast over the past two years, and he quickly asserted himself on the back half. Fink, the bronze medalist at last year’s World Championships, finished in 59.77 to beat Foster by more than a second. Previously, Fink had been as fast as 59.95 this year, with Michael Andrew the only other American to crack the 1:00-barrier.

Foster ended up second in 1:00.81. The 22-year-old from Cincinnati dropped more than two seconds from his entry time Thursday, entering the day at 1:03.14 before going 1:01.34 in prelims and then his strong effort at night. Third place went to 34-year-old Brandon Fischer in 1:01.19.

Men’s 50 Backstroke

So far this season, 50 back world-record holder Hunter Armstrong and world champion Justin Ress have alternated wins in the event at TYR Pro Series meets, with Ress getting the better of Armstrong in Fort Lauderdale before Armstrong scored a tight victory last month in Westmont. This time, Ress got the win in his home pool in 24.79 while Armstrong took second in 24.91. Both men were off their season-best times, with Armstrong having touched in 24.30 in Westmont and Ress coming off a 24.49 at the Knoxville meet in January.

Cal’s Hugo Gonzalez, the runnerup in the 400-yard IM and 200-yard back at the NCAA Championships this year, finished third in 25.05.

Men’s 200 Butterfly

He faded on the final 50, but Trenton Julian used his typical speed on the first 150 meters to build enough of a lead to hold on for a win. Julian, the runnerup in the 200 fly at last year’s International Team Trials in 1:54.22, clocked a time of 1:56.51, which was more than a second clear of second-place finisher Jack Dahlgren (1:57.77).

Julian now trains at Mission Viejo after his impressive career at Cal, and two more Cal swimmers raced in this final. Dare Rose was third in 1:58.37 while Gabriel Jett, who clocked 1:54.37 in winning this event at U.S. Nationals last July, ended up a surprising sixth in 2:00.17.

Men’s 400 Freestyle

Egypt’s Marwan El Kamash was the only swimmer to break 3:50 in the 400 freestyle, concluding the evening’s championship racing with a win over a trio of Texas Longhorns. El Kamash, already the winner of the 1500 free, touched in 3:49.65, while Coby Carrozza took second in 3:50.90, with his teammates Alec Enyeart (3:51.86) and David Johnston (3:51.91) racing in a tight battle to get to the wall in third and fourth place, respectively.

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