ORLANDO, Fla., March 4 – Avon native Madison Kennedy tied her career-best in the 50-meter freestyle and won at the Arena Pro Series in Orlando Friday evening.
Kennedy captured the 50 meters in 24.71 seconds, tying the career-low time she set last August when she won her first U.S. national title in the 50 freestyle.
It is the top time by a U.S. swimmer this year in the 50 free and is the fifth fastest time in the world in the event. She is one of three swimmers in the world with a time of 24.71 seconds this season.
Kennedy finished fourth in qualifying in Orlando this morning with a time of 25.46 seconds but swam well in the final at the YMCA Aquatic Center. She beat American Simeone Manuel, who was second in 24.91 seconds, followed by Belarus’ Al Herasimenia (24.98) and American Ivy Martin (25.45). Manuel swam a time of 25.29 in qualifying.
“It feels awesome,” Kennedy told the USA Swimming broadcast team after the win. “I’m getting stronger. It’s fun. We’re coming (up) to an exciting time of the year. I’m excited to see what everyone is doing and I hope I can be a part of it.”
The swimmers are training hard with the U.S. Olympic Trials on their minds. The trials are in Omaha, Nebraska from June 26 through July 3. Kennedy has qualified in the 50 freestyle and 100 freestyle.
It is the second strong performance for Kennedy in the Arena Pro Series. At the last Arena Pro event in Austin, Texas, in January, Kennedy was second in the 50 free with a time of 24.72 seconds.
Kennedy will be swimming Saturday in Orlando in the 100 freestyle. She is seeded 11th with a time of 54.72 seconds.
The meet in Orlando is the third of seven stops on the 2015-16 Arena Pro Swim Series. The winner of each event earns $1,000 with $600 for second place and $200 for third place. It’s also a way to compete against a challenging field of international swimmers. Swimmers can register Olympic qualifying times in these races.
The remaining stops on the Arena Pro Swim Series are in Mesa, Arizona (April 14-16), Charlotte (May 12-15), Indianapolis (June 2-5) and Santa Clara, California (June 2-5).
Kennedy lives in Charlotte and trains with SwimMAC Carolina’s Team Elite.
SATURDAY UPDATE: On Saturday, Kennedy swam in the 100 meters and just missing qualifying for the final with a time of 55.76 seconds, which was 0.05 of a second behind the eighth place finisher. Kennedy swam in the B final and won it easily in 54.92 seconds — a time that would have been good enough for fourth place in the A final. Officially, she finished ninth.
Stanford’s Simone Manuel won the 100 meters in 54.27 seconds in a field that included four U.S. Olympic gold medalists.