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Charlotte Grand Prix swimming: Hungarian dominates

Her name is unfamiliar to Americans outside the swim community, but Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu has dominated the Charlotte Grand Prix this weekend with one of the most spectacular performances the meet has ever seen.

Hosszu, 25, has already won four individual events in Charlotte – two on Friday and two more on Saturday night. The four individual wins – in a meet that perennially features dozens of Olympians – ranks among the most ever won by any swimmer during the 30 years this event has been hosted by SwimMAC Carolina.

Hosszu tried a rare “triple” in event finals on Saturday night, winning her first two events before finally running out of gas in the women’s 400 freestyle, where she finished eighth. Her three finals on Saturday night were a total of 52 minutes apart.

“I love to race,” Hosszu said, “even when I am hurting.”

“Just the fact that she was able to stand up and race that 400 after what she had done already was very impressive,” said American Allison Schmitt, a former Olympic gold medalist who ultimately won the 400 freestyle.

“Hosszu is impeccably fit and very feisty,” said David Marsh, SwimMAC’s coach and CEO. “She may be the best female swimmer in the world right now.”

Hosszu, who swam for Southern Cal in college and is a huge fan of LeBron James, represented Hungary in the 2012 Olympics in London but did not win a single Olympic medal. In the past two years, she has changed her training under the tutelage of her coach and husband. Hosszu swims every stroke well and, unlike most other swimmers, has a philosophy of competing at the highest level in every meet rather than trying to peak in one or two meets in a particular year.

“This is all a pretty good sign for me,” Hosszu said of her four victories.

The Charlotte Grand Prix’s starpower declined considerably Saturday since Michael Phelps had his “one-day-and-done” meet on Friday. After winning his lone final at the Mecklenburg County Aquatic Center, Phelps attended horse racing’s Preakness in Maryland Saturday and watched California Chrome keep alive his Triple Crown bid. Phelps, in other words, chose to watch racing Saturday rather than do more of it himself.

Hosszu, meanwhile, was winning the 200 butterfly and the 100 backstroke and then finishing eighth in the 400 freestyle. On Friday, she had won the 200 free and the 400 individual medley, and she is not done yet. Hosszu will swim the 200 individual medley and the 200 backstroke Sunday, trying for her fifth and sixth wins of the meet.

In other swimming news:

• Ryan Lochte will sign autographs for fans Sunday at the meet. Lochte will be available from 4-5:30 p.m. in the VIP Hospitality tent, outside of the Aquatic Center to the left of the main entrance. Fans will be able to choose whether they would like to get an item autographed or take a photo with Lochte, according to SwimMAC.

• Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace won two women’s events Saturday – the 50 freestyle and the 50 butterfly. Vanderpool-Wallace is an Olympian for the Bahamas, but she has been living in Charlotte throughout 2014 so she can train with SwimMAC’s Team Elite. SwimMAC’s Madison Kennedy finished second.

• Micah Lawrence, a 2012 U.S. Olympian for SwimMAC, won the 200 breaststroke Saturday, which is her signature event. Lawrence has transferred to Queens to finish her schoolwork. She has one year left for a degree in new media design.

• Cullen Jones, the former N.C. State swimmer who has won gold medals at the Olympics for SwimMAC for 2008 and 2012, swam in both the 50 freestyle (fifth) and 50 butterfly (eighth). Jones said he was “sharpening up” for a heavy summer of competition and was OK with his results.

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