Tanya Hunks during the 2009 World Championships in Rome. © Swimming Canada

COLUMBIA, Missouri – Brent Hayden, Annamay Pierse and Tanya Hunks, all of Vancouver, won gold medals on Friday to open the U.S., Swimming Grand Prix competition.

In the men’s 200 freestyle, Hayden led from start to finish for the victory in one minute and 48.70 seconds. Oussama Mellouli of Tunisia was second in 1:49.04 and Alex Di Giorgi of Italy third in 1:52.24.

“It’s good enough for now but not a race I’m very excited about,” said Hayden, 26, a four-time world championship medallist. “With the changes in the suits, I have to keep in my mind how to end the race.”

In the women’s 100 breaststroke, Pierse was also fast off the blocks and sailed to the win in 1:08.65. Keri Hehn of the U.S., was second in 1:09.84 and Haylee Johnson of Vancouver third in 1:10.56.

In the women’s 400 individual medley, Hunks built a solid lead early to earn the gold in 4:46.49. Stephanie Proud of Britain was second in 4:52.93 and Chloe Sutton of the U.S., third in 4:59.15.

“I was very pleased with that performance,” said Hunks, the Canadian record holder in the event. “It was two seconds faster than my time at this point last year. I was particularly pleased with my breaststroke. It’s been a lot more consistent this year.”

In the men’s 400 IM, Thiago Pereira of Brazil was the winner in 4:17.59 edging Mellouli in second at 4:17.95. Brian Johns of Vancouver followed in third spot for the bronze in 4:19.32.

“It was a big confidence builder,” said Johns, about his first 400 IM since the 2008 Olympics where he broke the Canadian record. “It was a strong field and I was in it pretty much the whole way. I just came here to apply what we’ve been working on in training and I felt I made a lot of strides forward. It was the first time I broke the 4:20 barrier while in a training period.”

Noemie Thomas of Vancouver was fourth in the women’s 100 butterfly.

Competition continues through to Sunday.

Full results at : http://www.csctigersharks.org/realtime/