2014 Mesa Grand Prix Preview: Links, schedule and storylines to watch

  30 Jared Anderson | April 24th, 2014 | Featured, National, News, Previews & Recaps, US Grand Prix

pinit fg en rect gray 28 2014 Mesa Grand Prix Preview: Links, schedule and storylines to watch

2014 Mesa Grand Prix

Event Schedule

Thursday:

  • 100 free
  • 200 breast
  • 400 free
  • 100 fly
  • 400 free relay

Friday:

  • 400 IM
  • 200 free
  • 200 back
  • 50 free
  • 800 free relay

Saturday:

  • 200 fly
  • 100 breast
  • 100 back
  • 200 IM
  • 800 free (women only)
  • 1500 free (men only)
  • 400 medley relay

5 Storylines to Watch

1. That comeback you might have heard about: We won’t belabor the point. You’ve probably heard plenty already about the winningest Olympian of all time making his comeback from retirement in the desert this week. Michael Phelps will make his debut as a part of the new-and-improved NBAC professional squad  in Mesa, focusing on sprints (50 free, 100 free, 100 fly). This week will be a chance for fans – and Phelps himself – to gauge exactly where he’s at after nearly two years away from competition.

2. How about those loaded backstrokes? Mesa will be a fast meet all around, but there might not be a stroke with as much intrigue as the men’s backstrokes. Take a look at this all-star lineup in the 100: Olympic gold medalist Matt Grevers. World Champs silver medalist David Plummer. Swimming icon Ryan Lochte, on the comeback trail after his 2013 knee injury. Former Russian Olympian Arkady Vyatchanin, who’s been a staple on the Grand Prix circuit this season. NCAA breakout star Ryan Murphy, along with his training partner Jacob Pebley. Stanford pro Eugene Godsoe. Add in Olympic gold medalist Tyler Clary in the 200 (where Murphy might be at his most dangerous) and you’ve got a who’s-who of elite backstrokers who should make this race a showstopper. Even prelims will be exciting – just looking at numbers, there will be some big names missing out on the A final.

3. The other comeback story: Lost in the Michael Phelps hoopla is the fact that his former NBAC teammate and Olympic medalist Katie Hoff is making the first big-stage swim of her comeback. Once one of America’s most promising young swimmers (an Olympian at 15 and a three-time medalist at 19), Hoff had a disappointing run in the years following the Beijing Olympics and took much of 2013 off to focus on her studies. But Hoff has been quietly back in the water, posting some impressive times in local Florida meets. The Hoff comeback is one of the more underrated stories in the swimming world right now: she’s still just 24 years old with outstanding versatility. She’ll swim the 100 free, 100 fly, 200 free, 100 breast and 200 IM in Mesa. Oh, and she’ll likely be sporting that engagement ring she got while throwing out the ceremonial first pitch at the Tampa Bay Rays game on Sunday as well.

4. Grand Prix points race heats up: The Grand Prix circuit is giving away $150,000 in total prize money over the course of its 6 stops, with the top three finishers in each event earning prize money. First place nets $500, second $300 and third $100 – but those amounts also correspond to Grand Prix points, with first earning 5 points, second 3 and third 1. The top point-earners at the end of the series win a 1-year lease of a BMW, a pretty cool prize for a sport where earnings are still sparse.

Right now the men’s standings are deadlocked, with NBAC teammates Conor Dwyer and Yannick Agnel each holding at 27 points. Agnel isn’t eligible for the car prize (only U.S. swimmers can win the lease), but there’s certainly some friendly competition between the two for the Grand Prix title. Each will swim 6 events in Mesa. For the women, Megan Romano leads, but Caitlin Leverenz is just 2.5 points back. Second-place Katinka Hosszu won’t be competing, as she’s in Brazil at the Maria Lenk Trophy this weekend.

5. Master’s World Records on high alert: This year’s Mesa Grand Prix is dual sanctioned by USA Swimming and U.S. Masters Swimming, meaning registered Masters members are eligible to set Masters World Records at the meet. Hunting those records will be such names as Nathan Adrian, Anthony Ervin and Darian Townsend. All three are entered at the U.S. Master’s National Championships in early May, so should be Masters eligible for Mesa.

Just a few of the records that could be in jeopardy:

  • Adrian: 50 free age 25-29, 22.59
  • Ervin: 50 free age 30-34, 22.13
  • Townsend: 200 free age 30-34, 1:53.15*

*Note – Townsend is still 29 years old, but per FINA rules, a Masters swimmer’s age is officially determined by his/her age on December 31st of the year of competition. Townsend turns 30 in August, meaning he’s eligible to break 30-34 records at this time.

Comments

  1. PAC12BACKER says:
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    Only $150K prize money over 6 stops or 25K per stop. Pretty darn weak still. Consider the 30th baseball draft signee out of HS with about a $2 mil signing bonus, and baseball has been on the decline for over a decade.

    • TheTroubleWithX says:
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      On the decline? Not in attendance or revenue…

      • PAC12BACKER says:
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        Stats don’t lie. For example, SF Giants 8-3 win over Detroit a couple years ago set the record low television rating for a “World” Series opener with a 7.6 rating and 12 share. The previous year of 8.7 for St. Louis’ 3-2 win over Texas was the prior low, which had broken the low set from the prior year, Giants over the Rangers. Get the picture. Here’s also a couple article links, NY Times and one other, on the decline of baseball:
        http://www.huffingtonpost.com/joey-spitz/is-americas-pastime-dying_b_3686366.html

        http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/29/opinion/sunday/is-the-game-over.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

        Swimming, like fussball/futbol/football/soccer has accomplished, can grab a portion of the summer share from declining baseball if they would market the events & format properly!

        • Braden KeithBraden Keith says:
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          PAC12BACKER – I stopped reading when you said “Stats don’t lie.”

        • TheTroubleWithX says:
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          Of course, the relative numbers are going to decline as the national population grows and there are more sports and other entertainment options competing with baseball. However, either of those articles mention the fact that baseball still has the highest total attendance of all professional sports (yes, I MLB has 10x more games than the NFL), and while they both mention tv ratings, I don’t believe either takes into account the very popular MLB.tv subscription service. And again, baseball’s total revenue has roughly doubled over the past ten years. Sure, baseball will never command the national attention that it did in the 1930s, when it was essentially the only game in town, but there’s still massive attendance and 20-30 years of guaranteed billions in tv revenue. I realize that’s besides the point here, but the lifelong baseball fan in me has to rail against the notion that baseball is dying. :-)

          Having said all that, I grew up as a diehard baseball fan, and never really followed competitive swimming until about a year ago, when I knew by May that my beloved Phillies had no chance at all of competing for a baseball spot. So, I’m actually an example of a swimming fan who has been moderately sucked away from baseball. Although, I still have a mlb.tv subscription, play fantasy baseball, and am planning on hitting at least two MLB games if/when I go to California this summer to watch Summer Nationals.

          Hopefully that was more or less coherent, despite my rambling. I just had two cupcakes and I think I’m getting a sugar buzz.

          • PAC12BACKER says:
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            THETROUBLEWITHX, that’s a good time because the crosstown rivalry occurs just before and during Nationals. Dodgers play the Angels at Chavez ravine on Aug 4 & 5, and the Angels host the dodgers the following two dates. And Braden, those TV rating stats don’t lie, unlike some other “stats” touted by, for example, some politicians.

    • beachmouse says:
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      USAS doesn’t have an unlimited budget, and I’d rather see money available to elite athletes go toward training stipends for more athletes (and could we add a 3-4 discretionary funding picks every year so that someone really talented who is hurt/hugely pregnant/sick at selection meet time doesn’t lose a year of funding) than for prize money at meets that, while often highly entertaining, don’t matter very much compared to Worlds/Olympics/Pan Pacs.

  2. Swimcoach says:
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    Races I’m looking forward to in Mesa:
    Men’s 100 free – Agnel, Phelps, Lochte, Adrian, Ervin, etc, etc, etc!!!

    Women’s 100 free – Schmitt, Coughlin, Manuel, Hardy, Romano, Weir, Geer, And more!!!

    Men’s 100 fly – Lochte, Phelps, Shields, Godsoe

    Women’s 400 free – Ledecky, Schmitt, Friis

    Men’s 100 back – listed in your article! Pros vs. Amateurs

    Women’s 200 IM – who’s going to step up for the US? Leverenz, Hoff, Beisel

  3. Ryan says:
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    Major League baseball recently signed an 8 year $12.4 Billion deal with Fox for broadcasting rights. So it may be in the decline, but it is not hurting. Plus the American League average for home attendance each season is around 2.3 million people, per stadium. I love swimming but it is not in that class.

    This should be exciting. Phelps has a busy day on Thursday.

  4. bobo gigi says:
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    I also think the prize money is ridiculous.
    Please at least double it for next year. At least.

    Apart from the curiosity around MP and Katie Hoff and apart from all the other big names we have in Mesa this week, I’m also very interested in watching the young local sprint product Ryan Hoffer in the 100 free. He destroyed his PB in yards in 43.13. He still has everything to prove in long course but if he can translate his speed to the big pool as well as Caeleb Dressel did it last year, he should be able to swim around 49.50 THIS YEAR! But again, he still has everything to prove in long course. We’ll see.

  5. bobo gigi says:
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    I’m pretty sure that the craziest Michael Andrew fans would be very happy to see him beat the other Michael in one race this week in Mesa. In a simple heat for example. Even it’s perhaps for a 16th place.
    I can’t imagine what they could write here on swimswam! :roll:
    “WOW! MA has beaten MP! We have the new MP! 8 gold medals in Rio! Michael who?” :mrgreen:

  6. bobo gigi says:
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    I have a few interesting things for you, swimswam readers.

    First, a very interesting and funny blog from Allison Schmitt posted on the ESPN website.
    She talks about her break last year, her training now and the comeback of MP.
    Cool to see she has a refreshed mind and a refreshed body. She looks ready to swim fast until Rio.
    http://espn.go.com/espnw/athletes-life/blog/post/12065/comeback-kids

    Second, a video interview with Vinny Marciano from last week at the NASA showcase classic.
    He talks about his training and his summer goal.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eqrg_pZwOiA

    And third, a video interview with Michael Andrew also from the same meet last week.
    If I have well understood, he talks about his new breaststroke technique.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eprCu20WLMM

    :cool:

  7. MCMFLYGUY says:
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    the thing I don’t like about this whole Michael phelps story right now. And this also has to deal with swimswam here. LOOK AT THE FREAKIN PSYCH SHEET! this is a star studded line up. the 100 free alone is pretty much the Olympic team for men! instead of saying look whos there, Adrian, lochte, feigen, Ervin, even agnel., dwyer. but still the top story is phelps. shouldn’t it be something like who will win the 100 free? he isn’t in the running, but even Michael Andrew is there. Ya the money is kinda a bummer too. I think the major swim companies, tyr, speedo, etc. should all pitch in about 200k a piece to make the purse higher at the end.

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      Yes die hard fans prefer the story be about the high level swimmers. However when phelps announced his comeback for this meet the tickets where sold out in hours. Adrian, Ervin, Missy, grevers, are not stars in the public eye just yet.
      You can’t compare swimming and baseball professionally. The comparison would be more like the wnba where the women don’t make much here in the states but off season play in Europe for six figure salaries.

  8. floppy says:
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    Sadly, dana vollmer is not a storyline. Is she planning to come back? Just taking this year off? Unofficially retired?

  9. Pvdh says:
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    At this point, adrian is the runaway favorite for the 100 free. He always kills everyone on the Grand Prix circuit.

  10. liquid4Katie says:
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    I think we’re all rooting for Katie Hoff! Everyone loves a good comeback and redemption story, especially from a sweetheart like Katie. We know she’s got more in the tank.

    Dwyer vs. Agnel is fun too, for Grand Prix points, it helps that they’re both training together and with Phelps. They should let foreigners qualify for the car, too.

    100 back will be sick!! Only 2 of those swimmers have to be approaching A game and each other to make it exciting, but it will likely be more than 2.

    Is anyone else besides me bothered that the meet is dual USMS and USS sanctioned? I have been an outspoken champion in support of the elite swimmers being able to double dip and set Masters records and I still am. But now with the dual sanctioning, if I understand it correctly the dually registered elite USS swimmers don’t even have to bother going to regular Masters meets to set their records anymore. It’s been fun having them at the Master’s meets, raising the level of competition, excitement and interest in Master’s swimming. If it were up to me, I would say that dually registered USS/USMS swimmers have to set Masters records at a USMS competition, and USS records at USS competition. I like that there’s overlap, but too much overlap, when their competitions become the same meet, can blur the lines too much and interfere with their separate missions. But maybe that’s not fair. Anyone else have an opinion on that??

  11. liquid4Katie says:
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    Or am I misinterpreting the rules?

    • bobo gigi says:
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      Are you the same Liquid every time? :lol:

      • liquidpropstoBobo says:
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        lol yeah I was getting bored with liquidassets every time after so many years, so I’m mixing it up a bit these days. Especially after some funny wiseguy on here who disagreed with me on something posted a reply to me using “liquidass” awhile back. ;-) I will only use that myself if I make a real liquidass of myself, hopefully I won’t have to use it much.

        I know you haven’t show much interest in US Masters swimming, but since nobody else is biting, do you have any casual opinion on the issue I raised above re: combining USMS/USS sanctioned meets?

  12. ERVINFORTHEWIN says:
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    The biggest loaded field on backstroke i have ever seen in a Grand Prix !! and we all know Usa has been pretty dominant on backstroke events these past years … that will be exciting . Same for 100 free , both very exciting races and happy to see LC pools again .

  13. bobo gigi says:
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    I’ve just remarked you wrote the finals are at 5 PM Pacific Time.
    I believe that Mesa was in Mountain Standard Time.
    Hopefully I will understand something before the meet starts. :mrgreen:

    • bobo gigi says:
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      I believed.
      Ok. If I recap, the meets starts at 5 PM PT.
      Mesa is in MST but has the time of PT.
      Why? I don’t know but it’s like that.

      • liquid4TheGOAT says:
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        Bobo, Mesa is in Arizona which is an outlier, because I believe they don’t have Daylight Savings Time from early November to early March like most of the other states. Therefore the effect is that AZ is ion the same time as the other MST states during those winter months for 4 months, and for the rest of the year they are on the same time as the PST states. I hope I’m saying that right!! It’s confusing.

  14. liquid4TheGOAT says:
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    I think I did say it right, except technically speaking, the Daylight Savings Time is from March to November for agriculture to take advantage of the “warmer” months for growing, not November to March.

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About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson just can’t stay away from the pool. A competitive career sixteen years and running wasn’t enough for this native Minnesotan, who continues to get his daily chlorine fix. A lifelong lover of writing, Jared now combines the two passions as Senior Reporter for SwimSwam.com, covering swimming at every …

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