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.

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