Be sure to watch the 200 fly at this weekend’s UltraSwim, which is sponsored by SwimSwam!
The psych sheets are out for the 2013 Charlotte UltraSwim Grand Prix, the 5th of 6 stops in the 2013 USA Swimming Grand Prix Series.
My initial reaction is that this is the highest-enrolled stop of this year’s Grand Prix series, that has a number of entry-control measures in place. Some races still are in the 40-50 swimmer sweet spot, but others have ballooned, especially the freestyle races. For example, the men’s 200 free has 132 entries, and the women’s race has 99.
This seems to be largely the effect of college swimmers really starting to take the meet over. The NCAA season was over in time for the Mesa Grand Prix, but being so shortly after the championship meet, there wasn’t a huge influx of post-secondary entries (though the effect was definitely noticeable.) This meet in North Carolina, which is so close to so many Division I college programs, is loaded with college athletes.
The standings for the series, newly separated into male and female categories this year, sees Missy Franklin running away with the women’s title. Even without competing at this meet due to “being a high school senior” (prom, finals, graduation, etc.), she should still be in the lead when Santa Clara rolls around, where Franklin is again expected to join the series.
The men’s title is much more up-for-grabs. Tyler Clary and Ryan Lochte, partially by virtue of their dedication to the series, are separated by just four points, which is the equivalent of one second and one third place finish.
Clary is entered in the 200 free, the 400 IM, the 200 fly, the 100 back, the 200 back, and the 200 IM. That won’t be quite the same cakewalk as it was in Mesa, with the presence of fellow Olympians like Marcin Cieslak, and Joseph Schooling, as well as those who just missed like Chase Kalisz, to challenge him in his best events.
Lochte is entered in 7 events, and the two will have head-to-head matchups in the 200 free, the 200 IM, and both backstrokes.
Lochte is also swimming the 50 fly, which is part of what makes this Charlotte Grand Prix so special and important. The non-Olympic 50 meter races (and non-Olympic distance events) will all be swum here. With USA Swimming selecting specifically for this events in 2013, a new wrinkle in the World Championship qualifying rules, so this meet is vital for Americans to gain experience in these events. Afterall, the Americans (in relative terms) have struggled in the non-Olympic events.
5 Races to Watch at the 2013 Charlotte UltraSwim Grand Prix
(By this point of the Grand Prix, there’s some storylines that continue to be the same at every meet. So, instead, we’ve chosen to pick out some things that are unique and new stories to this meet.)
1. Olivia Smoliga American Record Watch in the 50 Backstroke – Georgia-bound Illinois High School swimmer Olivia Smoliga has a few very interesting entries at this meet. One is the 50 backstroke, where in December she broke the SCM American Record at the Short Course World Championships with a 26.13 (crushed it by almost a second, in fact.) The current American Record in long course is 27.80 held by Hayley McGregory; Smoliga should almost surely grab a spot for Worlds in the 50 backstroke, but this weekend could get the record as well.
2. Cullen Jones Racing Again - Cullen Jones has been fairly dormant after his Olympic appearance in 2012, but he’s returning to action this weekend in a home meet at SwimMAC. He’s swum a few local low-level meets in the last month. Two weeks ago he was a 19.45 in the 50 yard free; last weekend he was 23.4 in a long course 50 and 52.0 in a long course 100. He’s entered in those races, along with the 50 and 100 long course butterflies, at this weekend’s meet, and he’s going to need to be a lot quicker to convince fans that he’s got a shot at Worlds. He was a 22.39 in the 50 free at last year’s meet.
3. Kelsi Worrell Learning Long Course - Last week, Louisville freshman Kelsi Worrell joked via her Twitter account that she was “finally learning how to swim long course” (adding a #maybe and a #hopefully for good measure.) After a phenomenal breakout freshman season, though, it’s scary what we could see this summer if she’s still learning about swimming long course. In the 100 fly she placed 4th at NCAA’s in a 51.80 in yards. That’s almost three seconds faster than she was as a senior in high school. In long course as a senior in high school, she was a 1:00.55. In Mesa, she was already a 59.20. Doing some math there, she should be headed toward a 58, at least, this summer, with a 57 easily in reach.
4. The Race to Fill Phelps’ 400 IM Shoes - Headed into the next Olympic cycle, there is an interesting race shaping up in the 400 IM. After Michael Phelps (and to a lesser extent Ryan Lochte) have held those races on lockdown for a long, long time, there’s suddenly some daylight. Phelps is retired, and Lochte says he isn’t training for the 400 IM anymore (though may be still racing at Trials.) The three fastest guys in 2012 who didn’t make the team, however, are all swimming the race at this meet: Tyler Clary, Phelps’ former training partner Chase Kalisz, and Wisconsin’s Michael Weiss. Clary won in Mesa, but didn’t get much of a battle. With this great three-way battle, plus the likes of Conor Dwyer and South Africa’s Sebastien Rousseau, the battle for those 400 IM spots will be tested by the fire of competition.
5. Laura Sogar, For Real This Time? - This is a bit of a recycle from the Mesa Grand Prix, where Texas’s Laura Sogar, the NCAA Champion in the 200 breast who has now exhausted her NCAA eligibility, was entered in the meet but didn’t swim. Sogar’s stock has risen drastically in the last 6 months, starting with a good performance at Short Course Worlds, and continuing on to that NCAA Championship. Our readers are now already beginning to buzz about her potential to make the World Championship team, especially with World Record holder in the 200 Rebecca Soni taking the year off. In the 200 breast, Sogar is the second seed behind the other 200 meter Olympian Micah Lawrence, who is back racing where she spent training in the year up until Omaha and then London.