Between 2012 and 2017, Indianapolis’ IUPUI Natatorium will host many huge college meets during the month of March. Specifically, they will host 6 NCAA National Championship meets in that 7 year span. But this year, while College Championship meets rage elsewhere, Indianapolis will play host to the professionals (and future professionals still in the junior ranks) at the 2011 Indianapolis Grand Prix.
The stars are really coming out for this meet, and it’s easy to imagine why. The IUPUI natatorium, despite turning 30-years old in 2012, is still honored as one of the best and fastest pools in the world. It’s 4,700 permanent spectator seating makes it the largest (permanent) indoor pool in the United States, and the star-studded, international lineup will surely fill the place up. This will include the vast majority of the Trojan Aquatic Club, Gator Swim Club, and Tucson Ford elite squads, which are the three hottest programs in the country, if not the world right now. This is the kind of meet USA-Swimming envisioned when they first dreamed up the Grand Prix series.
Many swimmers use this meet as sort of a gauge as to where they stand in preparation for the end-of season meets, as it falls right before when the professionals usually start their toughest long course training. This is even more true for Josh Scnheider, who will race-off against SwimMAC teammate Cullen Jones for the right to represent the US in the 50 free at the World Championships during May’s Charlotte Ultraswim stop. Jones, though USA-Swimming referenced multiple times that he would be at this meet, is still not on the psych sheets. Let’s hope he’s a late entry or a deck entry, because by my count, he hasn’t competed still since August’s Pan-Pac Championships, and it would be a great teaser to see him and Schneider battle here.
Full Psych Sheets Here.
Among the participants expected, along with event entries:
Michael Phelps (100/200 free, 100/200 fly, 200 IM)
Ryan Lochte (50/100/200/400 free, 100/200 back, 100 fly, 200 IM)
Ous Mellouli (Tunisia) (100/200/400/1500 free, 200 fly, 200/400 IM)
Tyler Clary (200/400 free, 200 back, 200 fly, 400 IM)
Jason Lezak (50/100 free)
Eric Shanteau (100/200 breast, 200 IM)
Mark Gangloff (100/200 breast, 200 IM)
Mike Alexandrov (100/200 breast)
Kosuke Kitajima (Jap) (100/200 breast)
Josh Schneider (50/100 free, 100 fly)
Markus Rogan (Austria) (100/200 breast, 200 IM)
Todd Patrick (200 free, 200 fly, 200/400 IM)
Nicholas Oleveira (50/100/200 free, 100 fly)
Peter Vanderkaay (100/200/400/1500 free)
Matt Grevers (50/100 free, 100 back, 100 breast)
David Plummer (100 back, 100 breast)
Nick Thoman (100 free, 100/200 back, 100 fly)
Tyler McGill (50 free, 100 back, 100 fly, 200 IM)
Jessica Hardy (50/100 free, 100 breast, 100 fly)
Dana Vollmer (50/100/200/400 free, 100 fly)
Missy Franklin (50/100/200/400 free, 100/200 back, 100 fly)
Katie Hoff (100/200/400/800 free)
Kate Ziegler (100/200/400/800 free)
Chloe Sutton (100/200/400/800 free, 200 fly, 200 back, 400 IM)
Annie Chandler (50/100 free, 100/200 breast)
Julia Smit (50/100/400 free, 200/400 IM)
Madison Kennedy (50/100/200 free)
Madison White (50/100 free, 100/200 back)
Victoria Poon (Canada) (50/100 free, 100 fly)
Erica Morningstar (Canada) (100 free, 100 breast, 100 back, 200 IM)
Races to Watch
Men’s 200 IM
Any viewing schedule for this meet has to start with the men’s 200 IM. This race will feature both of the American transcendent superstars, Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte, as well as Tunisia’s Ous Mellouli, who has been on a mission lately in his swims. This is not Mellouli’s best event (he’s much stronger in the 400 IM) but there’s no doubt that he’s going to be competitive with the way he is swimming. The assumption is that Lochte has been training his brains off, and so won’t be much in a “World-Record state” in this race. Michael Phelps seems to have refocused his training, including a recent stint working at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, and this is an event that he’d probably like to reap some rewards in.
If you add in the elite breaststrokers, Eric Shanteau and Mark Gangloff, and the always entertaining Markus Rogan (can’t wait to see what he has to say), the final of this meet is going to be a who’s-who of men’s swimming. The only thing that’s missing from this race is Tyler Clary, who’s swimming the 400, but not the 200.
Women’s 100 free
This race is going to be star-studded, with youth and veterans, Americans and internationals, freestyle specialists and otherwise all colliding head-on. The big names will be Jessica Hardy, Dana Vollmer, and series leader Missy Franklin, but National Teamers like Katie Hoff, Kate Ziegler, and Julia Smit will also take the opportunity to get some sprinting in.
One of the more interesting names in this race is Canadian Victoria Poon. She is the Short Course Canadian Record holder in this event (the owner of the long course mark, Erica Morningstar, is also in this race), though she is probably a little better in the 50. Still, at 27 she has been plowing her way through the World Rankings, and with continued improvement has a good chance at an Olympic final.
Men’s 100 breaststroke
This race will feature not only the three best American breaststrokers by far, comebacks and rumored comebacks notwithstanding, as well as the best breaststroker in the world this year. The three representing the US will be Eric Shanteau, Mark Gangloff, and Mike Alexandrov, who will be fighting this battle again about a year from now to earn spots on the London Olympic team. They will have a serious rabbit to chase down though, as Japanese swimmer Kosuke Kitajima will be leading the fight. Hopefully this results in great times for all.
Sidebar to this race, Shanteau recently moved out to LA to train with Kitajima and the rest of the Trojan Aquatic breaststroke group. I’m excited to see if there’s any noticeable changes in his stroke yet, or if there’s any other effects of the move.
Women’s 100 breaststroke
Recent Arizona graduate Annie Chandler was the fourth-ranked American breaststroke over the summer, after only a few months of training as a professional. Jessica Hardy still competes in this event on a regular basis, though seemingly every interview she does seems to indicate that she’s ready to give it up and focus on the sprint freestyles. But none-the-less, there she sits, 3rd in the current-year’s world rankings and 5th in last year’s. Chandler would make the decision to drop this race a whole-lot easier if she could jump up and take that second spot from Hardy.
Now with almost a full year of training under her belt without the rigors of the NCAA schedule (though she’s still working with the same coaches and same program), I’m quite curious to see what Chandler has in her in this meet. The Tucson Ford swimmer will be at a little bit of a different point in her training than Hardy, given that she isn’t headed to Shanghai for the World Championships, so the result will be taken for what it’s worth. Still interesting.
Despite Missy Franklin skipping the last stop in Missouri, Nobody was really able to make up a whole lot of ground on her. Ous Mellouli did thrust himself into the race though after winning five events at the lightly attended Columbia Grand Prix. (By my math, Mellouli should be much higher than this, as these points seem to exclude his totals from the Minneapolis Grand Prix in November, but I’m checking it out). Given that he has such an event diversity, and that his event schedule leaves him as a heavy favorite in many of his races, there’s a very good chance that he will pass Ryan Lochte even if they both finish out the series will full participation.
Ricky Berens is skipping this meet, which is his first missed event of the series. Given that Franklin plans to turn down the money, Sutton seems to be the next-best candidate to pass Mr. Lochte for second place (after Mellouli). It will be tough though. Clary wins a lot of races, but he also doesn’t swim a lot, so it ‘s going to be hard for him to get into that cash-out position.