2014 Charlotte Grand Prix: Links, storylines and more in your official SwimSwam preview

2014 Arena Grand Prix at Charlotte

Though it appears new SwimMAC-er Ryan Lochte will not be competing at his club’s home Grand Prix meet, the Charlotte stop of the Arena Grand Prix Circuit is still packed to the brim with big names, including Michael Phelps making the second appearance of his comeback tour and beefing up his event line-up some from the sprint-oriented slate he swam at Mesa last month.

But beyond Phelps, the meet will feature some extraordinary names. Katinka Hosszu makes her second Grand Prix appearance of the season after dominating the Orlando stop to the tune of four wins. North Baltimore’s whole crew is in town, including French superstar Yannick Agnel, U.S. Olympian Conor Dwyer, comeback kid Allison Schmitt and Danish distance freestyler Lotte Friis among others.

The rest of SwimMAC will be competing, with the home team putting out a lineup of Tyler Clary, Nick Thoman, Cullen Jones, Micah Lawrence and Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace.

Stanford pro Eugene Godsoe is making the trip across the country, as is breaststroker Mike Alexandrov, who trains out of USC. Then there’s international stars like Brazil’s Thiago Pereira and Bruno Fratus.

Needless to say, the list could go on and on. With just two Grand Prix events left, the best of the best are starting to come out to battle one another, setting up some intriguing storylines. You can read a few of the notable ones below.

Start Times

From Friday to Sunday, prelims will go off at 9:00 AM (Eastern Time) with finals at 6:00 PM. Thursday night’s distance events begin their timed finals session at 4:00 PM.

Other time zones:

  • U.S Central: 8AM/5PM
  • U.S. Mountain Time: 7AM/4PM
  • U.S. Pacific Time: 6AM/3PM
  • Paris, France (UTC+2): 3PM/12AM
  • Sydney, Australia (+10): 11PM/8AM
  • London, England (+1): 2PM/11PM
  • Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (-3): 10AM/7PM

Order of Events

Thursday:

1500 free (Women only)
800 free (Men only)

Friday:

200 free
100 breast
50 back
100 fly
400 IM
50 breast
400 free relay

Saturday:

200 fly
50 free
100 back
400 free
200 breast
50 fly
800 free relay

Sunday:

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

Current Grand Prix Points Standings:

Men:
1. Conor Dwyer 34
2. Michael McBroom 33
3. Arkady Vyatchanin 32
4. Yannick Agnel 27
5. Cesar Cielo/Tyler Clary 21

Women:
1. Megan Romano 30.5
2. Caitlin Leverenz 29
3. Katie Ledecky 28
4. Katinka Hosszu 27
5. Alia Atkinson/Allison Schmitt/Micah Lawrence 16

7 Storylines to Watch:

1. Michael Phelps takes the next step: Though the greatest Olympian of all-time got plenty of fanfare during his return to the pool in Mesa, his event line-up was pretty sparse. Phelps swam just two 100 flys and a single 50 fly over the weekend, showing some speed but not answering many questions about what events he might be targeting in his comeback effort. In Charlotte, the Baltimore Bullet is scheduled to swim the 200 free and 100 fly as a double on Friday. That should give us a chance to how close Phelps is to his old self, who could eat those tough doubles alive during his outstanding Olympic and World Championship runs.

2. Will we see another Hosszu rampage? Katinka Hosszu is currently 4th in overall Grand Prix points. But consider that all 27 of her points came in one single Grand Prix event, Orlando. The Hungarian machine won four events at that meet, adding two second-places and a third. She’s got another busy weekend scheduled: the 200 free, 400 IM, 200 fly, 100 back, 400 free, 200 IM and 200 back. Another Orlando-like performance could have the Iron Lady going home with a substantial paycheck, as well as a choke-hold on the series points lead.

3. NCAA superstars going pro: For the current crop of NCAA seniors, this will be one of the first official chances to earn money for swimming, as “going pro” prior would have lost them their college eligibility. There’s some big names here making their professional debuts: Elizabeth Beisel, Connor Jaeger, Sebastien Rousseau, Cody Miller, and Tim Phillips are just a few.

4. Sprinter’s paradise – 50s aplenty: Charlotte is the first Grand Prix meet to offer 50s of all four strokes, making it a great opportunity for sprinters (or wannabe sprinters) to show their stuff. The 50 races should be a great opportunity for fans to see what the playing field might look like for U.S. Nationals this summer, where 50s will also be included. Some of the best matchups: David Plummer vs. Nick Thoman in the men’s 50 back, Mike Alexandrov vs. Great Britain’s Christopher Steeples in the men’s 50 breast, and Claire Donahue vs. Canadian Katerine Savard in the women’s 50 fly.

5. Down to the wire in Grand Prix points: The Grand Prix Circuit keeps running points, which essentially double as a “top money-earners” list. Each event win yields $500 and 5 points, second place is worth $300 and 3, and third earns $100 and 1 point. The points standings have dual motivation. The first is status – a field of highly-competitive athletes is no doubt motivated by the chance to earn the title of 2013-2014 Grand Prix Circuit Champion. On the other hand, the top-finishing male and female in points wins a 1-year lease of a new BMW (though that prize can only go to U.S. citizens).

Currently, the races are very tight. Conor Dwyer leads Michael McBroom by a single point for the men. That race could interestingly come down to the difference between their event selections – Dwyer is much more versatile, but McBroom has been able to dominate the distance freestyle races as of late (though he’s taking this Grand Prix off). Meanwhile for the women, Megan Romano leads, while 2nd and 3rd place swimmers Caitlin Leverenz and Katie Ledecky will sit this Grand Prix out. Of course, Katinka Hosszu is always a threat to score huge points, so she could run away with this thing by the time the weekend is over.

6. Double distance: Keeping with the extended event lineup theme, Charlotte is also offering both distance freestyle races for men and women – so distance swimmers have the opportunity to compete in both the 800 and 1500 freestyles. This is probably most important for the women, who often miss out on opportunities to swim the 1500 in big-time competitions. Lotte Friis, Chloe Sutton and Becca Mann are a few of the top seeds in the women’s mile.

7. How about that 200 free? If you’re looking for a single event to hone in on, you could do worse than the men’s 200 free. Yannick Agnel is an insane talent, and he leads the field. But the event will also feature U.S. Olympians Conor Dwyer, Matt McLean and Charlie Houchin, along with college stars Michael Wynalda, Connor Jaeger, Mitch D’Arrigo, Sebastien Rousseau, Brazilian superstar Thiago Pereira and, of course, Michael Phelps.

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ED

Will Phelps be swimming Friday morning ?

ED – yes, he’s entered to swim then. Barring a last minute change of heart/injury, that’s when he’ll race (the only morning, in fact).

ED

Great. Thank you for the quick replay, just got tkt for the morning on Friday, so we’ll make the drive from Raleigh for it. Looks impressive line up.

We Love Phelps

seems like all the gold medal & finals sessions tix have sold out already. 🙁 🙁 🙁
Hope I could get at least 5 tix at door for friday’s prelims.

Sprintdude9000

I see Dan Wallace is still in; any update on his situation?

korn

if dan shows up, I am sure you will find him out and about after finals.

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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