The 2013 Mesa Grand Prix will kick off on Thursday in Mesa, Arizona, where the new hosts are expecting a crowd of Olympians that will make this the first nearly-fully-attended big senior championship of the year in the United States.
Prelims start daily at 9 AM local time (Arizona is currently on West Coast time, so 9AM Arizona is Noon on the east coast).
Finals start daily at 5 PM local time (8PM on the east coast).
400 Free Relay
800 Free Relay
400 Medley Relay
Top 5 Races to Watch
There are a lot of great races to watch at this weekend’s Grand Prix, and almost every one is loaded with Olympians. The two biggest performers from the NCAA Championships, Kevin Cordes and Vlad Morozov, are both disappointingly not at this meet. That means that we won’t get to see how they carry to long course. There’s still plenty to watch, though, so here are our favorite storylines.
1. Matt Grevers: a Married Man – Matt Grevers and Annie
Chandler Grevers were wed last weekend in San Antonio. With Worlds trials just a few months away, though, Grevers doesn’t have a lot of time to relax and enjoy the married life, and is already back in the water. In the 100 backstroke, among other competitors he’ll go up against Ryan Murphy. Last year, Murphy was the best 18 & under male swimmer at the Olympic Trials. This year will be his big chance to build upon that success, and take a stab at perhaps making the World Championship team. As for Grevers, the defending Olympic backstroke champion, the Americans really need him to be a monster in the freestyles this year. The United States took only silver in the 400 free relay in London, behind France, and if the Aussies get their heads screwed on right, they’ll be hard to beat in Barcelona as well. With Phelps lost, somebody needs to step up in the 100 freestyle, if only for relays, and Grevers seems to be the best candidate right now. In the 100, he’ll face off with swimmers like Nathan Adrian, Garrett Weber-Gale, Ricky Berens, and top internationals like Nicolas Oliveira from Brazil and Darian Townsend from South Africa.
2. Breeja in Front of a Home Crowd – This will be Breeja Larson’s first opportunity to swim in front of her hometown of Mesa since becoming one of the world’s best breaststrokers. With Rebecca Soni taking the year off, Larson and Jessica Hardy are the United States’ options in the 100 for Barcelona. In the 200, a race in which Larson didn’t swim at the Olympics, neither Soni nor Olympic 200 partner Micah Lawrence are inscripted into this meet so far. That means at the top we get to see Laura Sogar, Caitlin Leverenz and Larson square off for the Mesa title. If you toss in Haley Spencer and Andrea Kropp (who are not at this meet), that’s the meat of the battle to go to Barcelona in the longer race. For what it’s worth, in short course, Larson’s 200 really improved in the last year. Then again, so did Sogar’s. We could see a couple of 2:26’s, at least, in that race.
3. Ryan Lochte vs. Tom Shields in the 100 Fly – Ryan Lochte, since all-but-declaring his intention to take this 100 fly more seriously at last year’s Olympic Trials, has held true to that. Since Omaha, he’s swum the 100 fly six times, and the 100 back (an event that used to be on his primary schedule) only twice. His results haven’t been great, going as low as 54.1 this year, but they never are this time of year. He’ll get a chance to race against some butterfly veterans in Mesa, which should continue to drive his experience in this new race. That includes Tom Shields, the NCAA Champion in the race who took the fall semester touring Europe and getting even more racing experience. Shields now needs to see what he can do about converting his underwaters into long course results. Also in this race will be Eugene Godsoe, who won the 100 fly in Austin; Bobby Bollier; Dan Madwed, and the Marcin’s Cieslak and Tarczynski. Joseph Schooling, the National High School Record holder, is seeded 8th.
4. Cal’s Monopoly Vs. Georgia’s Interruption – It looks like for the nth year in a row next season, the early favorites to contend for the women’s NCAA team championship will again be the Cal Golden Bears and the Georgia Bulldogs. The one spot, for at least two seasons, where it will be nearly impossible for anyone to compete with Cal’s output is the backstrokes, and that’s represented by three of the top four seeds in the 100 back at this meet being current or future Cal swimmers: Missy Franklin (HS senior), Rachel Bootsma (college freshman), and Liz Pelton (college freshman). Georgia, though will have an opportunity to at least soften the blow next year, as they bring in Olivia Smoliga, the 3rd seed at this meet, to mix-things-up with the Golden Bears. Still, though, Cal’s depth is sick; junior Cindy Tran is the 7th seed, for example. Have to wonder how Teri McKeever and her staff are going to manage all of those backstrokers, both in practice and in meets.
5. Katinka Going Krazy – Former USC Trojan, and current Hungarian international, Katinka Hosszu is entered in 9 events over three days. Normally, we would assume that this was just a swimmer over-subscribed who will then back off when the meet actually starts. When we’re talking Katinka, though, nothing is out of the realm of possibility. She’s entered in the following races (in order): 100 free, 400 free, 100 fly, 400 IM, 200 back, 200 fly, 100 back, 200 IM, and 800 free. That’s 3 races on day one, 2 races on day two, and four races on day three: bookended by the 200 fly and 800 free.