The 2014 Orlando Grand Prix is just around the corner; this meet is a Thursday-Sunday event hosted at the YMCA Aquatic Center in the sunshine state, one of the few places in the region that will have nice weather this weekend (highs in the upper 60’s).
With Europe still in winter (though, really, the temperatures there are not nearly as bad as they could be), and on average are seasonably warm), the Europeans have shown up big for this meet. Overall, as we mentioned when we posted the psych sheets, there’s in the neighborhood of 1,000 swims by international athletes entered for this meet.
This sets up some more unique storylines than we’ve had in past Grand Prixs, so we’ll try and focus on those (though we’ll certainly hit a few more traditional storylines to watch as well).
Live video: Available here.
Live results: Available here.
Prelims start at 9AM Eastern Time, finals at 6PM Eastern Time
1. What Can Katinka Do With Some Rest – USA Swimming rules limit athletes to no more than three individual events per day at the Grand Prix meets, with no more than seven total individual events over the course of the three-day Orlando Grand Prix. For Katinka Hosszu, that means less than half of the 16 races she swam last weekend in Luxembourg. This becomes really interesting, because we’ll now have a baseline comparison to use as sort of a ‘conversion factor’ between mega-schedule meets, and just kind-of-crazy schedule meets. In other words, we can take her results from 16-races-in-3-days last weekend, compare them to her results from 7-races-in-3-days in Orlando, and possibly the following meet, and see how the times race-by-race stack up. This meet will tell us more about how to interpret the actual times from these Hosszu mega-meet lineups that she takes on when we’re comparing them to what everyone expects to be her European Championships lineup later this year (maybe she’ll only do 9 or 10 races there…but then again, maybe not).
2. Germany’s Answer to Michael Andrew – Michael Andrew is a spectacular talent at 14, but he’s not the world’s only spectacular 14-year old talent. There’s a 14-year old German swimmer entered in the meet named Johannes Hintze. He’s not quite as versatile as his American counterpart, and not quite as fast in the sprints (23.83/52.58 in the 50 and 100 frees), but in the IM’s, the two will be a great matchup, if both stay entered (remember that Andrew way overentered the meet, and will have to scratch several races). Andrew is the 14th seed in the 200 IM in 2:05.13, and Hintzke is the 16th seed in 2:05.62. That means there won’t be a prelims showdown, but there’s a very good chance that they’ll match up in the evening.
Hintze is seeded much higher in the 400 IM (4:33.30), while Andrew is in with a 4:43.12.
3. Mark Weber Joins Speed Group at SwimMAC Carolina – Former Florida State All-American Mark Weber is the latest sprinter in the SwimMAC group, as he’s entered at this meet under the SwimMAC banner. Weber has only raced once since the summer, and that was a good performance at the Fastest Man in Texas event in short course yards. He had a great senior year in Tallahassee, swimming the four best times of his career, though he often flew under the radar with the best times of all four seasons of his college career coming at the ACC Championships and not the NCAA Championships. The 23-year old has the “feeling” of a guy who still has by far his best to come in swimming. Weber will swim the 50 and the 100 free, both of which he’s seeded in yards times.
4. Theresa Michalak, a Month Into her Florida Adventure – At some point, German swimmer Theresa Michalak is expected to join the University of Florida’s NCAA team. She’s listed on the roster, but despite having been training in Gainesville for a month, we still haven’t seen her race in the NCAA. She has, however, made the short drive to Orlando for the Grand Prix, where she’s entered in 8 races. In his latest interview, Florida head coach Gregg Troy alluded to the fact that they were still working through some eligibility issues for one female swimmer. He didn’t name that swimmer, but that could be Michalak. At any rate, both sides have been non-committal as to whether she’d swim this year throughout the process of her joining the team, so we may just be surprised when SEC entry lists come around.
5. Will Ryan Lochte Swim the 200 IM? – The whole Ryan-Lochte-SwimMAC storyline has been a little diluted by the Ryan-Lochte-injury storyline, so the key here is the 200 IM. If Lochte looks ok on the breaststroke leg of the 200 IM (if he does, in fact, end up swimming it), then we can be confident that he’s ‘all systems go’ for Pan Pacs. If not, the watch will be on for Mesa and Santa Clara beyond that.