This weekend’s LA Invite will feature a huge roster of national and international stars, including Olympic gold medalists Nathan Adrian and Matt Grevers among many others.
The 2015 LA Invite kicks off Thursday night (July 9, 2015) and runs through Sunday (July 12, 2015) at USC’s newly-remodeled Uytengsu Aquatic Center.
It’s no surprise, then, that most of the big names from the Trojan Swim Club will be competing, including many of the big professional group’s international stars. Russians Yulia Efimova and Vlad Morozov are two of the biggest names.
You can find the full psych sheets here, but we’ve pulled out 5 of the many storylines to follow below:
1. The hunt for the 2015-2016 National Team
We reported yesterday on USA Swimming’s selection procedures for next year’s National Team, and how limited event entries at Worlds could force some athletes to taper for a different meet to get top times in their best events. Sure enough, two of the four swimmers we pointed out as potentially needing a second taper meet will be in attendance at the LA Invite. They are national champion breaststroker Brendan McHugh and NCAA champion sprinter Margo Geer. Watch for both to potentially drop some big times in LA in hopes of ranking within the top 6 American swimmers by season’s end, rankings that would earn them National Team funding for next year.
2. Adrian vs Morozov vs Ervin in men’s sprints
The men’s 50 and 100 freestyles will be among the weekend’s best events, in large part due to the elite talent training at California’s sprint hubs of USC and Cal – Berkeley. Nathan Adrian is the defending Olympic gold medalist in the 100 free. He’ll clash with his teammate Anthony Ervin, the 2000 Olympic gold medalist in the 50 free who came out of retirement to make the 2012 U.S. Olympic team. But both men will have a tough young speedster to contend with in Russia’s Vlad Morozov, who trains at USC. Morozov is a multi-time world and European champ and currently holds the world’s #2 time in the 50 this season.
3. Simone Manuel gears up for Worlds
Stanford’s Simone Manuel is the hot new up-and-comer in the women’s sprints for the United States, coming off a college season in which she shattered the short course American record in the 100 free. She’ll have a big test this summer trying to help the American free relays keep up with the powerhouse Australians, and the LA Invite will be one of her last tune-ups before Kazan. Manuel will swim only one event this weekend, the 100 free, so keep an eye out for a big swim from a fresh Manuel.
4. Murphy set for longer lineup
Cal backstroker Ryan Murphy was another swimmer we mentioned in our coverage of National Team qualifying, as he’ll only swim the 200 back in Kazan and not the 100-meter distance. This weekend might be one of Murphy’s last chances to swim a more full event lineup, and he’ll take on both backstrokes and the 200 free. That 100 back sets up a marquee matchup with defending Olympic gold medalist Matt Grevers, clearly a great test for Murphy to see where he’s at in the event before focusing only on the 200 at Worlds.
5. DiRado heats up
Stanford’s Maya DiRado will also take a relatively light event load in LA, swimming only the 400 IM. But she’s been heating up lately, putting up some impressive swims at the Speedo Grand Challenge and following that up with a second-place finish in the 200 back at the Pro Swim Series Santa Clara. Her World Champs teammate Elizabeth Beisel has been very quiet the past few months, and while it’s likely Beisel’s fatigue will wear off by Worlds, DiRado’s role on the national team is becoming bigger and bigger. She’s the only American swimming both IMs in Kazan, and her 400 IM this weekend will be a great momentum-builder for those swims.
The start lists are loaded, and there’s no way we can mention all the big names. But here are just a few more names to keep track of when the meet kicks off Thursday night:
- 2014 national champ Tom Shields will be swimming both butterflys, looking to jumpstart another breakthrough summer like he had last year.
- Olympian Jessica Hardy is only entered in the 100 free, perhaps getting a swim in there before competing in the 100 and 200 breaststroke in Kazan.
- USC’s distance star Haley Anderson will lead the women’s 800 on opening night, along with Northwestern’s Jordan Wilimovsky in the men’s 1500. Wilimovsky is with Team Santa Monica, his new home as he redshirts next year in search of an Olympic berth.
- Arizona’s Bonnie Brandon will take on one of the most aggressive event lineups, swimming five different races. She’s seeded first in two of them, the 100 and 200 backs.
- Missouri breaststroking grad Sam Tierney is officially listed as “Unattached-CA” in the psych sheets, the first time he hasn’t represented Mizzou. That suggests he may have found a new post-grad training home after multiple All-America honors with the Tigers.
- Olympic gold medalist Conor Dwyer will swim just one event, the 100 free. That’s likely a tune-up for his leg on the 400 free relay at Worlds, as he’ll only swim the 200 free and 200 IM individually there.