After Day 1’s distance events, it’s time to really get into the heart of the meet. Among the second day highlights will be two Phelps-Lochte-Piersol Showdowns (in the 200 free and 100 fly), although there will be a mass of other stars looking to poke their noses in.
Winner-Dagny Knutson (ASK)
Runner-Up-Chloe Sutton (Mission Viejo)
Darkhorse-Sarah Henry (Raleigh Swimming)
I also Like-Missy Franklin (Colorado Stars), Allison Schmitt (Athens Bulldogs)
Comments-This race will have a huge amount of great story-lines to it. Knutson is fresh off of her announcement that she is decommitting from Auburn, which received a lot of scrutiny from the swimming community. Chloe Sutton made the decision to skip college earlier this season and go pro instead, and her success will perhaps lead Knutson to make the same decision. Missy Franklin, who is only 15, is likely to garner many comparisons to Knutson and Sutton over the next few years, due to her huge success in similar events at a young age. Allison Schmitt, who is the top seed, is a collegiate star, and a posterchild for the success that can be had in a collegiate program. The future of the event (Felicia Lee, Elizabeth Beisel, Liz Pelton, Lauren Driscoll) are lurking in the 10th-15th spots. Sarah Henry, a Texas A&M commit who received a prestigious 6-star recruit ranking from SwimmingWorld like Knutson and Sutton, is still working her way back from a brutal knee injury sustained while playing Ultimate Frisbee a week before last year’s UltraSwim. Henry is a fighter, and should be working her way back into elite form to make a run at the 2012 Olympics.
Winner-Rebecca Soni (Trojan Swim Club)
Runner-Up-Tera Van Beilen (Swim Ontario)
Darkhorse-Christine Wixted (Colorado Stars)
I also Like-Jillian Tyler (Minnesota)
Comments-Rebecca Soni, since completing an impressive collegiate career in 2009, has taken her performances to a whole new level. I don’t think anybody is going to touch her in either breaststroke event at this meet. Tera Van Beilen will be the first big splash made by an international swimmer in this meet. She is the current Canadian Age Group record holder in the 15-17 200 breaststroke, which she set a year ago. Wixtel, at the up-and-coming Colorado Stars program, has a lot of potential and should do very well in this race. Tyler is one of those swimmers that seems to have the experience of a swimmer 4 or 5 years older than her, and she can never be counted out.
Winner-Natalie Coughlin (California)
Runner-Up-Felicia Lee (NBAC)
Darkhorse-Jemma Lowe (University of Florida)
I also Like-Sarah Henry (Raleigh Swimming), Lauren Smart (SwimMAC)
Comments-The two top seeds in this event (Coughlin, Lee) are 10 years apart. Lee has been swimming extremely well during this year’s Grand Prix, but I still like Coughlin’s experience to carry her to the win. Lowe was huge for the Gators on their national championship run this year, and will be their leader in a bid to defend next season. She is riding a high right now, and I expect that to carry her to a fantastic finish.
Winner-Elizabeth Beisel (Bluefish)
Runner-Up-Dagny Knutson (ASK)
Darkhorse-Claire Crippen (Germantown)
I also Like-Justine Mueller (SwimMAC), Teresa Crippen (Germantown)
Comments-This event will be between Beisel and Knutson, in some order, but I like Beisel to take it. The Crippens are like the female version of the Vanderkaays, with 4 girls who all swam in college (including 2000 Olympian older sister Maddy). Teresa gets more publicity as part of Florida’s National Championship squad, but Claire, who swims at Virginia, is also a very good 400 IM’er. After this meet, she’ll be getting a lot more national attention.
Winner-Michael Phelps (NBAC)
Runner-Up-Ricky Berens (Longhorn Aquatics)
Darkhorse-Connor Dwyer (Gator Swim Club)
I also Like-Scot Robinson (New South)
Comments-This will be Phelps’ first event of the meet, and I think he takes it. Ryan Lochte is a bit of an unknown in this meet, as he has struggled with his break-dancing injury this Grand Prix season. Old college rivalries will be renewed, as the top 17 seeds will feature 6 swimmers (including Phelps) with ties to the University of Michigan, and three swimmers with ties to the Univesrity of Texas. Dwyer had a great NCAA meet, but has yet to make a big mark on an international level. That should begin to change with this meet.
Winner-Mark Gangloff (Auburn)
Runner-Up-Scott Spann (NBAC)
Darkhorse-Nelson Westby (SwimMAC)
I also Like-Robert Holderness (Seminole Aquatics)
Comments-Shanteau is the top seed, but I just haven’t felt great about his swims this season so far. Spann is now training with NBAC, and I expect to see some improvements from him already. Westby is swimming in his home pool in front of a home crowd, and should get a huge boost from the loads of community support that this event always sees.
Winner-Michael Phelps (NBAC)
Runner-Up-Mark Dylla (UGA)
Darkhorse-Eugene Godsoe (SwimMAC)
I also Like-Josh Schneider (SwimMAC)
Comments-This is Phelps’ event, and with Lochte still feeling lingering effects of his injury, I think he will take the win. We haven’t seen much of the great one this year, as he scratched his two previous Grand Prix engagements. Tyler McGill had a good, but not great, senior season at Auburn, and although he’s the number 2 seed, I’m not sure he can challenge Phelps. Dylla is likely still hot after his questionable DQ at NCAA’s, and will use this burn to grab a secon place finish. Godsoe and Schneider are both coming off of incredible collegiate seasons, and should be in the mix.
Winner-Alex Vanderkaay (Club Wolverine)
Runner-Up-Andrew Ford (Swim Ontario)
Darkhorse-Alex Gianino (Badger Swim Club)
I also Like-Todd Patrick (NBAC), Brennan Morris (NBAC)
Comments-This one goes as chalk, with another Vanderkaay on top of the medal stand. Ford performed very well at the Austin Grand Prix, especially in the 200 IM, and should be very good in this 400. Gianino, a North Carolina signee, is slowly, but surely, becoming a well-known name in the swimming community.