Young swimmers in Florida had a tough decision this weekend about what meet to attend. On the one hand, in Orlando there are the NCSA Junior National Championships, a massive meet that has already seen one National Age Group Record on the first day of competition, and whispering has it could even see an American Record on Wednesday night in the 200 backstroke from Jack Conger.
But a few hours down the coast, in Ft. Lauderdale, the Florida Swimming Southern Zone Sectional meet will be going on at the Ft. Lauderdale Hall of Fame Aquatics Complex.
One-way-or-another, most of the country’s top swims are going to be in Florida this week (perfect for Spring Break).
This year’s Speedo Sectional Meet (the Brazilian site Blog do Coach has a psych sheet here) will bring in teams from all over the country, and all over the world. Among the big names there will be Ryan Lochte from the Gator Swim Club, and his fellow National Teamer Ryan Murphy with the majority of the Bolles School program: the country’s best high school club.
A contingent of Kiwis from New Zealand are expected at the meet, as is Brazil’s sprint King, and World Record holder, Cesar Cielo. He will be a huge draw in his first competition after having a minor knee surgery in the fall.
Cielo is expected to swim the 50 and 100 freestyles, his two primary events, but also will race a bit of a curveball: the 100 fly. He is the defending World Champion in the 50 fly, but the 100 is a whole different animal. He will likely see a showdown with Lochte in that race.
Some have questioned why Cielo would push a new event like the 100 fly in his first meet back from surgery; the theory could be that Cielo’s doctor’s have deemed him healthy enough to race, and it’s an important mental road-block to get over. Or, Cielo might be looking at it as his best chance for a 50 fly warmup, with no 50m stroke races at most American meets.
Cielo is in town with his new coach Scott Goodrich, who has taken over the lead on his training down in Brazil.
This should be a fun weekend of racing, and a great “crossover” opportunity for young swimmers to race against some of the best in the world.