USA Swimming has released psych sheets for next week’s Arena Pro Swim Series event in Mesa, and the big surprise is a somewhat heavier event lineup for returning star Michael Phelps.
This will be Phelps’ first competition since his suspension, sustained after a DUI last fall. The suspension ended earlier this week, and Phelps has long targeted Mesa as his comeback meet. Fittingly, this meet was also his first meet back from retirement last season.
While his 2014 Mesa meet was a very light event lineup, featuring just the 50 and 100 fly, Phelps will take on a much more aggressive lineup this year. He’s entered in 5 different races.
Though Phelps could (and probably will) scratch at least one of these events, his entries at least suggest events Phelps would consider racing during the latter half of his career.
He’s entered in the 100 free, 100 fly and 200 IM (little surprise on any of those three), but also entered the 100 back and 400 free.
Phelps toyed with the backstroke some last year, but the event is loaded in American swimming right now. Phelps is just the 5th seed, behind Olympic gold medalist Matt Grevers, Olympic silver medalist Nick Thoman, World Champs silver medalist David Plummer and former Russian Olympian Arkady Vyatchanin. Also in the hunt are Stanford pro Eugene Godsoe, California Golden Bear Jacob Pebley and Phelps’ old rival Ryan Lochte.
The 400 free is probably the most surprising event on Phelps schedule. According to USA Swimming, Phelps hasn’t competed in the race since 2009. It’s very possible he’ll scratch out, but it wouldn’t be completely against coach Bob Bowman‘s philosophy to have Phelps swim the race as a training event to improve his 100 or 200, where he stands a shot to make Olympic relays.
Outside of Phelps, almost all of the big names in American swimming will be here. Lochte will swim an almost identical schedule to Phelps (including that 400 free), but will also enter the 200 free. Series points leader Conor Dwyer will take on the 200 free, 400 IM, 400 free, 200 IM and 100 free.
Distance phenom Katie Ledecky is set to swim almost every freestyling distance: the 100, 200, 400, 800 and 1500 are on her schedule, plus the 400 IM, which is continually teased as a potential breakout event for Ledecky, though her focus is obviously on the freestyle races.
Women’s points leader Elizabeth Beisel is entered in the 200 free, 400 IM, 200 fly, 100 back, 400 free, 200 IM, 200 back and 800 free. She’ll have to drop at least one of those to get under the meet’s limit of 7 total events – the longer freestyle events seem likely possibilities. Beisel tends to swim those events for points and prize money when the meets are weaker in the distances, but with Ledecky and Lotte Friis both competing, Beisel’s best bet to maintain her points lead might be elsewhere.
Also entered is Hugary’s Katinka Hosszu, though there are no clues what she’ll end up swimming. Hosszu is entered in 14 different races. She’ll have to cut that number in half to get under the limit.
Several of the top swimmers from last month’s NCAAs are here as well. The biggest of those names include Louisville butterfly sensation Kelsi Worrell, Stanford sprint star Simone Manuel, Arizona breaststroking dominator Kevin Cordes and Virginia backstroking specialist Courtney Bartholomew.
This is far from an exhaustive list (these psych sheets are absolutely loaded), but here’s a look at where some of the biggest names are entered:
- Michael Phelps: 100 free, 100 fly, 200 IM, 100 back, 400 free
- Ryan Lochte: 200 free, 100 fly, 100 back, 400 free, 200 IM, 100 free
- Katie Ledecky: 1500 free, 200 free, 400 IM, 400 free, 100 free, 800 free
- Elizabeth Beisel: 200 free, 400 IM, 200 fly, 100 back, 400 free, 200 IM, 200 back, 800 free
- Conor Dwyer: 200 free, 400 IM, 400 free, 200 IM, 100 free
- Tyler Clary: 200 free, 400 IM, 200 fly, 400 free, 200 back, 1500 free
- Matt Grevers: 100 fly, 50 free, 100 back, 200 back, 100 free
- Katinka Hosszu: 1500 free, 200 free, 100 breast, 100 fly, 400 IM, 200 fly, 50 free, 100 back, 200 breast, 400 free, 200 IM, 200 back, 100 free, 800 free
- Lotte Friis: 200 free, 400 free, 800 free
- David Plummer: 100 back, 200 back
- Nick Thoman: 100 fly, 100 back, 200 back, 100 free
- Simone Manuel: 200 free, 50 free, 100 free, 400 free