USA Swimming has released the psych sheets for the 2015 Arena Pro Swim Series at Santa Clara, which begins Thursday, June 18th and runs through Sunday, June 21st.
This meet will conclude the 2015 series, meaning that overall titles, two $10,000 bonus checks, and a year’s lease on two BMW’s are on the line in addition to the usual cash purses.
Conor Dwyer has a commanding 21-point lead ahead of Tyler Clary in the men’s standings for that award, and Katinka Hosszu is 24 points clear of American Caitlin Leverenz. With both Dwyer and Hosszu at this meet, their leads are almost insurmountable (and truthfully, they’d be hard to catch even if they weren’t present).
But, because Hosszu isn’t American, she’s not eligible for the BMW. That leaves a very heated battle between Leverenz and Elizabeth Beisel for the auto lease; Leverenz enters the meet with 39 points to Beisel’s 39.5.
As always when he swims, all eyes will be focused on Michael Phelps. After a performance in Charlotte that left him disappointed in himself,
Phelps will once again enter 5 events in Santa Clara, but he’s made an interesting swap. He dropped the 100 fly, which has been his best event since his return from retirement last year, for the 200 backstroke, an event where he’s had some success historically but one that’s not typically thought of in his primary schedule.
Phelps will again race the 200 fly – an event that he dominated for so long, but one that he didn’t challenge in his first comeback in 2014 before a 6-month suspension.
Ryan Lochte isn’t entered in this year’s Santa Clara Grand Prix, nor is Katie Ledecky (the former is more surprising than the latter).
Aside from those two, most of the expected names will be at the meet, including Missy Franklin. This will be Franklin’s professional debut and the first in which she will have no NCAA amateurism rules governing her acceptance of prize money. She hasn’t raced since the NCAA Championships in March.
That also means that this will be Franklin’s first meet since returning to training under Todd Schmitz with the Colorado Stars, the team with which she first rose to prominence as a prep swimmer.
Franklin will swim a fairly expected schedule, with entries in the 50, 100 and 200 backstrokes, as well as the 100 and 200 freestyles.
Also making her major pro debut is former Wisconsin All-American Ivy Martin, who has completed her NCAA eligibility. Martin quietly swam well at a long course dual between unofficial Minnesota and Wisconsin squads in May (25.52 in the 50 free), but she’ll now see a major step up in competition. In the 50 free, which is her specialty event, she’ll be the 3rd seed behind defending NCAA Champion Simone Manuel, and the Netherlands’ Femke Heemskerk (a noteworthy entrant in this meet as well). Also racing there will be Natalie Coughlin, Margo Geer, Katinka Hosszu, and Jessica Hardy.
Felicia Lee who trains nearby at Stanford, will be an interesting storyline. Lee took a big competition break between the BHP Aquatic Super Series in January and the Mesa Grand Prix, and then again didn’t race for a month before the Speedo Grand Challenge in late May.
She’s performed fairly well in limited action, however, and enters the meet as the top seed in the women’s 100 fly. She’ll be challenged hard in that race, though, by the likes of Brazil’s best Daynara de Paula, the always-ready Katinka Hosszu, and Cal All-American Farida Osman.
With none of her primary American competition (Kendyl Stewart, Katie McLaughlin, Claire Donahue, Kelsi Worrell, among others) for spots on the Olympic team present, Lee will have a chance to build some confidence in that race – one that is wide open heading into next year’s Olympic Trials.
While we’ll have a full preview out next week, one last schedule we’ll highlight is that of Natalie Coughlin. She used time trials to soften her schedule some in Charlotte, but she’s entered in four races in Santa Clara: the 50 and 100 backstroke, and the 50 and 100 freestyles.