Thus far at the 2011 edition of the FINA/Arena World Cup, the Americans have been buoyed by participants few-and-far betwen. In Dubai, it was breaststroker Nelson Westby. In Stockholm, it was butterflier Tyler McGill.
And now, in the 3rd stop, the cavalry arrives. Michael Phelps, Missy Franklin, and Allison Schmitt, who are three of the United States’ most elite swimmers, will lead a group of young talent who look to one day join them on the Olympic stage. Besides those three and McGill, the following swimmers will all be in attendance for the USA:
- Michael Phelps
- Tyler McGill
- Chase Kalisz
- Jacob Pebley
- Josh Prenot
- Missy Franklin
- Allison Schmitt
- Lia Neal
- Chelsea Chenault
- Hali Flickinger
- Andrea Kropp
There is a heavy Georgia Bulldog connection on this team, led by Schmitt (who’s redshirted and training with NBAC this year), and with Georgia commits Chase Kalisz and Hali Flickinger also in attendance. Don’t be surprised if there’s a little bit of subtle recruiting going on here that will give Georgia an advantage in the recruiting of the four youngest swimmers (Pebley and Prenot, and especially Neal and Chenault).
Michael Phelps will swim 6 events: the 100 free, the 200 free, the 200 back, the 100 fly, the 200 fly, and the 100 IM. If we dig too deeply into that event lineup (which you know we will!), it has to be a positive sign. He wouldn’t undertake such a strenuous lineup if the reports of his amped-up training weren’t true.
The best race for Phelps will probably be the 200 free, where he will show down with German arch-nemesis Paul Biedermann. He should also get a great push in the 200 fly from Japan’s Hidemasa Sano and South Africa’s Chad le Clos, who is the series points and money leader thus far. Poland’s Pawel Korzeniowski will also be very relevant in that race.
In the 100 IM, an event that he doesn’t swim all that often, Phelps will actually be a big underdog to Russia’s Sergei Fesikov and Australia’s Kenneth To, who have the youth mentality that usually does so well in the 100 IM.
Franklin’s event schedule will be much more compact, which is a deviation from her typical overloading at big meets. She will swim the 100/200 frees and the 100/200 backs. This appears to be her really honing in on the events that she will probably be swimming at the Olympic Trials. In the 200 free, she will have to battle her countrymate Schmitt, as well as Russian star Veronika Popova, who is due for a big short course season. The youngsters Neal and Chenault will also be in this race.
The men’s 100 free should be a great race. Including Phelps, the top seed, that race goes about 9-deep with bona fide stars, including Russians Nikita Lobintsev, Evgeny Lagunov, Sergei Fesikov, and Andrey Grechin. Canada’s Brent Hayden and Australia’s Matthew Abood will also be in the mix, as will the versatile Aussie To.
To has the most loaded schedule, with 10 entered individual events. I would be impressed if he ended up swimming all 10.
The men’s 100 fly should also be a very good field. Besides the two Americans at the top, Russian Record holder Evgeny Korotyshkin, Serbian Record holder Milorad Cavic (another Phelps Phoe), and Geoff Huegill will all be contending for the big cash prizes.
As we mentioned, South Africa’s Le Clos is leading the overall points standing in the series on the men’s side (in contention for $100,000), and has ratcheted back his schedule for this third meet. Whereas in the first two, he swam three events on each of the two days, it was clear that he faded by the end of the Stockholm meet where he had a similar level of competition. Now, he has dropped the 200 back and 100 IM (which were probably only on his schedule for the easy checks they earned him) to focus on his four primary races: the 100 fly, the 200 fly, the 200 IM, and the 400 IM. This is a wise decision, given that only a swimmers single best event from each meet counts towards the series standings.
The meet can be watched, both live and on-demand, through FINA TV at this link. Finals start each day at 5PM Moscow time, which is 9AM New York time and midnight Australia time.