The 2012-2013 USA Swimming Grand Prix Series rolls into Orlando this coming weekend, February 14th-February 16th. We don’t know how much love will be in the air (nothing more romantic than chlorine and cap-hair).
First, the nuts-and-bolts of the matter:
- February 14th-16th, YMCA Aquatic Center (indoors)
- Full meet information here.
- Prelims: 9AM Eastern Time, Finals 6PM Eastern Time
- Live results
- Live broadcast
- Psych Sheets (now on at least a fourth version, so no guarantees of finality)
Ok, now it’s time for the fun stuff. First, let’s comment on the number of swimmers entered per event. In individual races, it varies wildly from in the 30’s for more grueling races (200 fly, 400 IM) up to in the 90’s, but on average, after scratches, will probably sit right around 50 swimmers per event, or 7 heats, with some more and some less. I think that sits right in the “balanced” range that most fans would like to see these races at – 6-10 heats in prelims.
This number strikes a good give-and-take where top high school swimmers are able to qualify for the meet, yet the event is still elite and an opportunity for the United States’ professional swimmers to race in a more professional, spaced-out environment.
The reason for the change since Austin, where at times we saw only 4 or 5 swimmers in an A-Final, is two-fold. One is that USA Swimming lightened the standards for qualifying, and did so with enough notice for swimmers to make reasonable plans to attend. Now that people saw how small the field was in Austin, they could be comfortable that they’d be able to swim in Orlando with just a “B” time.
Second, all of the nearby states will be done with their high school season. A quick glance over the psych sheets show large contingents from the states of Florida and Georgia (the latter of whom just finished last weekend, and will have some swimmers trying to capture their tapers).
Of the big high school swims of last weekend from a bit further away, only Missy Franklin will be swimming at this meet, with names like Jack Conger and Katie Ledecky holding off from getting back into racing that quickly.
Internationally, lots of different countries will be represented, and not just by swimmers who are technically foreign but train in the United States. The Canadians are sending a big group, including stars like Ryan Cochrane, Barbara Jardin, Sam Cheverton, Victoria Poon, Sandrine Mainville, and Blake Worsley, plus a host of young talent.
(YNote that you’ll have to ignore the ages of all of the Canadians…most of them are false. Unless I missed where Sam Cheverton earned her Ohio State degree at only 12 years old).
From the Continent (aka Europe), the biggest name coming over is Scottish/British swimmer Robbie Renwick, who was an Olympic finalist in the 200 free, finishing 6th. Germany’s Yannick Lebherz, their young National Record holder in the 400 IM, will also be at the meet, along with a big group of lesser-known Germans looking for the opportunity for good experience (including well-known names in that country like Felix Wolf).
From closer to home, Mexico is sending a strong contingent. That includes 16-year old freestyler Fernanda Richaud (56.31 in the 100 long course), distance swimmer Arturo Perez Vertti, and backstroke record holder Fernanda Gonzalez-Ramirez, who should be a finalist in both the 100 and the 200.
Mexico is just the tip-of-the-iceburg for Latin America, as Venezuela and Guatemala are among the other countries sending big squads.
And finally, a lone Oceanian, Australia’s Bobby Hurley will be at this meet. Hurley has been travelling all over, swimming every race he can get his hands on since the London Olympics, and with Australia having a fairly early Worlds qualifying, he should be starting to see at least some small gains as his yardage winds down (based on a traditional training pattern.)
And then there’s the Americans. Dana Vollmer will be making her post-Olympic debut. The usual suspects, Ryan Lochte and Missy Franklin will be there as well.
No Chloe Sutton at this meet, but Kate Ziegler is hopping down from Virginia. Lochte’s Gator Swim Club teammates Conor Dwyer, Arkady Vyatchanin (Russia), and Andreina Pinto (Venezuela).We’ll be back with a highlight of the best races to watch later this week. Wu Peng, Chinese-citizen but Club Wolverine-trained, also headlines the pseudo-international group, racing off against Auburn post-grad Tyler McGill.
A handful of other Olympians and National Team’ers will be there as well. Charlie Houchin, Michael Klueh, and Tyler Clary should really add some depth to the middle-distance races. No Nathan Adrian, but Tyler Reed, Josh Schneider, Steven Cebertowicz, and Anthony Ervin
For the local fans, a big thrill will come from the attendance of the Bolles squad that spent the fall crushing the National High School Record books, including Ryan Murphy, Joseph Schooling, and Caeleb Dressel. Another big group of Floridians will come up from Miami and the Davie Nadadores, including another National Age Group Record breaker Dylan Carter, who swims for Trinidad & Tobago internationally (but is a dual citizen). Along with him will come, among others, Brazil’s Felipe Lima.