USA Swimming has released the psych sheets for their 2013 Winter National Championships, a meet held in short course yards that is open to swimmers of any nationality, and on first glance it will be a mixed bag of stars present and stars absent. It certainly stacks up as the best meet in the United States since the World Championships.
Speaking to international-level swimmers, the stars of the event will be Missy Franklin and Katie Ledecky on the women’s side, and Nathan Adrian and Matt Grevers on the men’s side.
The meet runs from December 5th-7th in Knoxville at the University of Tennessee.
Franklin is entered in the 100, 200, and 500 yard freestyles, plus the 100 and 200 yard backstrokes. Including her, the women’s backstroke races will be among the most loaded events at this meet, as Cal undergrads take the top 4 seeds (Rachel Bootsma, Cindy Tran, Franklin, and Liz Pelton). They’ll be joined by Indiana sophomore Brooklyn Snodgrass, the 5th seed in the 100, in the backstroke races, as Cal and Indiana are two of the major college programs who will use this meet as their mid-season invite.
With a lot of interest in what Cal will do with their loaded backstroke group come NCAA’s, note that Bootsma is entered in the 100 and 200 fly, the 100 back, and the 200 IM individually, while Pelton is entered in the 100/200 back, the 100/200 free, and the 200 IM. Franklin is entered in the 100, 200, and 500 free, plus the 100 and 200 back, which gives rise to even further speculation that she may wind up swimming the 500 free as her first-day NCAA’s event.
Ledecky is entered into 8 races; she’s scheduled to swim the 100, 200, 500 and 1650 freestyles, along with the 200 and 400 IM, and the 100 and 200 butterflys. Ledecky showed at her first meet after the World Championships, the Delaware Swim Team’s First State Cup, that she has some versatility, and can swim yards quite well, so those IM races will be interesting, but the big story for her surrounds whether or not she will break American Records at the meet. Katie Hoff’s 500 free all-time best (4:30.47), 1650 free best (15:24.35), and depending on how much focus she puts on this meet Megan Romano’s 200 free best (1:41.21) are all in danger of going down, as are her own 15-16 National Age Group Records. Romano will not be at this meet to defend her mark.
Other teams with prodigious presence in Knoxville include the Michigan Wolverines, including stars like Connor Jaeger and Sean Fletcher on the undergrad side and Michael Klueh from their post-grad training group; Louisville and their defending NCAA 200 free champion Joao de Lucca, plus one of the season’s early star on the women’s side Tanja Kyllianen; Arizona State; Pitt; Villanova; Columbia; Cleveland State; and of course the hosts the Tennessee Volunteers.
SwimMAC Carolina will also have most of their post-grad group at the meet, including Dax Hill, Katie Meili, Micah Lawrence, Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace, and Eric Knight (no Kirsty Coventry entries, however). They’ll have some of their junior swimmers as well, including Kathleen Baker who is on the 2013 Duel in the Pool roster.
The Arizona-based South Africans, as always on the U.S. circuit, will be well-represented. That includes Roland Schoeman and Darian Townsend, who will give Adrian a good push in the sprint freestyles.
The women’s breaststrokes will be lightly participated in by the top American swimmers. There, three of the four women who have represented the U.S. internationally at Operation Gold meets in the last two years will not be in attendance (Rebecca Soni, who we haven’t seen since the Olympics but is still in the drug testing pool; Jessica Hardy, who is one of the few Duel in the Pool swimmers who won’t be at this meet; and Breeja Larson, whose Texas A&M team already went to its mid-season invite.)
There still, however, is more-than-enough in those races to make them interesting, including FINA World Cup star Alia Atkinson of Jamaica (she was 4th in the 100 at the Olympics); Tennessee’s Molly Hannis, who moved into the “rising star” category at last year’s championship season; the aforementioned SwimMAC post-grad Meili; Minnesota’s Haley Spencer who is a former NCAA Champion; and Cal’s Caitlin Leverenz, whose big events internationally are the IM’s, though she’s also a former NCAA breaststroke champion.
They’ll be classed by 2013 World Championship 200 breast bronze medalist Micah Lawrence, though she’s not quite as good in short course as she is in long course.
The NBAC crew will be absent, meaning no Agnel or Dwyer; Chloe Sutton and Ashley Twichell from the newly-expanded iX3 group will be there, though their training partner Charlie Houchin is in Brazil; and many of Ledecky’s NCAP teammates like Andrew Seliskar will also be at the meet.
And finally, 14-year old pro swimmer Michael Andrew, who is a threat to break a National Age Group Record every time he gets in the water, is entered in 6 races: the 50 free, the 100 back, the 100 fly, 100 breast, the 200 breast, and the 200 IM.