American swimming superstar Ryan Lochte has been confirmed as a participant for the Bulldog Grand Slam meet from July 10th-July 13th at the University of Georgia’s Gabrielsen Natatorium. Both David Marsh, Lochte’s coach, and the meet organizers confirmed the decision. Marsh says that they haven’t decided yet just how much Lochte will race.
The meet, hosted by the Athens Bulldogs Swim Club, will feature a select, elite group of teams, and will once again have Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps, the two biggest names in men’s swimming, together at a meet.
Lochte was entered along with a large contingent from his SwimMAC team who plan to make the drive down from Charlotte for the meet, but originally meet organizers were not expecting him to participate.
Yesterday, however, the hosts received confirmation that Lochte was planning to swim, barring any unexpected setbacks between now and then.
Since an injury late last year that involved tearing ligaments in his knee following a run-in with a fan, Lochte has been up-and-down in his comeback swims. After the Orlando Grand Prix, he said he thought he came back too early; then in Mesa, he swam very well through two days, but pulled out of the last finals session with tightness in his hamstring.
With the U.S. National Championships, a qualifier for both 2014 Pan Pacs and 2015 Worlds, only now a month away, though, Lochte is in “now or never” territory. If he’s unable to race in Athens and recover in time for Nationals, then he’s effectively done with the big international competitions until at least the 2015 Pan Am Games, if not the Olympics (USA Swimming hasn’t officially posted selection procedures for those meets, but Worlds is expected to be chosen at this summer’s nationals as well).
If Lochte were locked out of Pan Pacs and Worlds, seeing what meet schedule he’d go after in the interim, once healthy, would be very interesting. Perhaps a trip to the World Cup could be in order, but that’s purely speculative at this point.