Arena Grand Prix – Charlotte editorial coverage is proudly sponsored by Arena USA. Visit ArenaUSA.com for more information on our sponsor. For all the latest coverage, check out our event coverage page.
Commentary by Jeff Commings
CHARLOTTE, North Carolina, May 16. CONOR Dwyer must feel like Ryan Lochte did many years ago. Though he’s been a prominent name on the national and international scene for about four years, I get the sense Dwyer is swimming in someone’s shadow.
In the years before the 2012 Olympics, he was never able to fully break through in the 200 free, with Lochte and Michael Phelps hogging the top two spots. Once Phelps retired in 2012, Dwyer made a move up the rankings, but hadn’t been able to make a move up the rankings and become the nation’s best in the event.
That sort of changed last year, when Dwyer beat Lochte at the world championships in the 200 free. Dwyer won a silver, while Lochte was fourth. I wish Dwyer had swum the 200 free at the Arena Grand Prix in Mesa, to see how he would have stacked up against Lochte.
No matter. Dwyer’s 1:47.86 tonight in Charlotte spoke volumes. It’s true that Dwyer had little competition tonight (save for a closing rush by training partner Matt McLean) with Lochte out of the meet, Phelps scratching the event and Yannick Agnel disqualified for a false start. It gave Dwyer some time to step out of the shadow, and I have a feeling he won’t be an also-ran anymore.
Charlotte is celebrating its 30th year of hosting this meet, which had been known as the Charlotte UltraSwim for many, many years. I would have thought the crowd would have been more supportive of swimming, but from my vantage point (a computer screen), Mesa is still winning the award for most spirited audience at an Arena Grand Prix so far.
They were cheering loudly for lots of swimmers and the volume was almost deafening when Michael Phelps swam. Not so much tonight, though maybe the anticipation of him swimming is a little diluted since this was his second meet back, and not the much-hyped return that took place in Mesa. Either way, I hope the fans can show more support for the swimmers in the pool. It’s not easy for many of them to race this weekend, since they’re in the middle of heavy training and would prefer to be in their own beds.
Swim of the day: Dwyer’s win in the 200 free. Katinka Hosszu’s 200 free/400 IM double is a close second, but swimming so well in those events doesn’t surprise me much, since swimming fast in multiple races in one session has been her modus operandi for a couple of years now. Props for breaking the Hungarian national record, though, in that 200 freestyle!