SANTA CLARA, California, June 19. RIDING on a crest of excitement less than a week after winning the 10K national title, 16-year-old Becca Mann will step up to race in today’s 1500 freestyle to kick off the Santa Clara stop of the Arena Grand Prix.
Mann is the second seed in the event with a 16:08.86, which she swam in May at the Charlotte Grand Prix. Today’s fastest heat in the timed-final event will be a rematch with North Baltimore teammate Lotte Friis, who won the mile in Charlotte. Friis will be working on her race strategy for the European championships, where she’ll be the hot favorite in that event after posting the second-fastest time in history last year.
As for Mann, she is on target to qualify for pool events at the Pan Pacific championships, something no American swimmer has done. The Pan Pacs does not feature a 1500 free for women, but this will be a way for Mann to ease back into the much shorter distances that pool swimming provides.
Be on the lookout for Chloe Sutton in the fastest heat, as well as North Baltimore’s Gillian Ryan and NCAA champion Brittany MacLean.
In the men’s 800 free, Ryan Cochrane and Connor Jaeger will offer a preview of what could come in August when the two attend the Pan Pacific championships. There will not be a men’s 800 free at the meet, but the two will use this race to set up for the 1500 free later this weekend in Santa Clara. Michael McBroom, the world championship silver medalist in the 800 free, will be a major threat, as will Ous Mellouli, who is racing for the first time as a member of North Baltimore’s elite squad.
A few swimmers who raced at the open water nationals are on tap to swim tonight in the men’s 800 as well. Sean Ryan, who earned a spot on the Pan Pac open water roster by finishing third in the 10K, will swim the much shorter 800 free today. Ryan Feeley, who led the pack in the early stages of the 10K swim last week, is also in the fastest heat.
Along with Cochrane, Eric Hedlin will represent Canada in the fastest heat of the men’s 800 free. The field of talent in the men’s 800 free is so deep that the second-fastest heat has plenty of notable names. Matt McLean, Michael Klueh, Liam Egan, Aidan Burns and Kevin Litherland will provide plenty of excitement for the crowd.