For full coverage of the Arena Grand Prix — Mesa, including video interviews, full recaps, etc., check out our event coverage page.
PHOENIX, Arizona, April 15. BOTH the city of Mesa and Mesa Aquatics Club deserve a pat on the back for the Grand Prix they hosted this past weekend at the Skyline Aquatic Center.
Fortunately, the world-class athletes racing in the meet didn't mince words expressing their appreciation. Nearly half of the US London Olympic team was in attendance.
“I think this is probably my favorite Grand Prix,” said Missy Franklin, as reported by AZ Central's Jeff Metcalfe. “The pool, the facility is unbelievable. It's gorgeous. Just being outdoors gives meets such a different kind of relaxing feel to it. It's nice not to be cooped up. This area in Mesa is just gorgeous, and the hospitality here has been out of this world.”
“It's been an incredible meet,” said 100 backstroke winner Matt Grevers. “The fans are so great. [...] This is probably the best Grand Prix I've been to. I'm glad Arizona has a Grand Prix and hopefully we can keep it here.”
Mesa's Arena Grand Prix marks the first time since 1997 that a Grand Prix meet has been held in Arizona. The Phoenix Swim Club previously hosted Grand Prix meets in 1996 and 97.
Highlights from the meet included Katie Ledecky posting the fastest time in the world this year in the 800 freestyle. She was the standout swimmer on the women's side, winning the 200, 400 and 800 freestyle events. Her 8:20.64 800 free time is the fastest in the world by three seconds, while her 200 and 400 free times rank in the top five.
On the men's side, Tyler Clary tripled, winning the 200 back, 200 fly and 400 IM. Clary is likely to earn selection onto the world championship team in those events and challenge for medals in Barcelona.
Natalie Coughlin also had a breakout swim this weekend in the women's 50 freestyle. The 30 year old posted her first personal best in five years in the event, at a 24.90.
Natalie Coughlin talks to Swimming World TV after her 50 freestyle victory:
“Grand Prixs are special events for National team members and Olympians,” said Paul Smith, Mesa Aquatics CEO. “It brings those special athletes together. They often rise above times where they should be swimming. Just think of the record board next year. There are maybe five facilities out there with a 21.7 50 free (the time posted by Nathan Adrian to win the men's 50 freestyle).”
Read more reactions to the Mesa Arena Grand Prix at: www.azcentral.com/insiders/jeffmetcalfe