PHOENIX, Arizona, October 29. USA Swimming announced today that Olympic champions Ryan Lochte and Missy Franklin will be the headliners of a star-studded list of competitors next month at the first stop on the Grand Prix circuit at the University of Minnesota.
The meet, to be held November 9-11 in Minneapolis, will mark the first competition for Lochte and Franklin since the London Olympics. Franklin previously announced her intentions to swim in Minnesota during an interview on The Morning Swim Show.
Most of the top competitors at the meet will be using the Grand Prix as a tune-up for the short course world championships, which will be held one month later in Istanbul, Turkey. Some of those competing at worlds that are scheduled to appear in Minneapolis include 2008 Olympic gold medalist Garrett Weber-Gale, 2012 relay gold medalists Claire Donahue and Jimmy Feigen, and 2012 200 breast Olympic finalist Scott Weltz.
Dagny Knutson, who gave Swimming World her first interview about dealing with an eating disorder, will race for the first time in nearly a year. She has returned to her home state of North Dakota and has been training there while working toward recovery from the disorder.
Also bound to create some excitement is David Plummer, who trains in nearby Minnetonka. Plummer was a member of the 2011 world championships team and finished third in the 100 backstroke at the Olympic Trials.
The Minneapolis meet marks the only part of the 2012-2013 Grand Prix to take place this year. The series will continue in January in Austin, Texas, and also feature stops in Orlando, Fla.; Mesa, Ariz.; Charlotte, N.C.; and Santa Clara, Calif.
Michael Phelps won the last Grand Prix series overall prize of $20,000 for accumulating the most points over the course of the circuit. With Phelps in retirement, the race is on for a new face to collect the coveted prize. In 2011, Franklin was named the winner of the series but turned down the prize money to keep collegiate eligibility. Unlike the FINA World Cup, the USA Swimming Grand Prix overall winner is determined by the person who accumulates points from the most top-three finishes across all six meets. The World Cup offers points to swimmers based on the top performances at each meet according to the FINA points table, giving distance swimmers more opportunities to compete with sprinters who have more event options.