Preview by guest writer Julia Wilkinson-Minks (2008 & 2012 Canadian Olympian)
Although it is not a repeat of the star-stacked cast we saw swim at the Arena Grand Prix in Santa Clara, the competition at this weekend's TYR Fran Crippen Memorial Swim Meet is nothing to scoff at as even though many American superstars will be putting the finishing touches on their training as their World Championship Trials loom in the near future, a handful will be competing this weekend.
Among the Americans to watch, Chloe Sutton is entered in every freestyle event except for the 50. Her lineup includes both the 800-meter freestyle tonight and the 1500-meter freestyle on Sunday. Last summer Sutton became the first American to qualify for the Olympic team in both pool and open water events, and is clearly continuing to work on her versatility as a freestyler.
Last weekend's big winners, Caitlin Leverenz and Elizabeth Pelton will swim this weekend as well. Leverenz will compete in the 200-meter IM again, as well as the 100-meter butterfly and breaststroke. Much to my and many swim fans disappointment, Pelton will be sticking to her freestyle specialties–the 100 and 200-meter, as well as the 100-meter butterfly and breaststroke. After her record-shattering swim in the 200-yard backstroke at the 2013 NCAA Championships, combined with her sub one-minute 100-meter backstroke victory last weekend, I am absolutely itching to see what she is can do in the 200-meter backstroke this summer.
Some international squads will continue their California tour this weekend, including some Australian and Canadian Olympians. Emily Seebohm, the Olympic silver medalist in the 100-meter backstroke, is competing in a plethora of events: the 50, 100, and 200-meter freestyles, the 100 and 200-meter backstrokes, and the 200-meter IM. The two-time Olympian who celebrated her 21st birthday yesterday, is joined by 13 other Aussies, including last weekend's breaststroke silver medalist Samantha Marshall and fellow backstroker Brittany Elmslie.
There will also be a large group of Canadians, ranging from Olympic medalists to rising club stars. Ryan Cochrane is the one to watch, competing in four freestyle events: the 200, 400, 800 and 1500-meter freestyles. Cochrane has a bronze and silver medal in the 1500-meter freestyle from the Beijing and London Olympic Games respectively. Cochrane and his Victoria, British Columbia-based training group raced at the Santa Clara Grand Prix meet last weekend after coming back from a tough altitude camp in Arizona.
In terms of what he is expecting from himself, Cochrane indicated that these two weekends of racing are an integral training tool for his performances at the end of the summer: “After changing our focus this year to different aspects within our training, it's always exciting to start to apply new techniques within racing. That being said, with the World Championships coming up so soon, being ready for Barcelona is our number one goal.” The veteran Canadian will be put to the test this evening against 17-year-old Mack Horton of Australia. These two swimmers are the only milers entered with a time under the 15-minute barrier.
Cochrane will be joined by fellow Olympians and Victoria Academy of Swimming athletes Alexa Komarnycky, Hilary Caldwell, and Alec Page. Several Vancouver-based Olympians including Savannah King, as well as butterflyer Katerine Savard of Quebec City, will also be sporting the maple leaf cap in Mission Viejo this weekend.
With stacked schedules, it looks like this is going to be a tough training meet for many swimmers as they head down the final stretch towards taper. Although we won't see the wave of impressive swims from weekend, there is still a sprinkling of athletes with very impressive international resumes. When you have Olympic medalists in the pool, you can count on seeing some fast swimming.
Julia Wilkinson-Minks is a two-time Olympian for Canada and was a finalist in the 200-meter IM at the 2008 Beijing Games. In 2010, she became Texas A&M's first ever NCAA champion in swimming when she won the 100-yard freestyle. She graduated from Texas A&M with a degree in Speech Communication. Julia retired from competitive swimming following the London Olympic Games and now lives in Texas with her husband Shane.
Follow her on twitter @juliah2o