ATLANTA, Georgia, November 15. WHEN the U.S. Short Course Nationals run from November 29-December 1 at the Georgia Tech Aquatic Center, some of the top names in the American arsenal will take part. Slated to lead the way are Michael Phelps and Natalie Coughlin, who combined for 13 medals at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.
Phelps, who recently suffered a minor wrist injury, will get the chance to show where he stands heading into next year's Olympic Trials in Omaha. The Club Wolverine star, of course, won seven gold medals earlier this year at the World Championships in Melbourne. As for Coughlin, she's coming off a sterling World Cup showing in the Pacific Rim, where she lowered her own world record in the short-course version of the 100-meter backstroke.
The sprint events should be particularly strong in Atlanta with the likes of Dara Torres, Gary Hall Jr., Ben Wildman-Tobriner and Cullen Jones on the roster of athletes scheduled to compete. Torres is aiming to make her fifth Olympic Team while Hall is the two-time defending Olympic champ in the 50-meter freestyle. Of course, Hall has Wildman-Tobriner and Jones to repel. Wildman-Tobriner is the reigning world champ in the 50 free.
Multi-event stars Ryan Lochte and Katie Hoff will be on hand in Atlanta and will bring a spark on an across-the-board basis. Another top name scheduled to race in the competition, which will serve as the selection meet for next year's Short Course World Champs, is Jessica Hardy, the reigning world champ in the 50 breaststroke.