PHOENIX, Arizona, November 10. THE first USA Swimming Grand Prix meet begins tomorrow morning in Minneapolis, with many of the top swimmers racing there.
It would take a long time to list all the big names scheduled to race this weekend, but suffice to say that most of the winners in each event will be seen in the Olympics next year. Of course Phelps and Lochte will be the headliners on the men’s side, but they’ll be joined by French teenager Yannick Agnel, Chinese 400 free Olympic silver medalist Zhang Lin and Brendan Hansen, who has become the biggest comeback story in the U.S. this year.
On the women’s side, Missy Franklin is coming off a short course world record in the 200 backstroke, and Rebecca Soni is competing for the first time since winning three golds at the world championships. Dara Torres is also back in competition, looking for the chance to make a sixth Olympic team. Again, there are so many more names on the psych sheet than we have time to list here, which will make this Grand Prix meet our first opportunity to see where everyone is on the road to the Olympic Trials and the Olympics. We’ll bring you recaps from all finals sessions on swimmingworld.com.
Wednesday was national letter of intent signing day in the United States, and hundreds of high school seniors officially committed to their college choices. In swimming, Cal got the top recruiting class on the women’s side, with Rachel Bootsma and Elizabeth Pelton ready to become Golden Bears next fall, in addition to four others. It’s hard to say which school got the most top male recruits, though Cal did land up-and-coming backstroker Jacob Pebley, and Georgia landed IMer Chase Kalisz, who should help the Bulldogs greatly in the 200 breast as well.
Stanford and Cal met up yesterday for a special unscored dual meet that didn’t have the importance of their annual February meet but showed us what their top stars can do in the middle of the week. The swimmers competed in 50s, 100s and 200s of the strokes, all three IM distances and a distance trio of 200, 500 and 1000. Stanford freshman David Nolan won the 100, 200 and 400 IMs, with Chad La Tourette winning the 500 and 1000 frees and Bobby Bollier winning the 100 and 200 butterfly. Cal’s Tom Shields won all three backstroke events narrowly over teammate Matias Gydesen, including an impressive 47.6 in the 100. Martin Liivamagi and Nolan Koon of Cal battled with Curtis Lovelace of Stanford in the breaststroke events, with Liivamagi posting the fastest overall time. You can see the recap of this meet on our college channel at swimmingworld.com.
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