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CHARLOTTE, North Carolina, May 17. THE final prelim session at the Arena Grand Prix in Charlotte will feature many athletes going for more wins – and in some cases, bigger paychecks – as they wrap up the 30th edition of the classic meet.
One of the people to watch will be Katinka Hosszu, gunning for her fifth and sixth wins of the week. She’s the fastest seed in the 200 IM and 200 backstroke, and will not likely face challenges in those events. As the reigning world champion in the 200 IM, she’ll put forth two strong performances in the morning as she has done in the past two prelim sessions. Melanie Margalis might be the toughest challenger, though she’ll be well behind Hosszu’s pace.
In the 200 back, Hosszu is lucky that Elizabeth Beisel is in tough training and not in the condition to approach world-leading times at this point in the season. However, Kathleen Baker of SwimMAC Carolina will fight to lock Hosszu out of the win. Baker won the silver medal in the 200 back at the junior world championships last year and has been doing very well all week. Look for Baker to wrap up the meet strong in her best event.
The top seed in the women’s 100 free is Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace, who will have a tougher time winning this event with Allison Schmitt, Megan Romano and Jessica Hardy in the event. Vanderpool-Wallace will race in heat seven against Romano, who has become known as the Jason Lezak of women’s racing. Also in the mix might be Amanda Weir, the American record holder.
The men’s 200 IM will be fun to watch tomorrow morning. At least 10 athletes have a chance to get into the A final, and strategy will come into play as everyone not only tries to conserve energy for the final while making sure they get a lane in the A final. Chase Kalisz and Conor Dwyer could be the top two qualifiers, though world championship bronze medalist Thiago Pereira will put on a show in one of his signature events. After a day off, Tyler Clary might feel fresher and get into the race. Andrew Seliskar, Joe Schooling, Kyle Whitaker, Steven Schmuhl, Dan Wallace and Sebastien Rousseau could also be in that final – or locked out into the B final.
The men’s 100 free is just as star-studded as today’s 50 free. Yannick Agnel has yet to swim in an A final in Charlotte, and could redeem himself in the sprint free. He’ll have the opportunity to gauge his progress in the shorter event against a lot of true sprinters. Josh Schneider, the winner of the 50, might find the 100 a bit too long, as will runner-up Bruno Fratus and third place finisher Kristian Gkolomeev. Dwyer has been doing well in the 100 free, and could do well in this event to set up a possible bid to be on the 400 free relay internationally this summer. Anthony Ervin and Cullen Jones are known for the 50 free but often put together enough endurance to hold on for 50 seconds or so.
Arkady Vyatchanin and Tyler Clary are the two top contenders in the 200 backstroke. Vyatchanin has the edge after a series of strong swims in previous Arena Grand Prix meets. Clary had a strong 200 back in Mesa and will be looking to improve on that at his new training base. Drew teDuits, Corey Main and Connor Green are names to watch for in prelims, though it’s hard to gauge their ability to put up fast times at this point in the season.
Prelims begin at 9 a.m. Eastern time. After the conclusion of the “B flight” of prelims, all but the fastest heats of the men’s 1500 and women’s 800 will be swum. Those swims are scheduled to begin at 12:36 p.m. local time. Click here to watch the live stream.