By Rebecca Noblett
ATHENS, Georgia, July 2. THE top teams on the East Coast are preparing for next weekend’s inaugural Athens Bulldog Grand Slam Swim Meet at the Gabrielsen Natatorium at the University of Georgia.
The meet has expanded from its original plan as an exclusive meet to fill the gap between June’s Grand Prix stop in Santa Clara and USA Swimming Nationals in August. Fourteen teams are currently participating, including Dynamo Swim Club, Swim Atlanta, SwimMAC, Bolles Swimming, North Baltimore Aquatic Club, and hosts Athens Bulldog Swim Club. The four-day meet will take place July 10-13 and follow a similar schedule to the Grand Prix meets.
Many of the meet’s expected attendees have ties to Athens and the University of Georgia. Former Georgia standouts Megan Romano and Shannon Vreeland are still training in Athens with Bulldog Swim Club. North Baltimore has three Bulldogs on their roster- former swimmer Allison Schmitt and current swimmers Chase Kalisz and Annie Zhu. Six members of Dynamo Swim Club will be making their way to the University of Georgia next year – Gunnar Bentz, Kylie Stewart, Basil Orr, and Mick, Jay, and Kevin Litherland.
The meet is also expected to boast many of USA Swimming’s top national team members. Michael Phelps is expected to swim in only his fourth meet after coming out of retirement. Phelps’ teammate Conor Dwyer will be looking to continue his momentum into nationals from winning the Arena Grand Prix Series. Ryan Lochte is expected to use this meet to return from a knee injury, along with SwimMAC and USA Swimming teammates Tyler Clary, Cullen Jones, and Micah Lawrence.
A preliminary psych sheet will be posted on Athens Bulldog Swim Club’s website tomorrow.