MOSCOW, Russia, October 16. EIGHT American teenagers will wake up in a few hours to face some of the fastest swimmers in the first of a two-city tour as part of the FINA World Cup circuit. All eight of these swimmers had remarkable summers, with four of them swimming in the finals at the Olympic Trials. The remaining four also competed in the Olympic Trials, earning top 20 finishes.
Here's a quick dossier on the eight junior team swimmers, who will be coached by Dynamo Swim Club's Jason Turcotte:
Gunnar Bentz: Finished 12th in 400 IM at 2012 Olympic Trials; bronze medalist in 400 IM at junior Pan Pacific championships. Former national age group record holder in 200-yard and 200-meter breast. Swimming 400 IM, 100 IM, 200 free, 200 IM in Moscow. Swims for Dynamo Swim Club.
Michelle Cefal: Junior national champion in 100 and 200 butterfly. Swimming 50, 100 and 200 fly as well as 200 free and 200 back in Moscow. Verbally committed to attend Tennessee next fall. Swims for Tualatin Hills.
Kaitlyn Jones: Finished eighth in 200 backstroke at Olympic Trials; Silver medal in 200 back at junior Pan Pacific championships. Swimming 200 back, 200 IM, 400 IM in Moscow. Verbally committed to attend Virginia in the fall. Swims for Delaware Swim Club.
Celina Li: Sixth place in 200 IM at Olympic Trials; Second in 200 fly, third in 400 IM and 200 IM at junior Pan Pacific championships. Swimming 200 free and 200 IM in Moscow. Will attend UC-Berkeley next fall. Swims for Pleasanton Seahawks.
Becca Mann: Sixth in 400 free, fifth in 800 free, fifth in 400 IM at Olympic Trials; Broke 28-year-old national age group record in 800 free and eight-year-old NAG record in 400 IM in winning at junior Pan Pacific championships; Swimming 800 free, 200 fly, 400 IM in Moscow. Swims for Clearwater Aquatic Team.
Leah Smith: Won 400 and 800 free at junior Pan Pacific championships. Will swim100, 200 and 400 free in Moscow. Verbally committed to Virginia. Swims for JCC Sailfish.
Kylie Stewart: Fifth in 200 back, seventh in 100 back at Olympic Trials; First in 200 back, second in 100 back at junior Pan Pacific championships; Will swim 50, 100 and 200 back, 100, 200 and 400 free and 100 IM in Moscow. Swims for Dynamo Swim Club.
Allie Szekely: Won a swimoff for 17th place at Olympic Trials in 200 breast; Nearly broke Amanda Beard's 13-14 national age group record in 200 breaststroke at junior nationals, where she won both breaststrokes and both IMs; Won consolation final of 200 breast at junior Pan Pacific championships with fifth-fastest time of meet. Swimming 100 and 200 breast, 200 IM in Moscow. Swims for Central Bucks Swim Team.
In addition to these eight, three members of the U.S. national team will serve as mentors. Anthony Ervin and Tom Shields will be racing in their fourth World Cup meet, while this will be meet number two in the circuit for Jessica Hardy. Also attending the meet is Sean Mahoney, who has earned $1,000 so far.
The usual suspects from around the world will be in racing form in Moscow. Katinka Hosszu is likely to extend her overall points total, and could exceed $40,000 in earnings after the final event. The same holds true for Kenneth To, who continues to have a great meet and could exceed the $20,000 mark when the meet is over.
The meet will be held in the venue that hosted the swimming competition at the 1980 Summer Olympics, which was boycotted by the United States and its allies in protest of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Ervin took a photograph today from his hotel window of the outside of the venue:
The boycotted '80 Olympic Games pool seen from my window.instagr.am/p/Q2rICIMNNi/
– Anthony Ervin (@AnthonyErvin) October 16, 2012
Take a look at the heat sheets for day one in Moscow, and come back to swimmingworld.com beginning at 9 a.m. Eastern time for live recaps of finals!