5 Swimmers to Watch at Arena Pro Swim Series Indianapolis

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Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

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By David Rieder.

In the heart of college championship season, this weekend will feature a little bit of long course action to break up the back-and-forth of short course yards. Plenty of Olympians will be in action this weekend at the Arena Pro Swim Series meet in Indianapolis.

By now, you might know some of the basics: Nathan Adrian will compete for the first time since the Olympics in Rio, and Adam Peaty will be in town along with a host of other British nationals. Even Ye Shiwen, the 2012 Olympic gold medalist in both IMs whose highest finish in Rio was eighth, will be in attendance.

But here are a few names you might have missed while scanning through the psych sheet.

1. Cullen Jones

Jul 14, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Cullen Jones of the United States before the men's 100m freestyle swimming preliminaries during the 2015 Pan Am Games at Pan Am Aquatics UTS Centre and Field House. Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports

Photo Courtesy: Rob Schumacher/USA Today Sports Images

You think it’s been awhile since Nathan Adrian was in the competition pool? It’s been even longer for Cullen Jones, who has not raced since finishing third in the 50 free at Olympic Trials in July. Jones, now 33—even if his birthday is actually Feb. 29—has returned to his alma mater, NC State, to train with sprint coach Todd DeSorbo and work on finishing his college degree. Jones explained that move in a November interview at Golden Goggles.

Jones’ first race back won’t be a walk in the park. Among those he’s racing in the 50 free: new training partner and Short Course World Champion Simonas Bilis, Adrian, Olympic finalist Bruno Fratus, Russian speedster Vlad Morozov and former NCAA champion Josh Schneider. Seeded further down the psych sheet (No. 80) is Peaty, at 24.88. (Sure, it’s not breaststroke, but hey, with those great athletes, you never know!)

2. Seth Stubblefield

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Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Unlike Jones, Seth Stubblefield has competed since finishing third at Olympic Trials (in his case, in the 100 fly). But only once: at the Nation’s Capital Winter Invitational two weeks ago, when he posted a time of 45.93 in the 100 free. Needless to say, the competition in Indy will be a step up from that.

At Trials, Stubblefield finished third in the 100 fly, four one-hundredths behind then-training partner Tom Shields, after coming into the final as the top seed. Since then, he’s gotten married. How much has he been training, and where? We’ll find out this weekend.

3. Cassidy Bayer

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Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Here we’ve got yet another third-place finisher from Olympic Trials. (Noticing a theme here?) But unlike the other two, Bayer had no plans for an extended break. Cassidy Bayer even swam at Junior Pan Pacs in late August, where she won a gold medal in the 200 fly. But the fall didn’t go so smoothly for the 17-year-old, as she explained at the Nation’s Capital Invitational in December.

Bayer tore the meniscus in her knee during a school activity, and that wiped out her entire fall of training and competition. Since then, she has competed sparingly at a few local NCAP meets, but the Indianapolis meet will be her first out-of-region competition and her first long course meet since Olympic Trials.

In her best event, the 200 fly, she will face off with the woman that finished one spot ahead of her at Olympic Trials, Hali Flickinger, and 100 fly Olympian Kelsi Worrell will also be in the field. So this meet should reveal plenty about Bayer’s progress in her comeback.

4. Ryosuke Irie

Photo Courtesy: Delly Carr

Photo Courtesy: Delly Carr

Ryosuke Irie swam at the Olympics, but he had a disappointing Games, finishing seventh in the 100 back and eighth in the 200 back. Seeking to change things up, he headed around the world to join coach David Marsh at Team Elite in Charlotte, N.C.

The early returns from Irie? Well, he swam at the NC Senior Champs (SCY) two weeks ago in Greensboro, winning the 100 back (46.91), 200 back (1:42.24) and 200 IM (1:46.98).

The competition in Indy will be a step up from that, with Xu JiayuJacob Pebley and Arkady Vyatchanin among the notable entries.

5. Mallory Comerford

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Photo Courtesy: Sara D. Davis, the ACC.com

Since last swimming long course at the U.S. Open in early August, Mallory Comerford has anchored two U.S. relays to Short Course World titles and moved to sixth all-time in the 100-yard free and eighth in history in the 200 free with impressive performances at the ACC championships.

But what can she do long course? Comerford has admitted that she’s still learning how to swim long course after never practicing in a 50-meter pool before coming to Louisville 18 months ago.

She is unlikely to be dropping any best times this weekend considering the Cardinals have come back up in training since ACCs, but getting close could be a good sign for improvement in the big pool going forward.

All commentaries are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Swimming World Magazine nor its staff.