Arena Grand Prix – Mesa Day Two Finals Notebook: Here’s To the Swimmers Who Double

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Commentary by Jeff Commings

MESA, Arizona, April 25. I have always been impressed by swimmers who can take on tough doubles at an in-season meet and do very well. Not only are their bodies limping from hard training, but the jet lag of travel often sticks around long enough to be a factor in most of the swims.

Tonight at the Arena Grand Prix in Mesa, Ariz., the theme of the night was “Doing the Double.” Tyler Clary, Elizabeth Beisel, Michael Weiss and Megan Romano (who swam three races in finals) were some of those who had minutes in between races to regroup and show up behind the blocks again for a tough race, diving in with lactic acid still coursing through their muscles.

If there is to be one positive effect of Michael Phelps’ time in the sport, it’s the belief that the way to be a great swimmer is to not only excel in multiple events, but be able to race multiple times in one session. Missy Franklin has shown immense talent in that area, and Ryan Lochte does it often – though he said he wasn’t in the right physical condition to handle a 200 free-200 back double tonight.

Beisel has won my award for toughest swimmer. Not only did she do the 400 IM-200 back double tonight, but she’s entered in the 200 IM, 200 fly and 800 freestyle. Luckily, she only has to do the 800 once, but maybe the finish judge or one of the timers in her lane should be on standby to pull her out of the pool when she’s done.

Here’s an idea to keep the crowd entertained at the Arena Grand Prix meets. After each championship final, an actor (who knows how to swim) should put on some kind of comedy performance in the water. Think of him as a circus clown between acts. There’s such a deflation of energy after every swimming event, even the big-time competitions, that something is needed to keep the crowd smiling and energetic. At football and basketball games, the cheerleaders help with that. Swim meets need a circus clown, or scantily clad cheerleaders to the energy flowing.

Overheard: “You can definitely tell which swimmers don’t train outdoors every day.”