Whilst this race should be about who finishes 2nd behind Phelps, it is stacked with enough talent to cause a potential upset. The real race should be between Phelps and Lochte, however I'm looking forward to see what sort of form Simon Burnett is in. Burnett hasn't been at his best since 2006, when he set the still standing U.S. Open 200yd Free record of 1:31.20. It would be great to see him back to that kind of form and with the Commonwealth Games coming up this year, he has a great chance to set himself up for London 2012 (the Olympic pool will be less than 40 miles away from where he grew up and trained in the UK). Hayden and Mellouli's performances will also be interesting, Hayden stepping up in distance and Mellouli coming down.
*Update* - Snow has caused the withdrawal of the entire NBAC squad including Michael Phelps. A real shame for the competition, hopefully no more swimmers have to withdraw.... on the plus side, this 200m Free just got a whole lot more open. Burnett's big chance to cause an upset?
Men's 100m/200m Breaststroke
Contenders - K. Kitajima, E. Shanteau
Its great that Kitajima is racing over in the US for a few months because we get to see great contests like this. It was a joy to see him go head to head with Mike Alexandrov at Long Beach, but this should be even better. Kitajima looked sharp last month at the SCY meet so has to go in as favourite for both races here. However, Shanteau was on fire last year at World's and amazingly now has a faster time over 200m than Kitajima. How much this was due to the suits will be discovered over the next few months, however its worth noting that Men's breaststroke WRs had the least percentage change from the suit era of all the strokes. If Kitajima and Shanteau are on form, expect both men's breaststroke races to be very close.... and hopefully very fast.
Womens 400m Free
Contenders - C. Sutton, T. Hunks, S. King, M. Klaren
I am particularly looking forward to seeing Chloe Sutton swim in the 400m Free (and 200m/800m/1500m Free for that matter). At the Long Beach SCY meet I was blown away by Sutton's 500yd Free race with Katie Hoff. Hoff destroyed Sutton on the turns, but Sutton was noticeably quicker between the walls. How that plays out with only 7 turns and a lot more swimming between the walls will be fascinating. Sutton had only just turned pro when Long Beach came around and dealt with the added exposure that brought admirably. I'm hoping that Sutton's gruelling schedule of 7 events at this meet doesn't affect some potential world leading swims. 2010 world leading times - 4:12.66 in the 400, 8:31.14 in the 800 Free and 16:41.39 in the 1500m Free.