Wednesday, 6 April 2011
2011 Eric Namesnik Grand Prix, Michigan, April 8-10
This weekend's Michigan Grand Prix has a number of intriguing storylines to follow. Let's get straight to them:
Not an event to follow, but a swimmer. Nolan has single handedly destroyed the US Age Group record books in recent weeks. His 200 IM time at a high school meet last month, made him the fourth fastest ever in that event and would have won the NCAA Championship this year. It will be a moment to savour seeing a swimmer being touted as USA's next big thing swimming long course metres. He is down to swim a 'Phelpsian' 100 Fly, 200 IM, 100 Back, 100 Free and 200 Free. Whilst he might not be in the same shape he was last month, it will be great to see what he can do against some top international competition.
Women's 200 Free
Australia have shown their cards for this summer's 4 x 200 Free relay with six women under 1:58 in this event. The two nations that look to stand in the Aussies way this year are China and the US. The times at Chinese nationals weren't too intimidating, although they didn't have their strongest swimmers competing. Now its time to see what the relay picture looks like across the atlantic for this year and next.
The relay for Shanghai has already been set with three members competing in Michigan: Allison Schmitt, Katie Hoff and Jasmine Tosky. The other members of the team are Morgan Scroggy, Dana Vollmer and Dagny Knutson. Sadly we won't be seeing Missy Franklin at this competition (1:58.75 already in 2011), who could be the key to the US chances next year in this relay.
Swimmer to watch - Arianna Kukors - Swam 1:56.05 as well as a 1:55.18 relay split in 2009. Big time contender for the 4 x 200 relay next year.
Men's 200 Fly
Without trying to give too much away, Braden Keith, David Rieder and myself are in the process of completing a new roundtable discussion that includes this event. Michael Phelps, Wu Peng, Tyler Clary and Marcin Cieslak all feature in our roundtable discussion..... and in Michigan.
Swimmer to watch - Marcin Cieslak - Prodigous junior career in Europe, now trains in Florida and impressed at the recent NCAA Championships. (FYI - I've got a vested interest in Cieslak, he's my wildcard pick for 2012... don't let me down Marcin).
Women's 100 Back
With the emergence of Missy Franklin as a legitimate threat for Olympic gold in this event, its starting to look like a contest for the second spot on the team. Both Coughlin and Pelton (competing this weekend) were amongst just ten women in the world under 60 seconds last year.
Swimmer to watch - Madison White, just 16, the bronze medalist at Junior Pan Pacs last year where she swam 1:01.80 in the prelims.
Men's 100 Free
The 100 Free will certainly live up to its blue ribbon label in Michigan. The world's top sprinter Cesar Cielo goes up against the world's greatest ever swimmer, Michael Phelps, possibly the world's next great swimmer, David Nolan, the owner of the world's greatest ever relay leg, Jason Lezak and 2010's top swimmer, Ryan Lochte. Throw in a handful of international swimmers such as Ous Mellouli, Simon Burnett, Albert Subirats, Nicholas Santos and a strong domestic field led by Cullen Jones and Garrett Weber Gale and you get a stacked event (and two very long sentences).
Peter Vanderkaay - This meet will mark his return to Michigan.
Michael Phelps - Its not necessary to explain why seeing Phelps swim is a highlight.
Ryan Lochte - Its not necessary to explain why seeing Lochte swim is a highlight.
Ous Mellouli - In dynamite form so far this year.
Erik Risolvato - Gutsy move from the 17 year old entering himself in the 100 Fly with a world record time of 49.54. He pushes Michael Phelps down to the no.2 seed. You have to love that level of self-belief, just announcing to the world that there is a new kid in town.