The release of the psych sheets for next week’s United States National Championships took place earlier today and shed some light on what we can expect in Indianapolis. Although there will be some scratches and changes in the coming days, here’s a quick look at some of the things which stood out – at least on paper.
Men’s 100m freestyle
The field for the men’s 100 freestyle is absolutely loaded, headlined by Olympic champion Nathan Adrian. Of the top 10 seeds – Adrian, Cullen Jones, Jimmy Feigen, Matt Grevers, Ricky Berens, Garrett Weber-Gale, Anthony Ervin, Josh Schneider and Conor Dwyer – only Schneider is a non-Olympian. Ervin is probably the most intriguing name, as the former world champ in the event has shown some signs of a big 100 free to come.
SwimVortex has learned Ryan Lochte will be racing the 400 individual medley despite the interruptions to his training this year while filming his reality TV show and tending to other demands for his time. The Olympic champ in the event, Lochte vowed never to race the 400 IM again, but obviously had a change in heart.
Becca Mann’s name can be found all over the psych sheet. Already bound for the World Championships in the open-water realm, the 15-year-old has the ability to nail down a pool berth, too. Look for the 200 butterfly, 800 freestyle and 1500 freestyle as her best opportunities.
The Pretenders Prepare to Step Up
You have to love the look of the men’s 200 backstroke. In Ryan Lochte and Tyler Clary, the United States boasts veteran talents and Olympic champions in the event. Right below them on the psych sheet are the names of Jack Conger and Ryan Murphy, the most-frequently mentioned names when it comes to future stars for the United States.
It was on the way, but there is still something unique about seeing the 50-meter stroke events listed. This summer marks the first time the United States is holding competition for those spots at the World Champs, rather than appoint athletes who qualified from the 100-meter distances, or from another place on the roster. Does Mark Gangloff have another Team USA bid in his future? While Kevin Cordes is the focus of much of the breaststroke talk, Gangloff and his speed will be difficult to handle in the 50 breaststroke. Also look for the 31-year-old veteran to battle for a berth in the 100 breast.
Was holding out hope Natalie Coughlin might pursue a World Champs slot in the 50 backstroke, but her name is not listed in the event. Oh well. Coughlin is placing her focus on the 50 and 100 freestyle, and her presence on the American squad would be huge from a leadership standpoint.
Missy’s mission – old and new
Assuming Missy Franklin, the reigning Olympic champ, takes the top spot, a phenomenal showdown is set up for the second position in the women’s 100 backstroke between Rachel Bootsma, Olivia Smoliga, Elizabeth Pelton and Megan Romano.
On the final day of competition, it will be interesting to see what Missy Franklin can generate in the 200 individual medley, where Caitlin Leverenz and Elizabeth Pelton – her future Cal teammates – are favored to qualify for the World Champs. Franklin will have nothing to lose, as the race does not conflict with anything else on her schedule.
Next teenage test
At last summer’s Olympic Trials, Allie Szekely endeared herself to fans and media by winning a swimoff in the 200 breaststroke. Could she again be a headline-grabber? The 15-year-old is the fifth seed in the 200 breast and earning a spot in a relatively wide-open final would make for more hoopla.
The Missing Man
The absence of Michael Phelps’ name just doesn’t look right, but we better get used to it. We were spoiled.