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Locals looking for Trials cuts at a star-studded Austin Grand Prix

By Bryan Flaherty

All the usual suspects will be in Austin, Texas this weekend, Jan. 13-15, including Michael Phelps, Missy Franklin, Ryan Lochte, Natalie Coughlin, and Brendan Hansen, at the Lee & Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Center located at the University of Texas.

Brendan Hansen competes in the Men's 4x100m Medley Relay during the Duel in the Pool at the Georgia Tech Aquatic Center on December 16 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Brendan Hansen competes in the Men's 4x100m Medley Relay during the Duel in the Pool at the Georgia Tech Aquatic Center on December 16 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

They’ll be competing at the second of seven Grand Prix Series long-course events, held by USA Swimming this year, giving swimmers additional chances at achieving their Olympic Trials qualifying times.

Local clubs, RMSC and Machine Aquatic, will be in attendance with members from their national teams, who are all looking to add to or make their first Trials cuts.

“We have ten swimmers within three-tenths of a second of a [Trials] cut time,” said Machine Head Coach Daniel Jacobs. “USA Swimming has been pushing the bar to get teams to compete in the Grand Prix Series. It’s great to get out here and see the country’s best competing.”

Getting her first taste at this level will be 13-year-old Suzanne Dolan, swimming for Machine. She will join the team’s headliners, Ryan Natal (17) and Ali Haufler (17), who are both gunning for their first Trials cuts.

Already qualified for Trials, RMSC’s Jack Conger (17) will be competing for several finals appearances, including “A” Finals in the 100 and 200 backstroke events. The reigning Boys’ All-Met Swimmer of the Year will be joined by the Girls’ Swimmer of the Year, Sarah Haase (17), who is looking to add to her list of events for Trials in June.

They’ll compete against marquee names who use these series as training meets, as they hone their race skills before the last push to Trials.

Phelps is entered in six events, including the 100 freestyle, where he will meet American sprint-star Nathan Adrian. Phelps is expected to mix up his events going into his fourth Olympics, and may add the 100 free to his repertoire at Trials this year. In 2008, Phelps competed in the event in order to secure a spot on the Men’s 4×100 freestyle relay.

The underlying story of the meet surrounds the “come-back kids” for this year’s Olympics, which include former area standout Ed Moses, alongside sprinter Anthony Ervin, Brendan Hansen, and Olympic legend Janet Evans.

Former Olympic gold medalist JanetEvans trains in Huntington Beach, Calif. (Chris Carlson/AP)

Former Olympic gold medalist JanetEvans trains in Huntington Beach, Calif. (Chris Carlson/AP)

If you’re not familiar with Evans, check out her biography page on her website. The four-time Olympic gold medalist is often considered the greatest American distance freestyler of all time.

Another long-time retiree, Moses is striving to get back to his 2000 form, documented in his Universal Sports series “Against the Tide.”

The furthest along in the group of former Olympians is Hansen, who had a brilliant Duel in the Pool, winning both the 100 and 200 breaststroke events. It won’t be easy for the 30-year-old, despite the overall weakness of American breaststrokers this year.

Eric Shanteau, who missed the finals of the 2008 Olympics in the 200 breaststroke, is still the best in the event, and he won’t give up that spot easily.

Few swimmers will be rested for this meet, with Trials such a long way off, but it should be exciting to see which American swimmers step up when they’re swimming next to the person challenging them for a coveted spot on the US Olympic team.

Full psych sheet is available here.

Watch the 2012 Austin Grand Prix live at USASwimming.org Friday through Sunday. Timeline available here.

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One Response to “Locals looking for Trials cuts at a star-studded Austin Grand Prix”

  1. MDSwimMom says:

    Happy to hear that live webcasts are available to watch at USASwimming.org. Was hoping to watch the NBC Universal Sports broadcasts but Verizon FiOS no longer Universal Sports since they converted to HD from OTA digital signal. Verizon needs to get its act together and pick up Universal Sports again before the Olympics so swim fans can watch Team USA compete.

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