Ryan Lochte

Stars were stars this weekend during the Austin Grand Prix at the Lee and Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Center. But no star had as big a weekend as Missy Franklin, who claimed four first-place finishes.

On Friday, Franklin got off on the right foot, winning the 100-meter free. But the night ultimately belonged to Nathan Adrian, who not only won the men’s 100-meter free, but also broke the pool record — which had been held since 1988 by Matt Biondi — by a tenth of a second.

On Saturday, Franklin owned the show, winning the 200-meter free and 200-meter backstroke. The 200-meter backstroke ended her night in a similar fashion to Adrian’s — with a pool record. Texas ex Ricky Berens also won an event, while Adrian won the splash-and-dash (nickname for the 50-meter free).

To round out the festivities Sunday, Ryan Lochte finally took gold. He swam away from his competition in his main event, the 200-meter medley. Franklin also capped off her grand prix, winning at least one event every day.

Texas-ex Karlee Bispo won twice, both times edging out Franklin in some of the tightest races of the evening. Current Longhorn Michael McBroom took first in the 1500-meter free, just like he did at Winter Nationals in November.

The next stop for the 2012-2013 Arena Grand Prix is Feb. 14-16 in Orlando, Fla.

For the second time in a two-month span, Olympic gold medalists Ryan Lochte and Missy Franklin will be swimming in Austin at the Lee and Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Center.

This time, though, it’s the Austin leg of the six-meet Arena Grand Prix Series which starts Friday and runs through Sunday. Other Olympians competing include Tyler Clary, Amanda Weir, Conor Dwyer, Chloe Sutton, Mark Gangloff and Kate Ziegler along with Longhorn Aquatics swimmers Ricky Berens, Garrett Weber-Gale and Jimmy Feigen.

Preliminary heats start at 9 a.m. each day, while finals begin at 6 p.m. Austin-based band Casino will perform Saturday from 4:30 to 6 p.m. to highlight the festivities.

The Arena Grand Prix Series gives the swimmers an opportunity to race against the best competition in the country to prepare for the 2013 Phillips 66 National Championships in Indianapolis, World University Games in Russia and the FINA World Championships in Spain.

Competition began at the AT&T Winter National Championship. Lochte stole the show with his performance.
Photo Credit: Ben Chesnut | Daily Texan Staff

Olympic stars lived up to the hype yesterday at day one of the AT&T Winter National Championships as they cleaned up, with a few exceptions, the rest of the field.

But it was Olympic gold medalist Ryan Lochte who stole the show. Whenever he was on the deck, one had a hard time distinguishing the difference between the swimming national championship and a Justin Bieber concert.

He looked to the crowd; hundreds of girls screamed. He waved; hundreds of girls screamed louder. And then to top it all off, after he won the 200 individual medley, his only event of the evening, Lochte tossed his gold medal into the middle of the screaming girls.

“It was awesome and fun,” freshman Jackie Aguillen, who caught Lochte’s medal, said. “[My friends and I] came out just to see him.”

Gold medalists Katie Ledecky (500 free), Jessica Hardy (50 free) and Matt Grevers (50 free) also won their respective events. London Olympics sweetheart Missy Franklin finished third in the 200 medley.

As for Texas swimmers, none had a better day than senior Michael McBroom, who came from behind in the 500 freestyle to win by less than half a second, drawing the loudest non-Lochte yells of the day.

“I knew I didn’t have as much speed going out as the other [competitors],” McBroom said. “I just wanted to stick with them and race the last 100 and 50 [yards] tough and come away with the pass. There were a lot of Texas fans and they let out a pretty good roar when I was up there which was cool because that doesn’t really happen at other meets.”

Four other Texas swimmers reached the finals on day one of competition: Kaitlin Pawlowicz (eighth, 500 freestyle), sophomore Kelsey LeNeave (fifth, 500 freestyle), senior Austin Surhoff (third, 200 medley), junior Ellen Lobb (seventh, 50 freestyle).

The championships resume Friday and Saturday with prelims starting at 9 a.m. and finals at 5 p.m.

If you have never been to a high-profile swimming competition, today is your day as past medalists and Olympic hopefuls pack the Lee and Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Center for the 2012 USA AT&T Winter National Championships.

That means many London Olympics stars such as Ryan Lochte, Missy Franklin, Nathan Adrian, Matt Grevers and Katie Ledecky will be competing alongside the best high school, NCAA and professional swimmers. Former Longhorns Ricky Berens, Jimmy Feigen and Garrett Weber-Gale, who are also Olympic medalists, will join them at the meet.

The midseason national championships, the biggest meet since the London Olympics, starts Thursday and runs through Saturday. Preliminaries each day start at 9 a.m. and the finals begin at 5 p.m. An all-session pass for the weekend’s events can be purchased at the door or online at the Longhorn Aquatics store. Texas students can purchase tickets at a reduced price.

“This is a fantastic opportunity to have nationals at our pool,” Carol Capitani, women’s swimming head coach, said. “It’s a great chance to really showcase our facility.”

The events Thursday include the 200 freestyle relay, 500 freestyle, 200 individual medley, 50 freestyle and 400 medley relay. Lochte, Franklin, Ledecky and many others will race Thursday.

Senior Dax Hill said he was excited to share the pool with Olympic medalists.

“No doubt, it’s a high atmosphere swim meet,” Hill said. “What you ultimately want is to get next to one of these guys in a race.”

Hill is one of a few Texas swimmers to keep an eye on this weekend. On the men’s side, Clay Youngquist, Michael McBroom, Kip Darmody and Hill have all won NCAA championships. Youngquist is ranked No. 1 in the NCAA for the 200 freestyle and No. 7 for the 500 freestyle, both of which will take place Thursday. On the women’s side, freshman Kaitlin Pawlowicz and all-American senior Laura Sogar — ranked in the Top 10 for the 100 and 200 breaststroke ­— have both been off to hot starts.

The championships can be watched by webcast at usaswimming.org or Sunday at 1 p.m. on NBC.

Printed on Thursday, November 29, 2012 as: Championship draws Olympians into Austin

USA Swimming Grand Prix

Hundreds of swimmers descended on the University of Texas last weekend for the Austin Grand Prix. This meet, which was hosted by USA Swimming at the Lee and Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Center, is one of seven national Grand Prix meets sponsored by the official US swimming organization which sponsors the Olympic team. Each swimmer who competes and places in the top three during the final heat receives points based on their performances. At the end of the series, the swimmer with the highest point total is crowned the Grand Prix Champion.

This weekend featured several prominent swimmers including Olympic stars Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte and Eric Shanteau along with Texas alumni Ricky Berens and Dave Walters. The Grand Prix marked an important milestone in the training schedule for all Olympic hopefuls. With the 2012 Olympic Games in London only a year and a half away, these athletes have already begun their preparation training.

Many different races took place featuring outstanding performances across the pool. Olympian Kathryn Hoff was also seen throughout the weekend along with several up-and-coming teenagers hoping for their time in the spotlight. Despite the immense amount of talent on the pool deck, it was evident who the crowd was there to see.

The cheers from fans packed into the grandstands drowned out the announcers as Michael Phelps stepped onto the starting block for the 200-meter individual medley. Approximately 10 years ago, a younger Phelps broke his first world record at the same place. He has since broken his own record; however, his time of 1:57.39 still stands as the pool record at the
swim center.

This race was highly anticipated all weekend because of the impressive line-up that was in attendance. Phelps was joined on the starting block by both Lochte and Shanteau, all Olympians attempting to make it
to London.

Phelps’ famous arm stretch and flapping preparation drew eyes momentarily away from the shocking hot pink Speedo that Lochte chose to race in. As the buzzer sounded, the crowd followed the progress of these two standouts as they charged through the water — both trying to prove something. Lochte was attempting to show that he has what it takes to stay on top of the swimming nation while Phelps was trying to show he has what it takes to rise again.

The event proved to be an exciting one as Lochte took the lead early on closely followed by Phelps through its entirety. In the end Lochte finished first, edging out Shanteau, who overtook Phelps during the breaststroke portion of the medley.
Lochte was positive about his progress throughout the weekend, especially after his performance in the 200-meter IM.

“[The meet] is good preparation for what’s coming later on,” Lochte said. “[It’s] a great stepping stone.”

While the weekend produced no surprise records or controversial finishes, the chance to see some of the best swimmers in the sport’s history so close to home was an incredible experience. The times turned in across the board, while a bit slower than eventually desired, were unbelievable.