Thursday, February 7, 2008

Olympic-level swimmers get ready for Missouri Grand Prix

Twenty Olympians, including eight-time Olympic medalist Michael Phelps (Baltimore, Md.) and four-time Olympian Dara Torres (Parkland, Fla.), are expected to compete at the Missouri Grand Prix, Feb. 15-18 at the Mizzou Aquatic Center in Columbia, Mo. The third stop in the 2007-2008 Toyota Grand Prix Series marks the first long course competition of 2008 for many of the top swimmers in the United States.

Ryan Lochte (Daytona Beach, Fla.) and the Texas trio of Aaron Peirsol (Irvine, Calif. / Longhorn), Brendan Hansen (Havertown, Pa. / Longhorn) and Ian Crocker (Portland, Maine /Longhorn), will also swim in Columbia. Lochte, Peirsol, Hansen and Crocker all hold individual world records in their specialty events. Rounding out the men’s field are Olympians Erik Vendt, Peter Vanderkaay, Mark Gangloff, Neil Walker, and Scott Usher, as well as 2008 Olympic hopefuls Davis Tarwater, Eric Shanteau, Jayme Cramer and Nick Brunelli.

In addition to Torres, five-time Olympic medalist Natalie Coughlin (Vallejo, Calif.), and world-record holders Katie Hoff (Towson, Md.) and Kate Ziegler (Great Falls, Va.) will headline the women’s field. Adding to the stacked women’s field in Missouri are Olympians Amanda Beard, Kaitlin Sandeno, Tara Kirk, Rachel Komisarz, Kara Lynn Joyce, Margaret Hoelzer and Carly Piper, and National Team members Kim Vandenberg, Mary Descenza, and Leila Vaziri.

Descenza (Naperville, Ill.) leads the overall medal count of the 2007-2008 Toyota Grand Prix Series (five gold, five silver, one bronze). The top scoring swimmer at the culmination of the eight-meet Toyota Grand Prix Series will be awarded $20,000, courtesy of Toyota and USA Swimming. A leaderboard can be found online at

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