By Sharon Robb

May 14, 2014

Michael Phelps, making his second appearance since returning to competitive swimming, heads an impressive field for the fifth stop of the Arena Grand Prix Series.

The 30th annual Arena Grand Prix will be held at the Mecklenburg County Aquatic Center in downtown Charlotte, N.C.

Phelps will see where his endurance is by competing in the 200-meter freestyle and 100-meter butterfly events on Friday. Phelps will go up against North Baltimore training mate and French star Yannick Agnel and Conor Dwyer.

Phelps will race Friday morning at 9:20 in the 200 freestyle and 10:30 a.m. in the 100 butterfly.

Neither Phelps nor his coach Bob Bowman have talked about any meet beyond Charlotte. Phelps has said he wants to be in top shape if he decides to compete in the U.S. Nationals in August, a meet that will determine the U.S. team for next year’s World Championships.

Floridian Ryan Lochte of SwimMAC will not compete in his club’s home meet.

Lochte is nursing an ailing left knee that was operated on after a freak mishap with a fan in November and is still experiencing pain in the knee. The 29-year-old has had several knee injuries throughout his career. He has been wearing a knee brace around Charlotte since the Arena Grand Prix Mesa, Ariz. meet where he was forced to pull out of the last session with a tight hamstring.

Lochte was entered in seven events for the Charlotte meet although he was not expected to swim all seven. He was going to compete against Phelps in both the freestyle and butterfly events.

“It’s definitely disappointing,” Lochte said. “I was really looking forward to swimming in Charlotte now that it’s my home in front of all the SwimMAC fans.”

Lochte continues to train and will be at the meet to support his SwimMAC teammates and sign autographs.

“We are going to exercise precautionary measures this weekend as his knee continues to bother him,” said Dr. Jason Batley of Team Elite in a prepared team statement. “We don’t want him to push through pain if that would be counterproductive to ongoing recovery. While we want him back quickly, we want him back safely as well.”

The women’s field will be led by Hungarian workhorse Katinka Hosszu. It will be Hosszu’s second Grand Prix appearance after winning four events and compiling 27 points in Orlando. The women’s field also features Allison Schmitt, Canadian Katerine Savard, Denmark’s Lotte Friis and Jessica Hardy.

In one of the races to watch, Hosszu will compete against Elizabeth Beisel of Bluefish Swim Club.

Several other Gainesville Swim Club swimmers are entered including Andreina Pinto, 22, Sebastien Rousseau, 23, and Arthur Frayler, 20.

Bolles’ Olympian Joseph Schooling, 18, will compete along with 16-year-old teammates Caio Batista and Omar Pinzon, 24. Florida Gold Coast swimmers from Pine Crest, Swim Fort Lauderdale and St. Andrew’s are entered. Luke Torres, 19, and Ryan Rosenbaum, 19, of Swim Fort Lauderdale will compete.

The Grand Prix Series men’s and women’s leaders are Dwyer with 34 points and Megan Romano with 30.5 points. Overall prize money of $150,000 is being awarded during the series. First place earns $500, second place $300 and third place $100.

The distance events, men’s 800-meter freestyle and women’s 1500-meter freestyle, open the meet on Thursday at 4 p.m. The remaining days prelims will begin at 9 a.m. and finals at 6 p.m. The meet will be live-streamed by USA Swimming.

The four-day meet will feature all four 50s stroke events in one grand prix meet. The 50-meter breaststroke, butterfly, backstroke and freestyle will all be held in one meet.

Sharon Robb can be reached at