Local preps step up to the big time vs. Phelps, Franklin

Recent high school graduates Andrew Liang from Palo Alto and Ally Howe from Sacred Heart Prep were among the nation's best in their respective events this past season. Next week, however, the competition goes up a notch for both.

Liang and Howe could go up against Olympic gold medalists and world recordholders Michael Phelps and Missy Franklin, respectively, at the Arena Grand Prix of Santa Clara.

Phelps and Franklin are expected to highlight a star-studded field for the final stop of USA Swimming's 2013-14 Arena Grand Prix Series. The four-day meet is slated for this Thursday through Sunday at the George F. Haines International Swim Center.

In addition to Franklin, who recently wrapped up her freshman season at Cal, a number of Bay Area standouts also are expected to compete. The lineup of Cal Olympians expected to swim in Santa Clara includes: Nathan Adrian, Rachel Bootsma, Natalie Coughlin, Anthony Ervin and Caitlin Leverenz.

Former and current Stanford swimmers expected to compete include the likes of 2013 FINA World Championships team members Eugene Godsoe, Maya DiRado and BJ Johnson. DiRado is the top seed in the women's 200 fly (2:08.28) and No. 2 in the 200 IM (2:12.26).

Recent Stanford grad Felicia Lee, meanwhile, is the top seed in the women's fly at 58.82. Stanford's David Nolan and Tom Kremer will help represent the men's team.

Other U.S. standouts slated to swim in Santa Clara include Olympic medalists Matt Grevers, Tyler Clary, Elizabeth Beisel, Conor Dwyer -- he tops the men's Arena Grand Prix Series standings -- Matt McLean and Allison Schmitt.

In total, more than 60 members of the USA Swimming National Team currently are slated to compete.

Liang and Howe will be among the many Palo Alto Stanford Aquatic (PASA) athletes competing, as well, along with St. Francis grad Curtis Ogren. All three will be attending Stanford in the fall.

Current Cal standout Rachael Acker from Gunn High also will be busy this week in a number of events.

The action begins Thursday with timed finals for distance events at 4 p.m. Competition Friday through Sunday features prelims starting at 9 a.m., followed by finals at 5 p.m.

Tickets are required for each session and can be ordered online at or purchased at the Swim Center store before or during the meet.

A live webcast of the entire meet will be streamed online Thursday through Sunday via

The Arena Grand Prix at Santa Clara is the sixth and final stop of USA Swimming's 2013-14 Arena Grand Prix Series, which provides the nation's best swimmers opportunity to face top-flight competition on U.S. soil.

— Palo Alto Online Sports/USA Swimming


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