Hilton Head's James Hammond, Lilla Felix to swim in national meet

mmccombs@islandpacket.comJanuary 17, 2014 

Hilton Head Aquatics swimmers James Hammond and Lilla Felix will swim this weekend at the Arena Grand Prix event in Austin, Texas.

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Hilton Head Aquatics swimmers Lilla Felix and James Hammond are among more than 400 athletes competing this weekend at USA Swimming's Arena Grand Prix event at the University of Texas' Lee and Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Center in Austin, Texas.

The entire event will be live streamed online at usaswimming.org.

Felix, a 17-year-old junior who also swims for Hilton Head Island High, and Hammond, a 16-year-old junior at the Heritage Academy, reached the event by posting qualifying times last year. It's Felix's second national-level meet and the first for Hammond.

Among the other competitors are nearly 40 members of the USA Swimming national team, including American Olympic gold medalists Nathan Adrian, Tyler Clary, Natalie Coughlin, Anthony Ervin, Matt Grevers, Katie Ledecky and Allison Schmitt.

Olympic gold medalists from Germany, Canada and France will be competing, as well.

"There are very few Olympians not here," Hilton Head Aquatics coach Mike Lane said. "It's a tremendous opportunity to compete against the world's best."

Felix will swim in the 200 freestyle, 400 freestyle, 800 freestyle, 100 backstroke and 200 backstroke.

Hammond will compete in the 200 freestyle, 400 freestyle, 1500 freestyle, 200 backstroke, 200 butterfly and 400 individual medley.

Lane said there are 60-100 swimmers in every event. The top 32 advance to the championship heats and get to swim again, something no H2A swimmer has done.

"You're racing against the best, but there's always an outside shot," Lane said. "That would be something special."

USA Swimming Arena Grand Prix

When: Friday-Sunday

Where: Lee and Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Center, Austin, Texas

TV: 7 p.m. Friday, Universal Sports Network; 9 p.m. Saturday, Universal Sports Network (tape)

Live streaming: usaswimming.org

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