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Burch to rub shoulders with Phelps and Lochte

Roy-Allan Burch, the Bermuda swimmer, will be keen to lower his times at next week's star-studded Arena Grand Prix at Charlotte.

The Commonwealth Games medal hopeful is competing on the long course in the 50 and 100 metres freestyle at next week's event, which will also showcase Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte, the United States Olympic gold medallists

Burch, who holds the national records in both events, impressed at last month's Mesa Grand Prix in Arizona where he met the World Championships B standard in the 50 freestyle after touching the wall in 22.99 en route to qualifying for the B final which he won.

Even though the SwimMac Carolina swimmer's time was outside of his Bermuda long course record of 22.47 that he achieved at the 2012 London Olympics, it was one of the fastest he has swam over the distance this year.

Now he is aiming to go even faster in his signature event in Charlotte next week.

“Getting my time down next week will be important to really help me project what I will be able to do at Commonwealth Games,” Burch said. “So getting down to a 22.7 or 22.6 next week will really be exciting for me going into the summer.

“I am really looking forward to it (Arena Grand Prix) because I had a pretty good weekend when I was in Arizona. In the 50 free I was able to swim under the World Championships B class again, so I am looking to get down to the ‘A' cut this summer and be a real contender.

“At this point I have enough training and I am strong enough to do what it takes. My mental preparations and fine tuning and being comfortable with my guidance going into the Commonwealth Games will be what makes the difference.”

The Arena Grand Prix will be held May 15 to 18 at the Mecklenburg County Aquatic Centre in Charlotte.

Other multiple United States Olympic medallists expected to compete include Elizabeth Beisel, Anthony Ervin, Jessica Hardy and Cullen Jones to name a few.

One of the highlights of the upcoming event could potentially see 18-times Olympic gold medallist Phelps face off with Burch's SwimMac teammate and 11-time Olympic gold medallist Lochte.

Phelps finished second to Lochte in the final of the 100 butterfly at last month's Mesa Grand Prix on his comeback from a 20-month retirement.

“Their rivalry definitely draws more attention to the pool, which is helpful,” Burch said. “Any extra attention around the pool can be beneficial for the rest of the swimmers.”

Burch said he was not surprised in the least to see Phelps come out of retirement.

“I never thought he would be away for very long once he realised he would not have much to do outside of swimming,” he added. “I think he is that kind of guy who needs the accolades and needs to be in the forefront, so he was always going to come back.”

Steady progress: Burch

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Published May 08, 2014 at 9:00 am (Updated May 08, 2014 at 12:37 am)

Burch to rub shoulders with Phelps and Lochte

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