Many of the world’s top swimmers — including Olympic gold medalists and world champions Michael Phelps, Missy Franklin, Ryan Lochte and Katie Ledecky — will dive into the opening meet of the Arena Pro Swim Series this weekend in Minneapolis. With the Rio Olympics only nine months away, the meet gives fans an opportunity to see past and future Olympians, and swimmers a chance to earn qualifying times for the Rio Games.
When: Thursday through Saturday
Where: Jean K. Freeman Aquatic Center at the University of Minnesota
Schedule: Preliminaries at 9 a.m. and finals at 6 p.m. each day. Thursday’s races include the 200-meter freestyle, 100 breaststroke, 100 butterfly and 400 individual medley for men and women. Friday’s lineup has the 200 butterfly, 50 freestyle, 100 backstroke, 200 breaststroke and 400 freestyle for both genders, while Saturday’s schedule includes the 200 IM, 200 backstroke and 100 freestyle for men and women, as well as the women’s 800 freestyle and the men’s 1,500 freestyle.
The athletes: About 50 members of the U.S. national team will swim at the meet, the first of a seven-event series. The field also includes about 40 Gophers and a number of others with local connections, highlighted by 2012 Olympian Rachel Bootsma of Eden Prairie and David Plummer, a former Gopher who has competed in three world championships.
Tickets: $65 for all-session passes; $15 for single-session admission; $5 single admission for children under 8.
Live webcast and results: www.usaswimming.org/proswimminneapolis.
Two swimmers to watch
Michael Phelps: The most decorated Olympian of all time with 22 medals, Phelps is training toward his fifth Summer Games. Though he was not allowed to swim in last summer’s world championships after a suspension for a drunken-driving arrest, he recommitted himself to serious training and has clocked the world’s fastest times this year in the 100- and 200-meter butterfly and the 200 individual medley.
Katie Ledecky: At age 15, Ledecky won gold in the 800 freestyle at the London Olympics and broke Janet Evans’ American record in the event, which had stood since 1989. The world’s best distance swimmer won five golds at the world championships in August, becoming the first athlete to win the 200, 400, 800 and 1,500 freestyle in a major competition.