By Sharon Robb
May 13, 2015—South Florida Aquatic Club will be well-represented at the fifth stop of the Arena Pro Swim Series that begins Thursday at the Mecklenburg County Aquatic Center in downtown Charlotte, N.C.
Five SOFLO swimmers will be among an impressive field of 600 swimmers from around the world. SOFLO is the largest Florida Gold Coast team entered in the elite meet.
SOFLO is led by Alia Atkinson, 26, a three-time Jamaican Olympian and world record holder. She is looking to fine tune for the July 14-18 Pan American Games and July 24-Aug. 9 World Championships.
Atkinson will be joined by teammates Lisa Blackburn, Carolina Colorado, Jorge Murillo Valdes and Timothy Wynter.
Atkinson is entered in six events: 100 breaststroke, 50 backstroke and 100 butterfly on Friday; 200 breaststroke on Saturday and 50 breaststroke and 100 freestyle on Sunday.
Blackburn will swim four events: 100 breaststroke on Friday, 50 butterfly on Saturday and 200 IM and 50 breaststroke on Sunday.
Colorado will swim five events: 50 backstroke and 100 butterfly on Friday; 100 backstroke and 50 butterfly on Saturday; and 200 backstroke on Sunday.
Murillo Valdes will swim four events: 100 breaststroke on Friday; 200 breaststroke and 100 butterfly on Saturday; and 50 breaststroke on Sunday.
Wynter will swim five events: 50 backstroke and 100 butterfly on Friday; 100 backstroke on Saturday; and 200 backstroke and 100 freestyle on Sunday.
“This will be a good test for our swimmers,” SOFLO head coach Chris Anderson said. “I’m looking forward to it and to watching them swim fast.
“For us this worked into our training schedule,” Anderson said. “They got a little bit of rest in. I am really planning on them swimming a lot better than they did in Arizona. I’m really like to see them race and start approaching their best times.”
During the four-day meet, all eyes will be on Olympians Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte. Both are in the middle of hard training but adding to the excitement is the fact that it will probably be the last time the two will meet this year since Lochte, 30, of Daytona Beach is competing in the World Championships and Phelps, 29, is not.
The two are entered in the same five events: 100 and 200 freestyle, 100 butterfly, 100 backstroke and 200 individual medley.
An impressive international lineup will also compete including Olympic gold medalist Cesar Cielo of Brazil, entered in the 50 and 100 freestyle, 50 and 100 butterfly and 400 freestyle relay.
The men’s 800-meter freestyle and women’s 1500-meter freestyle distance events will kick off the three-day meet with timed finals at 4 p.m.
Gator Swim Club’s Elizaberth Beisel, a Florida alum, leads the women’s series standings with 38.5 points. Hungarian Katinka Hosszu, Katie Ledecky and Caitlin Leverenz are tied for second with 35 points.
With Ledecky not in the meet, Hosszu is expected to dominate and overtake Beisel in the series standings. Hosszu is entered in all seventeen events.
Conor Dwyer leads the men’s series standings with 53 points followed by Tyler Clary with 37 and Nathan Adrian and Michael McBroom tied with 21 points.
The Arena Pro Swim Series is the fifth of six stops of the 2014-15 series schedule. The series provides swimmers with the opportunity for competitive racing and twice the prize money as last season on the line.
Swimmers earn five points and $1,000 for a win, three and $600 for second and one and $200 for third place in the Olympic distance events only. Overall male and female winners of the series earn a $10,000 bonus.
Prelims are 9 a.m. and finals are 6 p.m. The meet will be live streamed at usaswimming.org.
Universal Sports Network will televise the meet on Saturday and Sunday at 6 p.m. with color analyst Rowdy Gaines.
Sharon Robb can be reached at email@example.com