By Sharon Robb

January 13, 2016—South Florida Aquatic Club’s top swimmers will start off the New Year at the Arena Pro Swim Series at University of Texas’ Lee & Jamail Texas Swimming Center in Austin.

SOFLO will have six swimmers competing at the three-day meet that begins on Friday. The field features 600 swimmers including 70 members of the USA Swimming national team.

The ProFlo group is headed by three-time Jamaican Olympian Alia Atkinson, two-time Colombian Olympian Carolina Colorado and 2012 U.S. Olympic gold medalist Claire Donahue.

The star-studded trio will be joined by Bermuda national record holder Lisa Blackburn, post-grad Kile Aukerman and teenager Kathleen Golding, a member of SOFLO’s national group.

Atkinson and Colombian national record holder Jorge Murillo, who is not competing, have already qualified for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics in August. Newest ProFlo member and world champion Megan Romano is staying home to train.

Atkinson is entered in six events: 100 and 200 breaststroke; 50 and 200 freestyle, 100 butterfly and 200 individual medley.

Colorado is swimming the 100 and 200 backstroke, 50 freestyle, 100 butterfly and 200 individual medley.

Donahue will compete in the 100 and 200 butterfly and 50 freestyle.

Aukerman is swimming five events: 100 and 200 breaststroke, 200 and 400 individual medley and 50 freestyle.

Blackburn will swim three events in the 100 and 200 breaststroke and 200 individual medley.

Golding, a freshman at Cooper City High School, is entered in four events: 200 and 400 individual medley and 100 and 400 freestyle.

The field is star-studded headed by Michael Phelps, Katie Ledecky, Missy Franklin and Ryan Lochte.

Former Bolles coach Sergio Lopez, now national head coach of the Singapore national team, has entered a contingent including Americans Kevin Cordes and Rex Tullius, who are training with Lopez. The 12-swimmer contingent recently wrapped up training camp in Jacksonville. Singapore’s Olympic Trials are in March.

Hungary’s “Iron Lady” Katinka Hosszu is also among the elite field.

Prelims are 9 a.m. and finals 6 p.m. Central Standard Time.

The meet will be televised on same-day delay on Universal HD Saturday and Sunday from 9:30-11 p.m. EST. NBC Sports Live Extra will stream the Jan. 16-17 finals. A live webcast of both the prelims and finals will be at the usaswimming.org website.

Austin is the second stop in the seven-meet series. The series takes on added importance with U.S. swimmers trying to qualify for the U.S. Olympic Trials and international swimmers trying to make their time standards for various countries.

The series offers $350,000 in prize money. Each meet winner earns $1000, runners-up $600 and third place $200. A $10,000 bonus will be awarded to the overall male and female series winners. Ledecky and Conor Dwyer lead the series after the first meet.

Sharon Robb can be reached at sha11cats@aol.com

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