By Sharon Robb

April 27, 2016—It just got real for fourteen South Florida Aquatic Club elite swimmers and other athletes around the world training for the 2016 Summer Olympics.

Wednesday marked the 100-day countdown for the Aug. 5-21 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janiero, the first time the multi-sport event will be held in South America at a cost of $7.4 billion.

SOFLO already has two swimmers who qualified for the Olympics and several others working toward the same goal.

Jamaican Alia Atkinson qualified for her fourth Olympic appearance in the 100-meter breaststroke. The world record holder has competed in the 2004, 2008 and 2012 Olympics and has yet to medal.

Colombian Jorge Murillo qualified for his Olympic debut in the 100- and 200-meter breaststroke events.

Four other international swimmers training at SOFLO are potential Rio qualifiers: Lisa Blackburn, Bermuda, 50 freestyle and 100 breaststroke; Alina Schulhofer, Austria, 800 freestyle relay; Raiz Tjon-A-Joe, Suriname, 50 and 100 freestyle and 100 breaststroke; and Monica Alvarez, Colombia, 100-meter breaststroke.

Three SOFLO swimmers have qualified for the U.S. trials in Omaha: teenager Kathleen Golding, 200 and 400 individual medleys; 2012 Olympic relay gold medalist; Claire Donahue, 100 and 200 butterfly; and former world champion Megan Romano, 50, 100 and 200 freestyles; 100 and 200 backstroke.

Four other SOFLO swimmers are working on trying to qualify for the U.S. Olympic Trials: Marc Rojas, 100 and 200 breaststroke; Kile Aukerman, 100 and 200 breaststroke, 200 individual medley; Ksen Golovkina, 100 breaststroke and Catalina Mendieta.

Approximately 10,500 athletes from 206 countries are expected to compete for 306 medals over 17 days. The Rio Olympics will feature 136 women’s medal events, 161 men’s events and nine mixed events.

Rugby and golf are the two new sports added to this summer’s Games. The last time golf was included in the Olympics Games was 112 years ago. Rugby was last included in 1924 and the United States won gold that year.

The only sports that have been included in every Summer Olympics are swimming, track and field, cycling, fencing and gymnastics.

American Michael Phelps, who first competed in the 2004 Olympics, holds the record for most medals won by any man or woman with 22, including 18 gold medals. He also set a record for most gold medals won at one Olympics with eight in 2008.

Nine different venues will comprise the Olympic Park, seven of which will be maintained after the Games.

A total of 7.5 million tickets are available. Tickets to the more popular events, like swimming, start at $100 and can run up to $350 for finals. According to NBC, the most popular tickets sold so far have been soccer, basketball, volleyball and handball.

Fans interested in purchasing tickets to the Games can go to CoSport.com. Tickets are available individually or in packages with hotel bookings and hospitality offerings.

The Olympic torch relay began April 21 in Olympia, Greece, the Games’ birthplace. The torch will begin its 95-day journey through Brazil on May 3. The Rio Olympic torch will travel through 329 Brazilian towns and cities.

While Rio Olympics publicity has focused on raw sewage, dirty water, the Zika virus, political unrest and building delays, the Games main focus will always be the athletes and will go on and are still the greatest sporting event ever to be involved in.

PUERTO RICAN NATIONALS

SOFLO’s Lisa Blackburn, a Bermuda national record holder training to make her Olympic cuts, competed in the recent nationals in Puerto Rico. Blackburn won the 100-meter breaststroke in 1:13.19, was third in the 100-meter freestyle in 58.95 and fourth in the 50-meter freestyle in 27.40.

Sharon Robb can be reached at sha11cats@aol.com

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