The 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio were another huge success for the traditionally dominant U.S. swim team. Swimmers Michael Phelps, Katie Ledecky, and Simone Manuel made headlines with their amazing performances.
The Olympics are something that most of us only watch on TV, but there are ways to watch top swimmers live, closer to home. California is a state where a lot of professional swimmers train and compete so we have a unique opportunity to go out and watch them.
The annual Arena Pro Swim series in Santa Clara is one of the top competitions in America and many Olympians attend every year. The competition takes place from June 1 – 4 at the George F. Haines International Swim Center. Tickets cost between $10-$15 for finals and $5 for prelims, making swim meets an extremely affordable way to watch some of the best swimmers in the country.
Someone to look for in particular at the Arena Pro Swim series is 19-year-old Katie Ledecky, the champion of women’s long distance freestyle and a Stanford student starting this the fall. Ledecky won four individual gold medals in Rio, plus a silver medal in the 4x100m relay. She is second only to Michael Phelps, who has won only one more than Ledecky.
Simone Manuel, Ledecky’s teammate on the Stanford swim team, has made history as the first African-American woman to win gold at the Olympics in an individual swimming event. Manuel won the 100m freestyle and the 4x100m medley relay, in addition to two silver medals.
Missy Franklin, “America’s golden girl” from the London Olympics, fell short of her 2012 Olympic performance. Franklin’s only medal in Rio was in the 4x200m relay, where she won gold. She was expecting to do well at the Olympics after leaving Cal after her sophomore year to train for the Olympics. Franklin holds the world record in the 200m backstroke, but she failed to qualify for semifinals in any of her individual events in Rio.
“I wish I had an excuse, but I don’t, and I’m not going to make up one,” Franklin told the Washington Post, “The truth is I worked as hard as I possibly could. I did everything I could think of doing, and for some reason, I fell shorter than I ever have before.”
Franklin’s teammate on the U.S. team and on the Cal Bears team at Berkeley, Nathan Adrian, also scored wins for the U.S.. He won gold in two relays and bronze in the 50 and the 100m freestyle. These were the 27-year-olds´ 3rd Olympics, making him a veteran Olympian.