COLUMBIA — Sorry all you Michael Phelps followers, but there will be no Phelps sightings at this weekend's third annual Missouri Grand Prix swimming event.
Phelps, who won eight gold medals last summer at the Beijing Olympics, has been suspended for three months by USA Swimming after a photo was published last week by News of the World, a British tabloid, showing Phelps apparently inhaling from a marijuana pipe.
Who are you sure to see? Both the Missouri men’s and women’s swim teams will be present, as well as several other past Olympic swimmers. The meet runs Friday through Monday at the MU Student Recreation Complex.
The Missouri Grand Prix is the third stop of six in the USA Swimming Grand Prix Series, which provides the U.S. National team, as well as swimmers from across the world, a chance to compete at an elite level. During Olympic years, this meet also gives participants an opportunity to qualify for the Olympics. The overall series winner will be awarded a $20,000 grand prize.
Eight members of the 2008 Olympic swim team will be at this weekend's event, including Garrett Weber-Gale, Matt Grevers, Eric Shanteau, Chloe Sutton, Mark Gangloff and Christine Magnuson. Ryan Lochte, a 2008 gold medalist and world record-holder, along with Katie Hoff, who has also won multiple Olympic medals will be there, as well as members of the U.S. National Team.
It is also a chance for the Missouri swimmers to get some practice before the Big 12 Conference meet, which starts Wednesday at the MU Student Recreation Complex.
“The more you do this (compete), the more relaxed you are for the Big 12 Conference meet,” Brian Hoffer, MU's swimming coach said..
However, not every member from the team will be participating in the event . Members are given the choice of whether or not they want to swim .
“We leave it up to them,” Hoffer said. “Before conference, some like to compete and some don’t.”
Jake Hoffmann, a senior captain on the men’s swimming team, is not participating at this weekend's meet, but still recognizes the importance of an event this big.
“To have a lot of swimmers come to that meet, it’s such a great honor for us,” Hoffmann said.
Unlike Hoffmann, Lori Halvorson, a senior captain on the women’s swim team, intends to compete this weekend and was not afraid to show her excitement.
“I feel like when you get up against them (Olympic swimmers), you can get up against anyone,” Halvorson said.