By Joe Quinn, OmahaSportsInsider.com - @JoeESPN590
That’s a big number, isn’t it?
It also happens to be the number of tickets that have already been sold for the upcoming U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials that get underway Sunday at the Centurylink Center (over 200,000 technically).
Tickets are already hard to come by (as in, officially sold out), and U.S.A. Swimming is making just 200 standing room tickets available for each session. By the time next week rolls around, the secondary market is sure to be buzzing as well.
As evidenced by the strong ticket sales, there’s obviously already a lot of interest in this event, but here’s three big reasons to get even more excited about the upcoming week of competition.
This one should pretty much speak for itself, but this event takes on even more meaning in that it will be Phelps’ final tuneup before his last Olympics.
Although it can be difficult to fully appreciate in the moment, its not hard to see Phelps’ impact on the history of American sports. Any list of greatest Olympians of all time includes Phelps, and his name will be right up near the top with the likes of with Muhammed Ali, Michael Johnson, Carl Lewis, Usain Bolt, and the 1980 U.S.A. hockey team.
Phelps will look to add to his already impressive legacy, as he seeks to become the first male swimmer to make five Olympic teams. He’s already the United States’ most decorated Olympian with 22 medals, 18 of them gold. Not surprisingly, Phelps’ also holds the record for the most Olympic trials wins with 13.
It’s not often one of the greatest athletes of all time comes to Omaha to compete, and Phelps fits that bill.
How often do you get to see the best?
Think about it for a second: when was the last time you saw, in person, someone compete that was the best in the world at their craft?
Probably not often.
This year’s field includes four athletes that hold individual world records: Phelps (100m fly, 200m fly, 400m IM), Ryan Lochte (200m IM), Katie Ledecky (400m free, 800m free, 1500m free), and Missy Franklin (200m back). There’s also numerous athletes that hold world records as part of relay teams, and a handful of American record holders in the field.
There’s a good chance more records will be broken in the next week, and who wouldn’t want to be in the building for that kind of excitement?
Swimming should once again lead the way for the U.S. at the Olympics
This event sets the stage for one of the U.S.’ strongest Olympic programs. In 2012, the United States won 31 total medals in swimming, including 16 gold, by far the most of any country.
The U.S. had a strong 2015 world championships meet as well, collecting 23 total medals with eight golds to edge Australia by one. Katie Ledecky accounted for four individual gold medals at that event, also winning gold in the 4x200m free relay with the U.S. team. The Rio games figure a breakout meet that will even further elevate her stardom.
Swimming is always a strong discipline for the American at the Olympics, and this year shouldn’t be any exception. Expect the U.S. to once again challenge for the overall and gold medal count in the pool.