Michael Phelps, the 14-time Olympic gold medalist, is in town for Charlotte's UltraSwim meet, which begins today. He is entered in five events (the same number he entered at the 2009 UltraSwim, when Phelps won two, finished second in two others and dropped out of the fifth before the finals).
If you want to see Phelps, you still can. They're selling a limited number of tickets at the door each day starting as low as $10 (see CharlotteUltraSwim.com for details). Phelps won't swim today, but he should be in the pool for every other session this weekend (Friday, Saturday and Sunday -- morning sessions begin at 9 a.m. and the finals each night at 6 p.m.)
Friday will definitely be a heavy day for Phelps, and Saturday could be, too. He will swim the 200 freestyle and the 100 butterfly on Friday, he said in a press conference Thursday afternoon.
On Saturday, Phelps said he is scheduled to do both the 50 freestyle and the 100 backstroke. The 50 free is not his forte, and that's the one he dropped out of last year at the UltraSwim after a mediocre morning performance.
If Phelps does make the finals in both, though, and wants to swim them both, those two races are back-to-back. That means Phelps could be swimming two finals on Saturday night about 10 minutes apart. That'd be fun.
On Sunday, Phelps is scheduled to compete in one event -- the 200 individual medley.
The events he will have the toughest time winning here are the 50 free and the 100 backstroke (which he lost last year in the UltraSwim to Aaron Peirsol, who has long been America's pre-eminent backstroker and is here again as well).
I'll be covering the UltraSwim all weekend for The Observer in both this blog and in the newspaper. Here was a preview column I wrote today on Charlotte Olympian Ricky Berens, who is also here competing (as is his girlfriend, the very accomplished swimmer Rebecca Soni).