Sports

PAC-12 CHAMPIONSHIPS: KC Aquatic Center will host swimming and diving meets through March 6

Several Olympians will be inside the King County Aquatics Center over the next week competing at four different Pac-12 swimming and diving competitions.  - File photo
Several Olympians will be inside the King County Aquatics Center over the next week competing at four different Pac-12 swimming and diving competitions.
— image credit: File photo

The Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center will be a very busy place over the next week, hosting the best swimmers and divers from around the Pac-12 Conference.

The Aquatic Center is currently playing host the 2013 Pac-12 Conference Women's Swimming and Men's and Women's Diving Championships, which started Wednesday. The competition will run through Saturday in Federal Way and will be immediately followed by the Men's Swimming Championships, which run March 3-6.

The Pac-12 Conference announced earlier this month that Federal Way would host the Men's Swimming Championships. The massive meet was originally scheduled to take place at the Belmont Plaza Olympic Pool in Long Beach, Calif., but was moved to Federal Way due to an emergency closure of the facility.

Typically, the men's conference meet takes place the weekend after the women's meet to better mesh with the NCAA championship calendar, but the Pac-12 commissioners thought it was the easiest transition to hold the events concurrently in Federal Way.

The Belmont Pool is currently closed due to a draft structural analysis that concludes the facility is seismically unsafe in the event of a moderate earthquake. The seismic issue recently came to light as a result of the analysis currently under way related to the revitalization plan for the entire pool complex, which opened in August 1968.

There is an amazing amount of talent inside the King County Aquatic Center. Eight 2012 Olympians, including four medalists from the London Games, are slated to compete at the 2013 Pac-12 Women’s Swimming and Men’s Swimming and Diving Championships.

The Pac-12 had six teams ranked in the latest national poll, including four of the top six. The league features a number of Olympians and NCAA standouts.

The University of Southern California is the nation’s top-ranked team and is poised to bring home the program’s first Pac-12 women’s swimming title.

The Trojans are led by senior distance freestyler Haley Anderson, a 2012 NCAA Champion and Olympic silver medalist. Joining Anderson are seven All-Americans, including fellow Olympian Stina Gardell, who claimed a pair of top-three finishes in the 2012 Pac-12 Championships.

Stanford, winner of 18 conference titles, dealt USC its only loss and notched convincing victories over previously unbeaten UCLA, Arizona and Arizona State. Senior and eight-time All-American Andi Murez leads a talented group that features four swimmers who posted top-15 finishes at the 2012 NCAA Championships.

Two-time defending national champion California is led by reigning Pac-12 Swimmer of the Year and Honda Sports Award winner Caitlin Leverenz. The senior took home a pair of NCAA titles and swam on the Bears’ national champion 200- and 400-medley relay teams last year.

On the diving boards, Arizona junior Samantha Pickens and UCLA sophomore Emma Ivory-Ganja lead a strong women’s field. On the men’s side, Arizona State senior Harrison Jones has won both the 1-meter and 3-meter springboard events in every meet this season. Stanford sophomore Kristian Ipsen is the defending 3-meter champion and a bronze medalist at the 2012 Olympics.

The King County Aquatic Center is no stranger to conducting national and international events. It was constructed to house the swimming and diving portions of the 1990 Goodwill Games and has since been the home to more than 50 competitions annually. The Aquatic Center hosted the NCAA Men’s National Swimming and Diving Championships in 2008 and again last year to rave reviews.

The pool was also home to the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials — Diving in June. The trials qualified 11 men and women for the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London and was broadcast to a national television audience.

A recent economic study conducted for King County measured the financial impact of these events on the region in excess of $7.5 million annually.

Both meets will be carried on tape delay on the Pac-12 Networks. For more information on the Pac-12 swimming and diving championships, visit Pac-12.com.

Tickets for the 2013 Pac-12 Conference Championships are $30 for an all-session pass for adults and $20 for students/children/seniors. A one-day pass is $15 for adults and $10 for students/children/seniors.

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