Aquatic Center will host Pac-12 Swimming/Diving Championships starting Wednesday

The Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center will be a very busy place over the next couple of weeks.

The Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center will be a very busy place over the next couple of weeks.

Starting Wednesday (Feb. 26), the Federal Way complex will house the 2013 Pac-12 Conference Women’s Swimming and Men’s and Women’s Diving Championships. The competition will run through Saturday and will be immediately followed by the Pac-12 Men’s Swimming Championships, which are slated to run March 5-8.

This will be the second year in a row that Federal Way has hosted the massive events. Last winter, the King County Aquatic Center was called into action after the Belmont Plaza Olympic Pool in Long Beach, Calif., the original host of the 2013 meets, was abruptly shut down because of failed seismic tests.

There will be an amazing amount of talent inside the King County Aquatic Center during the next two weeks, including several Olympians. But the marquee name will be Cal freshman Missy Franklin.

In her Olympic debut at the 2012 Summer Olympics at age 17, Franklin won a total of five medals, including four gold. She swept the women’s backstroke events, winning golds in both the 100- and 200-meters.

Franklin also earned Swimming World’s World Swimmer of the Year and the American Swimmer of the Year award in 2012, as well as the FINA Swimmer of the Year Award in 2011 and 2012. In total, she has won 18 medals in international competition, including 13 golds.

Franklin’s Cal team is the top-ranked women’s squad in the country

“Going into the Pac-12’s, I think everybody is excited,” Franklin told “Before going into NCAA’s, we are all really focused on this meet.”

Franklin’s Cal Bears are the top-ranked women’s team in the nation. In total, there are five Pac-12 teams ranked in the top-25, including three of the top-five — Cal, Stanford and USC.

Other teams competing on the women’s side will be Oregon State, Washington State, Arizona, Arizona State, UCLA and Utah. The University of Washington doesn’t offer the sport.

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.

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 Preliminary swimming races will take place from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Thursday through Sunday and finals will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. each night. Wednesday night features championship races in the 200 medley relay and the 800 freestyle relay starting at 6 p.m.

Diving finals will start at 3 p.m. Thursday with the 1-meter women’s event and from 6 to 9 p.m. in the men’s 3-meter event. On Friday, the men’s 1-meter competition will kickoff at 3:30 p.m. and the women’s 3-meter will start at 6 p.m. The men’s platform diving will start at 1:15 p.m. Saturday and the women’s platform will start up at 6 p.m.

Tickets for the 2014 Pac-12 Conference Championships are $40 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.

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 in 2012 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.