About 300 world-class swimmers will descend on the University of Maryland campus in College Park this week to compete in the first major international meet ever held in the Washington area.
The FINA World Cup meet Wednesday and Thursday, the first stop of a 12-city international tour, will showcase not only some of the world's top swimmers but also the University of Maryland Campus Recreation Center Natatorium, part of a $42 million complex completed early last year.
Organizers of the Washington-Baltimore bid for the 2012 Olympics pushed for the World Cup event, which was awarded for 1999 and 2000. The event has particular appeal at this juncture, just a couple of months after 12 world records fell at the prestigious Pan Pacific Championships in Sydney and less than a year before the 2000 Olympics in Sydney.
The meet has lured some of the sport's biggest names. Among the competitors will be Lenny Krayzelburg, who broke three world records at the Pan Pacific Championships; Jenny Thompson, who broke Mary T. Meagher's 18-year-old world record in the 100-meter butterfly at the Pan Pacifics; Arlington resident Tom Dolan, a 1996 Olympic gold medalist and the world record-holder in the 400 individual medley; China's Chen Yan, a two-time 1998 world champion; as well as dozens of international stars from 38 countries.
In addition to Dolan, several other elite local swimmers will compete: Burke's Ed Moses, the No. 1-ranked man in the 100 breaststroke this year; Bowie's Brad Schumacher, a two-time 1996 Olympic gold medalist in freestyle swimming who hopes to compete both as a swimmer and a water polo player at the 2000 Olympics; backstroker Beth Botsford, a two-time Olympic gold medal winner from Timonium, Md., and the District's Molly Freedman, who finished fifth in the 200-meter butterfly at the Pan Pacifics.
The eight-lane, 50-meter pool will accommodate the meet's short-course format with movable bulkheads being used to set two 25-meter courses.
FINA Swimming World Cup
When: Wednesday and Thursday.
Where: The University of Maryland Campus Recreation Center Natatorium, College Park.
Significance: First stop on a 12-meet World Cup tour that includes stops in Rio de Janeiro, Hong Kong, Sydney, Berlin and Paris.
Who: Americans Lenny Krayzelburg, Jenny Thompson, Tom Dolan, Dara Torres and Ed Moses, as well as international stars from 38 countries, including China's Chen Yan, Britain's James Hickman and Finland's Jani Sievinen.
Tickets: All 800 seats for the 6:30 p.m. finals on both nights are sold out. Tickets ($5 adults, $3 children) still remain for the daily preliminaries at 10:30 a.m., and are available by calling 410-433-8300.