The Rio Olympics ended in the heat of August, with U.S. swimmers enjoying their best team performance since the 2000 Games. With 16, the Americans won almost half of the available gold medals. They earned 33 medals overall, the most of any U.S. squad.
It’s now January. College teams still are two months away from the NCAA championships. Other swimmers are prepping for the 2020 Games in Tokyo. And many will be in Austin to compete in the year’s first Arena Pro Series set for the Jamail Texas Swim Center. Swimmers from 25 countries, including 14 who have earned Olympic medals, will be participating. The three-day meet starts Friday morning.
It’s an early glimpse at who could be swimming’s brightest stars in four years. Here are some to watch:
- Penny Oleksiak : The Canadian tied American Simone Manuel for the gold medal in the 100-meter freestyle last August.
- Matt Grevers: He’s a two-time Olympian and a four-time gold medalist, winning in the backstroke and relays. He just missed making the Rio team by a spot and thought about retiring. Instead, this will be his first meet since the Trials.
- Josh Prenot: The former California Golden Bears star won a silver medal in the 200 breast in Rio.
- Ryan Held: He’s vying to be the country’s top freestyle sprinter. Held was part of the American gold medal 400 freestyle relay team in Rio. He broke down in tears on the podium, creating one of Rio’s first viral moments as fans saw a smiling Michael Phelps giving him a pat on the back.
- Amanda Weir: She’s one of the world’s top female sprinters. And she’s the veteran of three Olympic teams with three silver medals and a bronze.
- Sean Grieshop: He’s the Cedar Park star who swims for Nitro. Greishop is one of the country’s best young swimmers after winning the world junior championship in the 400 individual medley.