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July 26, 2012 | 12:00 a.m. CST
The Missouri Grand Prix gives participants who meet USA Swimming qualification standards the chance to race against first-class competitors. Many athletes use the Grand Prix as a qualifier for other prestigious events such as the Olympic Trials, the Pan American Games and other national events.
Past Grand Prix events have hosted numerous famous Olympic swimmers, including Michael Phelps, Natalie Coughlin, Chloe Sutton and Ryan Lochte. After Phelps competed in the 2008 Grand Prix, he set an Olympic record at the games in the men’s 400-meter individual medley and won gold.
Columbia is one of seven stops in the USA Swimming Grand Prix Series. The other cities that hosted Grand Prix swimming events in the past year were Minneapolis; Austin, Texas; Columbus, Ohio; Indianapolis; Charlotte, N.C., and Santa Clara, Calif.
The Grand Prix is held at the Mizzou Aquatic Center, which typically hosts college swim competitions. However, after the successful debut meet in 2007, USA Swimming offered the Mizzou Aquatic Center a long-term deal to host one of the seven series meets. The center accepted.Related Articles
The three-day affair requires a lot of hard work, preparation and volunteers to run smoothly. This year, more than 200 people helped carry out the event. The meet coordinators had to turn down volunteers because of the overwhelming number of applicants.