PHOENIX, Arizona, February 13. LAST night in a packed meeting at the Long Beach City Hall, plans were unanimously approved for a new permanent facility in the southern California town to replace the famed Belmont Plaza pool that will be torn down after it was deemed unsafe last week. One stipulation in the council's approval was adding a top-notch diving well to the plans, a call to action likely spurred on by the diving community's rally to get a diving well into the $64 million facility. Laura Wilkinson, the 2000 Olympic gold medalist on the platform, sent a passionate letter to one of the council members, saying the lack of a diving well will impact the city not only financially, but in denying hundreds of kids the opportunity to get into diving.
Several Division II-level conference championships begin today across the country, with their NCAA championships set to start in three weeks. It will be interesting to see how fast these swimmers go, and with two Division II NCAA records already set this season, we could see some great racing this week, and the first week of March at the NCAA championships.
Tomorrow morning, the Arena Grand Prix begins in Orlando, Florida, where the two biggest stars will likely be Ryan Lochte and Missy Franklin. Both will be coming down from altitude and could put together some decent in-season swims. Lochte has spent the past few weeks in Colorado Springs training with other postgrads on the Gator Swim Club, and Franklin just completed her high school season at her state meet, so she could do well. Dana Vollmer is competing for the first time since the London Olympics on her path to a likely defense of her 100 butterfly world title later this summer. Ryan Murphy will be racing for the first time since breaking multiple national high school records last November, and 15-year-old Becca Mann will continue to show her skills in the middle distance and distance events. Swimming World will be bringing you complete coverage of the meet, including a Race Day recap show on SwimmingWorld.TV after each finals session, so be sure to stay with Swimming World for up-to-the-minute results.