In the next four months, three major events in the run-up to the 2012 Olympics in London will be held in Charlotte.
In May, spectators will have the chance to watch Michael Phelps in what will likely be his Charlotte swan song at the annual UltraSwim meet - he is expected to retire following the Olympics. Phelps has already committed to come to the meet, as have top U.S. swimmers like Ryan Lochte, Natalie Coughlin along with more than a dozen swimmers with Charlotte connections who have a shot at the 2012 Olympics. Tickets go on sale Feb.1st.
Before that, though, two other major Olympic-related events will be held in Charlotte:
From March 8-11, a modern pentathlon showcasing about 200 of the world's best athletes will be held in Charlotte at several different venues uptown including the Grady Cole Center, Memorial Stadium and the Mecklenburg County Aquatic Center.
Modern pentathletes are among the most versatile in the world - they must fence, swim, ride a horse, run and shoot in their competition. The Charlotte event will be part of the World Cup Series, so it will undoubtedly draw a number of 2012 Olympians from both the U.S. and abroad. Ticket information is not yet available.
From April 12-14, the U.S. Olympic Trials for canoe and slalom will take place on the manmade rapids at the U.S. National Whitewater Center. This canoeing and kayaking event will be free and open to the public (except for a $5 parking fee).
When the 2008 Olympic Trials were held in the same place, fans had to buy tickets and there were still around 17,000 spectators over the three-day event. This year, with the event becoming free, organizers expect even more to come.
Then the UltraSwim will finish off the "Road to London" in Charlotte from May 10-13 at the Mecklenburg County Aquatic Center. The UltraSwim is traditionally one of the most prestigious meets each year in America and always draws an exceptional field. Phelps has been a mainstay the past several years.
"To have three events like this in Charlotte is really a collaboration of Olympic proportions," said David Marsh, the CEO of SwimMac Carolina and its director of coaching.