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SwimMac wants $6M for pools

MICHAEL_PHELPS_10
Jeff Siner - jsiner@charlotteobserver.com
Michael Phelps loosens up by swimming practice laps at the Mecklenburg County Aquatic Center in Charlotte on Thursday. Phelps is competing Friday in the 30th Annual Arena Grand Prix Series at Charlotte. Phelps is the most decorated Olympian of all time with 22 medals.

SwimMAC Carolina announced a $6 million fundraising campaign Thursday with the goal of helping to solve what the club’s CEO and head coach, David Marsh, called a “severe shortage of water space.”

The capital campaign is called “One Lane at a Time” and would fund the construction of a new aquatic center at exit 31 off Interstate 77 in the Lake Norman area, as well as expansions and improvements at five existing facilities.

“What we’re missing in Charlotte is infrastructure,” Marsh said. “This would provide more pools and more space.”

The pools would be used not only by SwimMAC club members but also for community programming such as swim lessons, Marsh said.

Bob Bowman, one of the most well-known swim coaches in America and the longtime coach of Michael Phelps, praised the initiative.

“It’s very exciting,” Bowman said. “Anything that can improve the infrastructure is a great help -- not only to the swimmers in Charlotte, but to all the national-team swimmers who want to come here and to USA Swimming in general.”

•  The Charlotte Grand Prix began Thursday with two events -- the men’s 800 freestyle and the women’s 1500. Connor Jaeger, a U.S. Olympian who recently finished a sterling career at Michigan, won the 800 in 7 minutes, 58.59 seconds. It was the second year in a row Jaeger has won the event in Charlotte. Fellow U.S. Olympian Matt McLean finished second and Michael Klueh was third.

Denmark’s Lotte Friis won the women’s 1500 freestyle, edging a pair of North Baltimore Aquatic Club teammates in 16:07.14. Sixteen-year-old Becca Mann was second in 16:08.86, and Gillian Ryan was third in 16:12.64.

•  Tickets are sold out for both the Friday night and Saturday night finals for the meet, which is in its 30th year and is again being held at the Mecklenburg County Aquatic Center. There are a limited number of tickets available at the door for the Sunday night finals at 6 p.m. and for the preliminaries on Friday and Saturday at 9 a.m. Michael Phelps, the biggest name in the meet, will compete only on Friday.

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