SWIMMING Preview: Tyr Pro Swim Series opens in Knoxville; what will Katie do?

USA Swimming is placing significant emphasis on raising the importance, profile and showmanship of its Tyr Pro Swim Series, starting with the first leg this week in a new venue, the Jones Intercollegiate Aquatic Center at the University of Tennessee.

The fields are excellent, especially for a meet in January and especially on the women’s side. Among the top stars and their events entered:

● Michael Andrew ~ 50 m Free, 50-100 m Breast, 50-100 m Back, 50-100 m Fly, 200 m Medley
● Chase Kalisz ~ 200 m Free, 100-200 m Breast, 200 m Fly, 200 m Medley
● Ryan Murphy ~ 100-200 m Free, 50-100-200 m Back

● Kathleen Baker ~ 50-100-200 m Back, 200 m Medley
● Kelsi Dahlia ~ 50-100 m Free, 50-100-200 m Fly
● Katie Ledecky ~ 200-400-1,500 m Free, 400 m Medley
● Simone Manuel ~ 50-100-200 m Free, 50-100 m Back, 50-100 m Fly
● Olivia Smoliga ~ 50-100 m Free, 50-200 m Back
● Melanie Margalis ~ 200-400 m Free, 50-100-200 m Breast, 200 m Medley
● Hali Flickinger ~ 200-400 m Free, 200 m Back, 100-200 m Fly, 400 m Medley

Canada’s Penny Oleksiak – co-Olympic champion in Rio with Manuel in the 100 m Free – is also entered, expected to compete in the 100 m Free and the 50-100-200 m Fly.

Worth noting: the meet has a limit of seven events for any individual swimmer, but Andrew has entered eight; also, what is Manuel doing swimming the Backstroke and Butterflys? Is she planning on become a Medley swimmer?

Of course, Ledecky, now a professional, will draw a lot of attention. She’s especially worth watching because she has – unbelievably – set a world record in January! On 17 January 2016, she broke her own world mark in the 800 m Free in the Arena Pro Swim Series opener in Austin, Texas (8:06.68). She’s already set six world marks in the 1,500 m Free, so could her mark of 15:20.48 from last year’s Tyr Pro Swim Series in Indianapolis (16 May) be in danger?

The venue seats 1,284 and the meet will be conducted in long-course format (50 m).

Prize money for this meet is $1,500-1,000-500 for the top three places. Points will be scored for the season (five-meet) series as well.

NBC’s Olympic Channel will have coverage on Thursday and Friday at 6 p.m. Eastern time; USA Swimming has live streaming of the entire on its www.usaswimming.org site. Look for results here.