The nation’s keenest eyes in swimming will focus on Oklahoma City Thursday-Sunday at the Oklahoma City Community College Olympic Festival Pool. The King Marlin Swim Club (KMSC) Pro-Am Classic brings together American professional swimmers and many of the country’s best amateurs, a distinctive event on the swimming circuit.
The meet is comprised of 30 individual and 10 relay events. Individual races range from 50 to 1,650 yards and all four swimming styles: freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke and butterfly. There are also two medleys, a race in which swimmers must use all four strokes. There are a total of 15 events for both men and women.
There are also five relays, races in which teams of four swimmers compete. Each relay is comprised of 200, 400 and 600-yard freestyles and 200 and 400-yard medleys for each gender.
John Brown, founder and head coach of the KMSC Pro-Am Classic and the King Marlin Swim Club, has been a key figure in Oklahoma City swimming for more than 30 years. He has coached Pan Am champions, Senior and Junior National champions and hundreds of children of all ages.
Brown began the event, then known as the Elite Pro-Am Meet, in 1992. Along
with original meet director Jim Sullins, he wanted to create an event from a new mold.
“There weren’t any meets where amateurs got to face off with pros. It’s a
one-of-a-kind event,” Brown said.
As distinctive as it is, the event’s beginnings were tough. Brown said that convincing others that this new format could work, along with the aches and pains of actually creating the event, were large tasks.
“I had to fight for it to keep it going,” he said.
All the work is now paying off. In 1996, 400 swimmers participated. Last year, a record 750 swimmers competed, which will likely increase this year. Top-flight swim clubs, officials and college recruiters now flock to the event. Some estimate it will bring $2 million into the local economy.
Kade Knoch, a 14-year-old male from Edmond, is one of Oklahoma’s swimming stars who will be competing in the Pro-Am for the second straight year. Knoch recently landed on USA Swimming’s All-Time Top 100 Swims list in the 13-14 Boys Division for his 200-meter backstroke with a swim of 2 minutes, 10 seconds and 57 milliseconds. His swim is ranked 89th.
To give some perspective, the Top 100 swims lists reach as far back as 1965, so Knoch’s swim holds up with the best at his age and backstroke from the last 49 years.
Brown speaks highly of Knoch.
“He’s as good as any I’ve coached. He has a great feel for the water and is very coachable,” he said.
The event has made an impression on Knoch as well.
“It’s a whole new world of swimming. You can see how pros got there. They were once like us,” he said.
For more information on the KMSC Pro-Am Classic, visit teamunify.com.
Print headline: Kings of swim, A swimming competition will turn the nation’s attention to an OKC college and a swimmer not yet old enough to attend it.