Athletes Honor Former U.S. Swim Coach At Annual Jimi Flowers Classic

By Stafford Braxton | June 02, 2017, 2:29 p.m. (ET)


Michelle Konkoly will lead Team USA into the two-day meet in Colorado Springs 

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – The eighth annual Jimi Flowers Classic, which brings together swimmers of all ages, will take place June 3-4 at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Saturday and Sunday morning sessions will begin at 8:30 a.m. MT, while the Saturday afternoon session will start at 4:30 p.m. All sessions are open and free to the public.

U.S. Paralympics Swimming will be hosting the annual event to honor former coach, mentor and manager Jimi Flowers. This year’s competition will feature more than 50 athletes from the U.S. and Canada as the meet looks to continue its successful past. The meet will precede the next stop of the 2017 World Para Swimming Series, which will continue in Indianapolis next week.

“We are honored to host the Jimi Flowers Classic for the eighth year,” said Queenie Nichols, director of high performance for U.S. Paralympics Swimming. “Jimi was an intricate part of strengthening the program to where it is today. He was an important figure in not only the swimming community, but the Olympic and Paralympic family.”

This year’s competition will be led by both Paralympic veterans and emerging athletes looking to make their mark. Rio Paralympians will hit the water in honor of the former swimming legend over the two days. On the women’s side, McKenzie Coan (Clarkesville, Georgia), who left Rio with three golds and one silver medal, will look to continue her success this weekend. Michelle Konkoly (Eagleville, Pennsylvania) had a successful stint in Rio, leaving the city with four medals, including two golds, in her Paralympic debut. They will be joined by teammates Rebecca Meyers (Baltimore, Maryland), who will keep the ball rolling after taking home three golds in Rio, and Sophia Herzog (Fairplay, Colorado), who secured silver in the 100-meter breaststroke at the Paralympics.

Representing the men’s side is four-time Paralympic veteran Rudy Garcia-Tolson (Bloomington, California), who swam away with one silver medal in Rio. He will be accompanied by two-time Paralympic silver medalist Tharon Drake (Hobbs, New Mexico) and Paralympian Tye Dutcher (Merced, California), who brought home six wins at last year’s Jimi Flowers Classic.

While the memorial meet will be led by a strong team of experienced Paralympians, the event will also feature National B Team and Emerging Team athletes, including Samantha Tubbs (King George, Virginia), Garner Moss (Madison, Wisconsin) and Haven Shepherd (Carthage, Missouri). The National B Team will be led by Paralympic bronze medalist Robert Griswold (Freehold, New Jersey), 2015 Parapan American Games standout Zachary Shattuck (Mt. Airy, Maryland), Paralympian Martha Ruether (Allegany, New York) and two-time Paralympian Letticia Martinez (Las Cruces, New Mexico).

The swimming field is set to honor the legacy of Flowers, who worked with USA Swimming as a national team coordinator, U.S. Paralympics national team manager and resident team coach. In 2009, he passed away in a tragic climbing accident. All proceeds from the meet will go to the Sam and Lauren Flowers Fund.