The 2014-15 men’s NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships will be held at the Campus Recreation & Wellness Center, marking a huge accomplishment for the University of Iowa.
“It’s a high-profile meet,” Hawkeye head swimming coach Marc Long said. “From a swimming and diving perspective, it’s one of the most elite meets in the world.”
The meet will mark the first time Iowa has hosted a national championship since wrestling did so in 2001 in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The last time the swimming and diving championships were held in Iowa was in 1927, at the Field House.
The top swimming and diving programs in the country will compete in the championships, and members of the Iowa City community will be exposed to some of the best college swimmers in the country and the world.
“For the university, it’s one of the fastest swim meets in the world,” Rec Center aquatics Associate Director Phillip Julson said. “It’s a very prestigious event with a lot of great athletes.”
Those athletes and their families will get the opportunity to enjoy the atmosphere the university and city of Iowa City has to offer. With downtown and much of the campus within walking distance from the Rec Center, the championships will give visitors a firsthand view of what Iowa City and the university have to offer.
“People will be coming to Iowa City who never would have had it on the map,” Long said. “They’re going to get a chance to see how outstanding this community and university are.”
He believes that the most attractive thing about Iowa is the hospitable nature of the people. And with that hospitality, there is a certain amount of reward. The always-vibrant nightlife of Iowa City will have fresh faces, presenting a likely boost for local businesses.
“It’s a great opportunity to give outsiders a chance to experience Iowa City,” said Matt Getz, the assistant director of operations/event management in the Athletics Department. “And with a community that rallies behind what Iowa athletics is trying to do, it’s a good opportunity to infuse money back into that community.”
The university will get an opportunity to show off the campus and facilities, making this a event a good platform in recruiting swimmers and divers as well as students in general.
“It’s good for name recognition for the university,” Julson said. “It’s good for trying to get some of those younger athletes who are thinking about swimming in college, so it helps from a recruiting end on that point. And for the university in general, it’s attracting students and attention to the university.”
In an event that could display a number of future Olympians from a variety of countries, the championships also allow some of the top college athletes in the country to experience one of the newest, most state-of-the-art college recreation centers in America.
For Long, hosting the NCAA championships is a dream come true.
“It’s a pretty cool thing,” he said. “I’ve always dreamed of holding a meet like this.”