USA Swimming representatives toured Greensboro today, evaluating it as a potential site for its 2016 Olympic swimming trials. Greensboro is competing to be the host against San Antonio, Indianapolis, Ind.; Jacksonville, Fla.; St. Louis, Mo.; and Omaha, Neb., the host of the 2008 and 2012 trials.
“Greensboro did very well,” assistant executive director of USA Swimming Mike Unger said of the visit. “The city lays out very nicely and would be a nice place for our athletes and coaches to come to.”
If Greensboro is selected, the trials would take place in the Greensboro Coliseum instead of the neighboring Greensboro Aquatic Center. This would involve constructing an Olympic-sized pool on the coliseum floor, over a span of two to three weeks. The process of building a temporary swimming pool in an arena setting is not without precedent.
“Instead of bringing people to the pool, we bring the pool to the people,” Unger said. “It looks amazing once it’s set up.”
The representatives tour each finalist city, evaluating them on more than 30 various criteria, such as logistics of hotels and airports and community interest. Unger described Greensboro as enthusiastic, and said the coliseum strengthens its bid.
“These people at this venue have put on some great events in the past,” Unger said.
Although the coliseum would host the trials, the athletes would use Aquatic Center for training.
“The Aquatic Center is a great advantage,” Unger said. “It would get great use during the trials.”
When asked, Unger did not cite anything detrimental to Greensboro’s bid.
USA Swimming, the host city and sponsors split the funding for the trials, which would give Greensboro a huge economic boost, impacting people and business not affiliated with sports. This is not lost on nearby businesses like Ghassan’s Restaurant, which welcomed USA Swimming on its sign. More than 160,000 attended last year's trials in Omaha over eight days.
After representatives tour San Antonio, USA Swimming will spend the next five to six weeks deciding on the host city, with the athletes having 20 percent of the input.