San Antonio wants Olympic Swim Trials

City in running to host 2016 USA Swimming Olympic Trials at Alamodome

Author: Tim Gerber , Reporter, tgerber@ksat.com
Published On: Jan 30 2013 03:06:16 PM CST   Updated On: Jan 16 2013 04:08:30 AM CST
SAN ANTONIO -

San Antonio has its sights set on Olympic gold. The Alamo city is one of 6 cities in the running to host the 2016 U.S. Olympic Swim Team trials.

The event could bring 1,200 of the nation’s top swimmers and tens of thousands of fans to the city.

In a video introducing the city's bid to host the trials, Mayor Julian Castro makes his best pitch for San Antonio as a host city.

"We look forward to sharing our rich cultural heritage, fun festive attitude and Texas hospitality with your athletes, fans and Olympic family in 2016," Castro said. "Bring the Olympic trials to San Antonio and we'll help you grow the sport of swimming in minority communities."

George Block, Chairman of the Board for the San Antonio Sports Foundation, said the bid process began last May and San Antonio is now one of 6 U.S. cities still in the running. The other cities hoping to host the trials are Greensboro, N.C., Indianapolis, IN, Jacksonville, FL, St. Louis, MO and Omaha, NE.

The city is offering up the Alamodome for the event.

"The pool would sit in that end just where the old Spurs basketball floor was," Block said. "The other side would be the 2 warm up pools for the athletes and additional locker room space."

Block said the dome could provide a more intimate setting than some of the cities that are pitching NFL football stadiums to host the trials.

Omaha, Nebraska hosted the last two trials and attracted over 164,000 fans for the event's 8 day run.

Block thinks we can do better.

"They were selling 14,000 tickets (per day) in Omaha, and 17,000 in London. We think we can do 20,000 in San Antonio," Block said adding the city has experience hosting large sporting events. "Every event that's been in San Antonio from the Junior Olympics to the Olympic Festival to NCAA Final Fours to volleyball Final Fours we've set new records in attendance and ticket sales. We think we'll do the same thing for USA Swimming."

While the city has a 1 in 6 chance of winning the bid, the mere possibility had local high school swimmers already dreaming of Olympic glory as they practiced at the San Antonio Natatorium Tuesday afternoon.

"That makes me want to spend more time in the pool trying to get myself better and be one of the top ones up there," said Miguel Mata a swimmer on Edison High School's team.

Other teens said it would be inspirational to see the sport’s top talent competing for a spot on the Olympic team in their own backyard.

"It would just be amazing because those are the people I look up to," said Victor Daniels a swimmer on Edison's team. "Those are the people I want to be like."

Aside from inspiring future Olympians, hosting the trials could have the added benefit of teaching inner city kids to swim. Block said they are more likely to drown than suburban kids.

"If we can get the Olympic trials in San Antonio that can be a reason for us to go out and get the business community engaged, get the political community engaged and rebuild inner city swimming and reinvest in inner city swimming," Block said. "We need to do it not to be fair or not because it's right but because we have kids dying. We want inner city swimming to be the legacy of the Olympic trials."

The city will find out in May if we'll be a stepping stone to the 2016 Olympic games in Rio.

"We think we can take the fabulous event they already built and take it to another level," Block said. "If it's in San Antonio our city is going to get to see the heroes of Rio before anyone else does."

You can see San Antonio's bid here.

For a list of recent stories Tim Gerber has done, click here.