What Does Hosting 2021 Men's NCAA Championships Mean For Iowa?

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When Iowa City, Iowa, hosts the NCAA Men's Championships in 2021, college swimming's finale will be returning to a city with a great deal of history in the sport, although many don't know it.

Legendary Iowa coach ​David Armbruster left his mark on the four modern strokes in the mid-1930s with the help of one of his swimmers, ​Jack Sieg, who along with Armbruster discovered the butterfly.

The NCAA Championships are only coming to Iowa City for the third time. Iowa, which now boasts a statue of Sieg outside the entrance to the natatorium, is excited to have the championships returning for the second time since 2015.

It first hosted prior to the creation of the butterfly in 1927.

Hosting the championships in 2021 doesn't only showcase the rich swimming history Iowa City holds, but it also presents a great chance to experience the one of the Midwest's great college towns.

"Hosting is really a great opportunity to showcase the university, the city, and the state of Iowa," Iowa head swimming and diving coach ​Marc Long said. "To get a big event like this is exciting."

Iowa City is accustomed to hosting major events. Kinnick Stadium, the Hawkeyes' home football venue, fills during seven Saturdays in the fall, bringing more than 70,000 people into the Iowa City area for each game. Iowa is primarily a wrestling state and has hosted the U.S. Olympic Wrestling Trials in each of the last two Olympic cycles at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

The 2021 championships will draw more than 300 student-athletes and their support staff to the area. From those people alone, thousands of dollars will be spent on food, lodging, and transportation.

The overall experience in 2015 helped bring the championships back to Iowa City. Fans, coaches, and athletes left satisfied with the environment in Iowa.

"I know the athletes and coaches loved it," Long said. "I still got comments this past year of people saying they loved coming to Iowa City."

The athletes and the NCAA responded well to the way the championships were run in 2015. Mark Getz, the assistant director of event management for Hawkeye athletes, felt confident that if a bid was submitted for this next round of championships, Iowa would get one of the meets. Bids were placed for both the men's and women's meets.

"The committee knew what we were capable of, the bid was almost a formality," Getz said. "When the NCAA left in 2015, they had wonderful things to say."

One issue that arose at 2015 championships was the need to completely close the facility to recreational patrons, which drew complaints. A large crowd and the repurposing of other areas in the building warranted shutting the facility down to the public during the meet.

"Most people were understanding of events impacts," Iowa aquatics director ​Phil Julson said. "There were a few who got very upset and complained."

Julson presented the option of refunding those who were upset. He plays a large role in the relationship between athletics and recreation services when planning aquatic events.

Iowa City was one of four sites selected to host between 2019 and 2022. The championships at Iowa will take place March 24-27, 2021.
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