Athletes and fans are packing their bags leaving Omaha after the U.S. Olympic Swim Trials wrapped up on Sunday. Omaha has been home to the trials since 2008 and Omaha Sports Commission President Harold Cliff would like to seal a deal with USA Swimming and have Omaha become the permanent host site for the event.
Cliff says, “Certainly as a host institution the Sports Commission would be interested in a longer term process so we would no longer have to bid. There are a number of factors that come into play with that. Los Angeles is bidding for the 2024 Olympics and they would like to have the trials in their city as a lead-up to the Olympic Games so there is an awful lot that goes into the decision making process but I don’t think there is any question that longer term is something we would all like to see.”
Cliff says both the coaches and athletes like the fact that the warm-up and competition pools are located indoors close to one another. He says this is an ideal situation for the swimmers. He says their largest challenge is the number of swimmers that make the qualifying standards. USA Swimming was forecasting 1,200 to 1,300 but 1,750 showed up.
Cliff says they also like to focus on the fans and the Aqua Zone is a unique feature to Omaha. Cliff says, “USA Swimming manages the Aqua Zone and does a fabulous job. The number of people who went through the Aqua Zone went off the scale. I think the interactive nature with an Aqua Zone where people can get wet and experience different things the kids really enjoy it.”
As for securing the 2020 swim trials, Cliff says we are well on our way. There are some details to work out regarding dates. USA Swimming hopes to make a recommendation by their convention in September. Cliff says I can’t see why they wouldn’t want to come back after solid audiences and the response they have received from swimmers and coaches. They are trying to work out the final details on dates.
This was Cliff’s final U.S. Olympic Swim Trial event before his retirement.