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Attendance increases at swimming and diving competitions

BY MAGGIE CUNNINGHAM | DECEMBER 17, 2010 7:30 AM

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Rising to their feet, fans stood at attention watching the competitors crouch in position. At the sound of the gun, swimmers leapt from the starting blocks, and applause from the grandstands thundered through the Campus Recreation & Wellness Center's Natatorium.

That was the scene at Iowa's dual meet against Iowa State last weekend, and it has been a common sight at home meets this season due to an increase in fan turnout.

Since Hawkeye swimming and diving moved from the Field House to the rec center, swimmers said, they have seen an increase in the number of supporters at their competitions.

"I noticed the difference right away at our Heart Disease Awareness [Black and Gold Intrasquad] meet," senior Katarina Tour said. "The crowd was much bigger than we've seen at the Field House."

Whether it's because Natatorium can hold up to 1,200 people or the state of the art ventilation system used to keep the crowd cool, more people have been stopping in to watch the home team.

And the Hawkeyes feel the support during competitions.

"It is not so much what you see but what you hear before a race and during it," Tour said. "The strong support brings the athlete that little extra energy."

The Hawkeyes come ready to perform well against any opponent, but they agree the atmosphere during a competition has a significant effect on each event.

"Most people wouldn't guess, but swimming is a sport that relies heavily on the energy of the crowd," junior Daniela Cubelic said. "My best performances have come when my adrenaline was the highest, and our fans help with that. The bigger the crowd, the easier it is to swim fast."

Iowa's first home meet with numerous teams — the Hawkeye Invitational on Dec. 3-5 — boasted an especially large crowd. Fans camped out for the weekend to watch the three-day competition from beginning to end.

"I was surprised at the turnout," junior Danielle Carty said. "We hosted a lot of teams, and I expected parents and fans to come watch, but it felt like the stands were much fuller than usual."

New faces continue to appear in the crowd each meet, but the Hawkeyes are especially appreciative toward their fans who have always been there.

"Swim fans are loyal," Cubelic said. "Our friends and families along with other swim fans in the stands are very supportive and come to most of the home meets. It's nice to look up and see familiar faces in the crowd and race for them."

Whether the people in the stands followed the team from the Field House or stop in to watch a single event, the Hawkeyes can't say enough about what it means to have the support.

"When we look up in the stands and see a full crowd, it gives us an extra boost of confidence," Carty said. "Knowing that we have proud supporters makes each race that much more special. We want to make Hawkeye fans proud."


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