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Swim fans from across the nation praise Iowa City and the CRWC

BY BENJAMIN TOWAR | MARCH 30, 2015 5:00 AM

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Swimming fans from all across the country convened at the Campus Recreation & Wellness Center, and they call the men’s NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships a success.

“I love it,” Anthony Ervin, a 2000 Sydney Olympic gold medalist and University of California-Berkeley alum said. “The town has been great, and the facility is awesome.”

Throughout the six sessions held from March 26-28, crowds from all across the country filled the 1,200 Natatorium seats and the 150 overflow seats situated on the second-floor gymnasiums.

All the ticket sales go toward the NCAA rather than the UI, meaning the university does not receive a cent of revenue from the meet itself.

“It’s not so much the money,” said Matthew Getz, assistant director of events management for UI athletics. “The attention and the reception that Iowa City and the university got from [the fans] all around the country though, that’s invaluable.”

While the swimmers were awarded with plaques and medals, reactions to first NCAA meet held at the University of Iowa in almost 100 years were very positive.

“The facility is amazing,” said Robert Kropp, father of Duke junior Peter Kropp. “The lighting from the catwalks is perfect, it’s like watching the meet in HD. And the acoustics too, it gets loud when they want it to be loud.”

Getz said the facility and the staff members had received nothing but positive comments.

A new $50,000 video board was suspended from the east end of the Natatorium, displaying live feed of the meet from four different cameras positioned around the facility.

“The video board [was] a hit,” Getz said. “We had coaches and parents taking pictures of the board when their swimmers did well.”

Coaches also expressed their appreciation of the Rec Center’s self-regulated cold-tub (usually a hot tub) found in the Leisure Pool area. Getz said the tub has “set the standard” for cold-tub use for future meets.

Michelle Harder, senior associate director of UI Recreational Services, said the only issue that created any dissatisfaction from the visitors was the Daktronics timing system, which experienced a slight malfunction on the morning of March 26, prompting a delay.

The system allows times to be calculated by swimmers tapping a pad at the end of the race.

Three Daktronics staff were on-site to prevent further malfunctions.

Tropical Smoothie Cafe, inside the Rec Center, experienced a boom in business with fans buying the café’s supply of smoothies, water, and coffee.

“We see a lot of people at the end of events, they all tend to come here,” said Nathan Cox, the Tropical Smoothies Café manager. “It’s also great to see all these people from across the country. It’s a lot of fun, the events are exciting, and it’s a privilege to have it here at Iowa.”

Visiting fans also took advantage of Iowa City’s local businesses. Getz spoke of a particular instance in which visitors from the California coast praised Formosa, 221 E. College St., for its sushi. The California-Berkeley alumni expressed interest in dining at the Mill, 120 E. Burlington St., for post-meet celebration.

Brothers Bar & Grill also retweeted a picture of Berkeley graduates dressed as bears, the university mascot, playing hunting arcade games in the bar. “I can bear-ly handle the irony,” the tweet said.

“I’ve been traveling a lot of places watching my son swim,” said Bob Licon, father of Texas swimmer Will Licon. “And, by far, the people here have been the nicest. Always willing to lend a hand.”


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