Federal Way praises aquatic center's role in diving trials

The United States Olympic Team Trials — Diving ended its run inside Federal Way
The United States Olympic Team Trials — Diving ended its run inside Federal Way's Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center on Sunday. In total, 11 divers punched their tickets to the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London.
— image credit: Todd Dearinger/For the Mirror

Mike Dunwiddie, the only manager the Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center has known in its 20-plus years of existence, was honored with a proclamation by the Federal Way City Council.

Councilmember Jeanne Burbidge had the honors of introducing Dunwiddie at the July 17 council meeting, saying the aquatic center's manager is a tireless promoter of his facility and Federal Way.

"Tonight we're recognizing an individual who plays a very key role in bringing events like this to Federal Way," Burbidge said, referencing the U.S. Olympic diving trials held last month. "For the past two decades, Mike has developed the aquatic center into the best facility in the nation for high-level aquatic competitions. As a result, Federal Way has hosted prestigious regional, national and international competitions that have brought many people to Federal Way."

The aquatic center manager touched on the impact the dive trials had on Federal Way's economy and on the city's exposure.

Of the 16,342 tickets that were sold, 60 percent of those were purchased by out-of-town visitors, Dunwiddie said, referencing the event's impact on the city's lodging tax fund.

"These guests also flooded our dining, shopping and entertainment establishments and generated a good sales tax for us too," he said. "Not a bad thing for us right now."

Dunwiddie is also involved behind the scenes, promoting tourism and Federal Way through the city's Lodging Tax Advisory Committee, Burbidge added.

Dunwiddie said there are many people in the city and region who make the aquatic center, and the events it hosts, so successful.

"I brought this placard that was leftover from the event, and I think it sums it up," Dunwiddie said, holding up a scorecard with the number 10 on it. "We definitely scored a 10, a perfect 10. When I say we, I mean the City of Federal Way, the Seattle Sports Commission, the King County Parks Department, and the event staff and volunteers that coordinated the event."

Outside of those agencies, Dunwiddie paid special thanks to Mayor Skip Priest and economic development director Patrick Doherty. The city officials who attended throughout the event also were important, Dunwiddie said, in making a big impression on the U.S. diving.

"The rest of you that came, made U.S. diving feel especially welcome. That's the first time they've seen that in all of the cities they've been to in our country," he said. "And it was done just by demonstrating the support and asking every day if they had everything they needed. That was quite special."

The diving trials were picked up by NBC and included five hours of live national broadcast coverage. The final sessions are still available on Comcast/Xfinity on-demand, Dunwiddie noted.

Dunwiddie said the 12-day event was a lot of work for his staff, but well worth the effort.

"For us, our work days were 19 hours long, including four days we worked around the clock and had to stay overnight," he said. "In every way, this event was a great event. I compared it to the Goodwill Games, and I think in so many different ways, it was an even bigger deal, and even greater success, than the Goodwill Games."


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