News

NCAA swim championship here in 2008

By CASEY OLSON

The Mirror

The 2008 NCAA Men's Swimming and Diving Championships are coming to Federal Way.

The NCAA, the national governing body of intercollegiate athletics, announced Wednesday that the University of Washington and Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center were selected to host the nearly 1,000 best college swimmers from across the United States three springs from now.

"We are thrilled and honored to have an opportunity to host the men's NCAA Championships, especially during an Olympic year," said Washington head coach Mickey Wender. "It's been a longtime goal to host this event, not just for the University of Washington, but for the Northwest swimming community as a whole. This is one of the premier swimming regions in the country, and this will be a great showcase of our sport."

The 2008 men's championships will be a precursor to the U.S. Olympic Swim Trials, which will be held in Omaha, Neb. that June and July, and ultimately the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China.

Several members of the 2004 U.S. Olympic Team swam at the NCAA Championships last year, including gold medalists Ian Crocker and Aaron Peirsol.

The NCAA meet in Federal Way is scheduled for March 27-29, 2008. It will mark the third time UW has hosted the event. The Huskies held the championship in 1947 and 1961 at their on-campus pool in Seattle.

The '08 swim meeet will be the first NCAA championship hosted by Washington since the 2002 women's golf tournament was held at Washington National Golf Club in Auburn.

"From the committee's standpoint, we are excited about going to (Federal Way)," said John Lyons, chairman of the Men's and Women's NCAA Division I Swimming Committee. "The Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center is first-rate and world-class, and we were unanimous about our decision. It has been a long time since we have been to the West Coast."

This year's championships were held at the University of Minnesota, and the 2006 event will be at the Georgia Tech Aquatic Center in Atlanta. Minnesota will also be host in 2007.

Washington has fielded men's swimming teams since 1932 and added a women's program in 1975. Wender has been the coach since 1998 and has produced 15 All-Americans and has consistently sent student-athletes to compete at the NCAA Championships. Washington's best team finishes at the national meet include 19th place by the 2003 women's team and 25th by the 2004 men's team.

The Seattle Sports Commission, a subsidiary of Seattle's Convention and Visitors Bureau, will serve as the host agency for the 2008 event.

The aquatic center, which is operated by King County, is no stranger to hosting national and international swimming and diving events. The facility was built to accommodate the 1990 Goodwill Games swimming and diving events and can seat up to 2,500 spectators. Over 200 national and world records have been established in the pool.

As in other major meets, the NCAA Championship will have a positive economic impact locally and regionally as competitors and fans converge on Federal Way and the Seattle area.

"King County is honored and very excited to have been chosen" as the site of the 2008 NCAA event, County Executive Ron Sims said. "We will be seeing the country's top swimmers as they prepare for the 2008 Beijing Games."

Sports editor Casey Olson: 925-5565, sports@fedwaymirror.com

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