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IU Natatorium adds to swimming history with National Parks & Recreation Championship

Natatorium hosted US Olympic Swim Trials four times.
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Posted at 7:13 PM, Jun 12, 2024

INDIANAPOLIS — American swimmers once clinched their spots in the Olympics at the IU Natatorium. A new competition in the same water could inspire Olympic dreams where they were hard to find before.

The IU Natatorium is hosting the inaugural National Parks & Recreation Championship, which is sanctioned by USA Swimming.

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The USA Swimming National Parks & Recreation Championship at the IU Natatorium.

The event features swimmers from public pool clubs across America.

"This for our kids in urban settings and our kids in Parks and Rec facilities to help see themselves as elite swimmers," said Leland Brown III of USA Swimming.

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The USA Swimming National Parks & Recreation Championship at the IU Natatorium.

The event leads up to the US Olympic Swim Trials at Lucas Oil Stadium, which the IU Natatorium hosted four times: 1984, 1992, 1996 and 2000.

"I call this the Yankee Stadium of swimming, there's so much history here," said natatorium director Ed Merkling. "All 4,800 seats were full in 2000, it's great to see the growth of it."

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The IU Natatorium.

Rob Green coaches the DC Wave Swim Team, which traveled to the natatorium from Washington, D.C.

He believes the Parks and Recreation Championship is a great way to grow the sport in communities which may not consider it an option.

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The USA Swimming National Parks & Recreation Championship at the IU Natatorium.

"We're able to take this sport, which has traditionally been very affluent and white-only, and open up the doors of access to this activity," Green said. "This meet and Parks & Rec teams in general are extremely important to the future of swimming in this country."

He said the inspiring history of the IU Natatorium could also kick start its future.

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The USA Swimming National Parks & Recreation Championship at the IU Natatorium.

"If you can't get excited to swim fast here, I don't know where you're going to do it," Green said.

The National Parks & Recreation Championship will take place at the IU Natatorium until Saturday.