MARION — The Iowa High School Athletic Association had a need for a pool to host a state championship swim meet.
Linn-Mar was more than willing to fill the void.
The district boasts one of the finest aquatic facilities in the state. When the IHSAA announced in December the meet, set for Saturday at noon, would be moved from the University of Iowa’s Campus and Wellness Recreation pool due to COVID-19, the Linn-Mar administration and swimming staff were quick to offer the school’s venue as an alternate site.
“After talking to the staff and administration here at Linn-Mar, we decided we were interested in letting the (IHSAA) know we would love to be considered as a host,” said Lions athletics director Dave Brown.
It didn’t hurt that the Linn-Mar administration, along with the athletics staff at Iowa City West, had served as the co-hosts for the meet after it moved to Iowa City from Marshalltown in 2017.
“Dave brought up the topic of hosting the state meet and I thought it was a great idea,” said Lions Coach Tom Belin. “The state reached out for venues and Dave offered ours. The (IHSAA) went through a vetting process and we ended up being selected to host the meet.”
The Linn-Mar Aquatic Center has hosted its share of large, age-group meets. Although some adjustments will be made to accommodate the swimmers in a safe, socially distant manner, Brown said the facility’s staff is well-equipped to handle Saturday’s meet.
“We have a great staff that helps us put on top-level events at the aquatic center,” he said. “Bobby Kelley manages our aquatic center and does a great job of paying attention to all the details involved in running large meets.
“(Public address announcer) Corey Haars and Greg Crawford with digital communications have worked their magic at many of our home events and also the state meet for the past two years. We are also fortunate to have a solid group of swim enthusiasts in our community who are willing to donate time to help make things run smoothly on the day of the meet.”
There are some adjustments that had to be made by Kelley and his staff. The main changes will be on the deck to make the space work best for the teams, along with having the swimmers have their team camps in the bleachers.
“We’ve been working through all those pieces while adding in KCRG 9.2 as the video presence,” Brown said. “That has taken some time to organize.”
Area coaches were pleased with the decision to move the meet to Linn-Mar.
“Linn-Mar is an amazing facility,” said Iowa City West’s Byron Butler. “We are familiar with the pool and the logistics of how they run meets. It was pretty incredible how loud it got during the girls’ state meet (in Marshalltown), even without fans. I expect Linn-Mar will provide a similar atmosphere.”
Cedar Rapids Washington’s Chris Cruise looks at it like a “home” meet for his Warriors.
“We can sleep in our own beds, warm up at our own pool in the morning, and then go home, grab something to eat, and drive 15 minutes to the state meet,” he said. “That is a huge win for our team and we are looking forward to that.”
Belin believes the meet will show those around the state what the locals already know.
“It’ll be nice to showcase what Linn-Mar is doing to promote swimming,” he said. “Linn-Mar has shown an incredible commitment to swimming since the pool was built. Hopefully others will see how adding more swim opportunities positively benefits a school community.”