Swimming Canada has nominated four finalists for their 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Swimming Trials that will run from April 2nd-7th, 2016.
- Quebec City – Piscine PEPS
- Edmonton – Kinsmen Sports Centre
- Montreal – Piscines do Parc Olympique
- Toronto – Pan Am and Parapan Am Center
Each of these facilities has a fairly unique aspect to them. Below, we’ve broken down each host in briefs. Canada estimates that over 700 athletes and 2000 spectators will attend the meet, which means they don’t necessarily need the most massive of arenas like USA Swimming employs for their trials. Still, there are relatively few pools in Canada equipped to handle those sorts of crowds.
This historic French city has a population of just over half-a-million people. Things can still be a bit chilly in Quebec City in April – the average temperature sits about 3.3 degrees Celsius and 37.9 degrees Fahrenheit, with daily lows typically below freezing.
The pool, however, is marvelous. It’s newly opened as part of the Laval University Sports and Physical Education Pavilion. The Pavilion includes a main arena that seats 2,000, a 3,000 seat gymnasium, and a 50 meter indoor pool.
The main arena only has 400 seats for spectators according to its official website, so more information will have to come out about how, exactly, Canada plans to accommodate the seating. Their media relations personnel didn’t have that information available when we asked.
Edmonton is a rising hub on the Canadian junior swimming scene, and put three women on the Canadian Junior World Championship roster.
The city itself is booming with oil money, similarly to Houston in the United States. It has a population of 812,000, making it the country’s 5th-biggest city, and is growing at a break-neck pace.
The Kinsmen Sports Centre was built to host the 1978 Commonwealth Games, and also hosted the competition for the 2005 World Masters Games aquatic events (and table tennis). It is a city-owned development.
But this is another facility with an adjacent arena – the Kinsmen Field House. No capacity figures were available for this pool on its website, but Swimming Canada says that it can hold 1,600 in elevated bleachers, and when it held a World Cup event years ago, they added an additional 750 seats on deck as well.
Edmonton is a little warmer – the average daily temperature is 5.4 degrees Celsius, or 41 degrees Fahrenheit, but it probably makes an outdoor 25-meter pool out of the equation for warm-up space, but they do also have an indoor 50 meter pool for warm-up. There’s also an elevation concern – Edmonton is about 2,200 feet above sea level. That’s not monumentally-tall, but it might just be enough to cost it the bid.
This one is the defending host. The Piscine du Parc Olympique is the one built for the 1976 Olympics, and hosted the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Trials.
The 2012 edition would be even better, as the pool is currently undergoing renovations as Swimming Canada continues to push Montreal as a new hub for swimming in Eastern Canada.
This pool was designed with a system of ‘spouts’ designed to decrease water turbulence. The grandstand seats 2,777 people, leaving few questions about its ability to host a meet of this size.
Montreal, which is located about two hours south down the St. Lawrence River from Quebec City, is also quite frigid in April, has a more temperate climate: one very similar to that of Edmonton (though it perhaps doesn’t get quite as warm at the high end).
The new kid on the block: Toronto is building a sparkling, impressive new aquatic centre that, in terms of pure facility, simply cannot be matched by any of the other candidates.
The facility cost $205 million to build, with a 50-meter indoor competition pool and an additional 50-meter training/warm-up pool. It is slated to be opened in July of 2014, a year ahead of hosting duties for the 2015 Pan American Games aquatics events.
The facility was designed by Counsilman-Hunsaker, the same company that designed the 1996 Summer Olympics aquatic centre on the campus of Georgia Tech in the United States.
This facility also has easily the biggest seating capacity. With stands along both sides of the pool, it can hold up to 6,000 people (in other words, slightly bigger than the United States’ largest permanent indoor facility at IUPUI).
The pool is on the campus of the University of Toronto – Scarborough, and is the provincial capital of Ontario. That makes it the most centrally-located of the pools, as well as the biggest city in the country at 2.6 million residents (more than double that in the metro area).
And finally, the daily mean temperature average sit a tad higher even than Edmonton and Quebec.
The challenges with Toronto is the fact that it’s not done, and perhaps some political pressures of hosting two potentially huge aquatic events in back-to-back years in the same pool. There might also be some concern of being able to fill up such a large facility, but that is counteracted by the potential and challenge to fill up such a large facility.
On paper, in hard facts and figures, though, The Toronto Pan Am pool has to be the favorite.
Updated 10/22 with information from Swimming Canada about seating capacity of Edmonton pool.