Even though the 2016 Olympic Trials competition pool is locked down with its new home in West Fargo, North Dakota, the warmup pool is still up for grabs. According to Mike Mintenko of Myrtha, the field is “wide open” in negotiation for the 50 meter by 25 yard pool, which will also be equipped with the latest technology.
Coach David Bentz of the Great Wolf Swim Team in Minneapolis hopes to get the bid and build the “ultimate age group swimming facility” right in the Twin Cities.
According to Bentz, swimming has recently hit a huge uptick in Minnesota, and the state doesn’t quite have the facilities to support all of the age group meets that USA teams want to host. In the Twin Cities, a lot of the weight ends up falling on the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center (known recently for hosting the 2014 NCAA Women’s Swimming Championships and the Minnesota Grand Prix), but the pool can’t possibly run all of the age group, high school, college, and national meets that teams want to host there.
The proposed solution is the Minnesota Swim Center, a three pool facility with a small 8 foot by 12 foot hydroworks therapy pool; a 5 lane, 25 yard learn to swim and warmup pool; and the Olympic Trials warmup pool shipped in from Omaha. The facility would have 900 stadium seats in a balcony overlooking the competition pool and would also feature a 10,000 foot crash area for age group meets.
Although Bentz’s Great Wolf Swim Team would definitely hold their practices and meets at the new facility, it would be open for any other team in the state to rent out for practices and meets. He finds the name of the aquatic center, the Minnesota Swim Center, symbolic of the spirit of inclusion the facility will provide.
“We hope to be hosting meets three out of four weekends out of the month,” he said. “Whereas now, club teams have to call around to all the pools in the state asking ‘can we have our meet here?’, this facility would call out to teams saying ‘come host your meet here.”
The coalition of Minnesota club coaches interested in putting together the facility has already identified key sources of income for the $10 million project, but some work still needs to be done before they can lock down the Trials pool. According to Mintenko, Myrtha wants to find the warmup pool a home by June, but if the Minnesota group isn’t quite ready by then, the Minnesota Aquatics Center still can become a reality.
“If, at the end of Trials, we still don’t have all the money ready, we’ll just order a brand new out-of-the-box pool from Myrtha,” said Bentz.
To supplement the cost, the group has launched a GoFundMe page (on a crowdfunding website similar to Kickstarter), which assures that the pool could come together if “all the USA competitive swimmers in Minnesota contributed the price of one pair of new $20 goggles.”
Still, Bentz is hopeful and excited about the benefits that the aquatics center could bring to the Minnesota swimming community.
“It is a close knit community, and that’s what makes this project possible, and that’s why we’re opening it to all the other teams.” he said.
To read more about the project or to donate to the Minnesota Swim Center, visit the project’s GoFundMe page. If you’re interested in learning about other ways to donate, email Bentz at [email protected]