2017 WOMEN’S NCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS
- Wednesday, March 15 – Saturday, March 18
- IUPUI Natatorium – Indianapolis, IN
- Prelims 10AM/Finals 6PM (Eastern Time)
- Defending Champion: Georgia (results)
- Championship Central
- Psych Sheet
- Event Previews
- Live Stream: Wednesday/Thursday Prelims & Finals, Friday/Saturday Prelims / Friday/Saturday finals on ESPN3
- Live Results
This weekend at the 2017 NCAA Women’s Division I Championships in Indianapolis, the stands were a little… empty. The feeling that something was missing filled the IUPUI Natatorium, especially for spectators, swimmers, and reporters whose last big-time, national-level meet was the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Trials in Omaha.
The 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials sold out, with ticket sales eclipsing 200,000 for the 15-session meet. And, though Trials is obviously a bigger and higher-profile meet, Trials ticket sales prove that American interest in the sport remains at its all-time high, and that Midwestern swim fans and fans willing to travel to the Midwest can fill even an entire CenturyLink Center of seats.
This weekend, 10,031 total tickets sold for the 2017 NCAA Women’s DI Championships, a combination of all-session and single-session tickets across seven sessions. This number is actually the second-biggest in history for the women’s NCAA Championships. 11,705 sold last year for the 2016 Championships at Georgia Tech, 8,969 sold for the 2015 Championships in Greensboro, and 8,366 sold for the 2014 Championships in Minneapolis.
However, the IUPUI Natatorium is huge, with seating capacity to fit 4,700 spectators, so even the second-biggest spectator field in history felt like an underwhelming crowd. But this isn’t a unique situation for an IUPUI competition; any veteran of top-level meets in Indianapolis will tell you that the stands are at most 50% full at any point.
The emptiness of the massive facility sucks up some of the competitive energy that thrives in smaller, but still top-flight aquatic centers like those at the University of Minnesota (1,346 seats) and Georgia Tech (1,900 seats). The emptiness may or may not affect swimmer performance, but it definitely does make for a tamer spectator experience. As a onlooker at the IUPUI, you feel farther away from the action, and some of the excitement and cheering can get lost in the big facility.
You can see shots of the crowd on the lane one side right before the start of Friday night finals below. There are more crowd members on the lane eight side of the pool, underneath the photographer’s vantage point. (The first heat of 400 IMers is standing behind the lanes, so the first event is just minutes away.)