NCAA Championships: History Was Made, But Who Was Watching? – Swimming World Magazine

NCAA Championships: History Was Made, But Who Was Watching?
Both versions of this year’s NCAA championships – women and men – were nothing short of amazing. Between the Walsh sisters (Alex and Gretchen), Leon Marchand and Josh Liendo (and more), records fell or were at least in jeopardy in the majority of the races.
But who saw them?
For all the star power that these meets featured, the crowds were relatively modest.
Unlike NCAA Division I wrestling, where the crowd is nearly 20,000, the men’s and women’s meets were in the 2,000-spectator range.
So why when swimming has gained so much popularity are the crowds relatively sparse?
First of all, the men and women have different meets, which means you lose a lot of the teams that would cheer each other on. It also forces many fans to choose one meet or the other, with most unlikely to take up two full weeks, often in different parts of the country, to watch swim meets.
In Division II and III, the meets are combined, consequently offering a much different atmosphere.
Also, swimming has become popular enough that most of the big meets are televised or streamed, leaving many with options not to travel to a meet.
Another factor is the difference between NCAA and USA Swimming meets. Unlike wrestling, swimming has a full slew of professional swimmers and a different circuit of swimming with pro series meets, U.S. Opens and national championships.
So, many swim fans opt for competitions where they might see more stars take to the water.
A big test for the in-person crowd will be right back in Indianapolis in June for the Olympic Trials. The event is at Lucas Oil Stadium and is set to be an impressive show. However, the 13,000-15,000 fans a night four years ago in Omaha will make Lucas Oil Stadium look empty.
Just between the Walsh sisters and Marchand, historical performances were frequently produced at NCAAs. More, the meets offered elite American stars, along with premier athletes from around the world. Nonetheless, the stands for the men’s meet in Indianapolis were half full.
If record-breaking meets with super stars aren’t filling the stands, NCAA swimming might soon be at a crossroads.
The NCAA needs to involve former swimmers in promoting the event. Pre-COVID, former champions like Nathan Adrian and Kara Lynn Joyce handed out the medals. That approach has mostly gone away, but would be an easy option to connect generations. Autograph sessions between prelims and finals, such as what USA Swimming occasionally offers, could draw spectators.
Perhaps the teams themselves will need to get involved. Olympic years are tough because of training, but with so many former NCAA stars like Katie Ledecky, Simone Manuel, Kate Douglass, Maggie Mac Neil, Caeleb Dressel, Abbey Weitzeil and Ryan Murphy still active, well-marketed appearances at these meets could be a boost.
But more will need to happen.
Perhaps the NCAA will need to lean on USA Swimming or World Aquatics for better marketing of the event. Perhaps the men and women will have to shift to a combined meet down the road. Involving a DJ and generating an enhanced atmosphere is somewhere to turn.
But something has to change. Otherwise, no one will be around to watch history in the making.
Welcome to our community. We invite you to join our discussion. Our community guidelines are simple: be respectful and constructive, keep on topic, and support your fellow commenters. Commenting signifies that you agree to our Terms of Use
Welcome to our community. We invite you to join our discussion. Our community guidelines are simple: be respectful and constructive, keep on topic, and support your fellow commenters. Commenting signifies that you agree to our Terms of Use
Sounds very different from the atmosphere at last year’s NCAAs. Last year’s NCAA D1 atmosphere at MN might have been more similar to the past Trial atmosphere at Omaha, because MN had a smaller venue so the crowd filled it to capacity and it was loud. We may be looking forward to 1/4 or 1/2 filled stands this year at Trials in Indy this June.
Those are all great ideas, Dan. It’s difficult to get family/friends to watch a swim meet, especially if they’ve already been to a few meets. If swimming is going to continue to grow, we need to do more to get viewers interested.
Ultimately, it’s important to grow the sport at the beginner level, starting with swim lessons and the early swim teams. Make it fun. Don’t burn the kids out too early. But also work to make the meets a memorable experience.
Thank you for all you do for the sport. You are right, we need to all SUPPORT history in the making. These athletes are blasting away the records at lightning pace! Let’s all BE there to celebrate!
Clicky

source

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *