Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Olympic Swimming Trials in Indianapolis

Indianapolis has a long history of hosting Olympic trials, the qualifying events for sending athletes representing the United States to the Olympic Games. In 1924, Indianapolis hosted the Olympic Swimming Trials at the Broad Ripple Pool, which was part of the White City Amusement Park.

The 1924 Olympic Swimming Trials featured Duke Kahanamoku, world-famous Hawaiian surf legend and Olympic swimming champion and Johnny Weissmuller (later Hollywood's Tarzan). An interesting bit of history regarding Weissmuller's birth & representation of the US at the 1924 Olympics was featured in the LA Times in August 2011 (see http://ta.gg/5o7).

During this time, my great-grandfather Harry Edward O'Brien and family were living in the Broad Ripple area. They would have been close by during the trials. It's possible (although I can't confirm) that he took my grandmother and two brothers to the White City Park to see the events.

Indianapolis later hosted the Olympic Swimming Trials in 1984, 1992, 1996 and 2000. I'm going to date myself here, but in 1992, I attended part of the trials (between the end of high school and the start of my college swimming career). I'm pretty sure I caught part of the trials in 1996, during the summer after I graduated college.

In 2000, I had the pleasure of working at the trials as a lane timer. From 1998-2001, I was an assistant swimming coach at IUPUI in Indianapolis. Our home pool was & still is the IU Natatorium. This was an awesome meet, and I was very lucky to be able to see the trials from the edge of the starting blocks. It's certainly not the same as being on those blocks and having an opportunity to represent the country at the Olympics, but it was a great experience.

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