COLORADO SPRINGS- The most prestigious swimming competition to be staged in the U.S. since the 1996 Olympic Games will be held in Indianapolis, Ind., as
FINA awarded the city the 2004 Short Course World Championships, FINA Honorary Secretary Gunnar Werner announced today. The meet, which will take place just over a month after the 2004 Olympic Games, has traditionally attracted the world's top stars and has featured numerous world record-breaking swims.
Indianapolis will host the event in the new Conseco Fieldhouse, one of the world's most unique state-of-the-art sports and entertainment facility (see Conseco Fieldhouse in this release for more information). The tentative dates are Oct. 7-10, 2004. Representatives from USA Swimming, Indiana Sports Corporation and Pacers Sports and Entertainment made the final bid
presentation to the FINA Bureau. The bid was approved earlier today in Athens, Greece.
"Hosting the World Swimming Championships five weeks after the Athens Olympic Games will create an American stage upon which to celebrate our sport and recognize our Olympic champions," said Chuck Wielgus, USA Swimming Executive Director. "We envision hosting an event that will simply blow people away — the world's greatest swimmers competing in the country's
finest indoor arena. We think this event can do for swimming what the Women's World Cup did for women's soccer in this country."
"This is the most important swimming event to ever take place in the United States outside of the Olympic Games," said Dale Neuburger, President of Indiana Sports Corporation and of USA Swimming. "Conseco Fieldhouse is the finest sports facility in the world and we're delighted that FINA has chosen to bring an international competition of such magnitude to Indianapolis."
The Short Course World Championships, held in the exciting 25-meter format,is a perfect showcase for the world's top stars. Prize money and world-record bonus incentives ensure athletes come ready to swim fast. At
this year's World Championships in Athens, Greece (March 16-19), 15 world records were broken, including six by Americans. In addition 21 American records were broken. This year's meet featured a record 540 competitors from 75 countries.
"The Short Course World Championships are already becoming one of the premier swim meets in the world," said 1996 U.S. Olympic swim team captain Josh Davis. "To have all of the countries of the world come together for just swimming … swam in short course … and to have it in America … it
could be one of the greatest meets of all-time.
"I think it's a great opportunity to bring the highest level of swimming to the U.S.," said five-time Olympic gold medalist Jenny Thompson. "It's such a
great international competition; it's great for the general public to see what a great sport swimming is and how exciting it can be. Typically, this meet has been tremendously exciting with the temporary pools in a big arena. I think that it will be a lot of fun."
THE CONSECO FIELDHOUSE
Since it's grand opening on Nov. 9, 1999, the $138 million Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis is quickly earning a reputation as one of the world's most unique sports and entertainment facility. The arena is home to
the NBA's Indiana Pacers, as well as numerous concerts, minor league hockey and other special events. The building combines modern-day amenities with
old-time charm. The retro-style appearance starts on the outside as the simple red brick, limestone and concrete exterior lead to a vast,barrel-vault roof similar to traditional fieldhouses. Glass walls at the top of Conseco Fieldhouse allow a view of the city skyline from inside the seating bowl. For the 2004 Short Course World Championships, a portable
25-meter pool will be constructed in the main 18,500-seat arena. Music, lighting and other special effects will make this swim meet like none other held in the United States before.
"Staging this event in Conseco Fieldhouse gives us the opportunity to introduce people to competitive swimming in a way they've never seen before," said Wielgus. "It will truly be a unique experience for both the fans and the athletes."
"I think that we have an opportunity to showcase swimming in a way that has never before been achieved in the United States," said Neuburger. "And the
selection of the Conseco Fieldhouse site not only demonstrates the facility's versatility but also highlights the opportunities to bring new fans to the sport."
"The swimmers have always talked about one day having a swim meet in an arena that can hold 15 to 20,000 people," said Davis. "We can't wait to swim
in that kind of environment, to have that kind of adrenaline rush. We're so envious of basketball and football because of the rush they get, the excitement that is generated around their events. We always say to ourselves that we could break so many world records if we had that kind of
environment, so don't be surprise if there are a lot of world records set in
that pool. "
THE FINA SHORT COURSE WORLD SWIMMING CHAMPIONSHIPS
The FINA Short Course World Swimming Championships are FINA's youngestcompetition, but is already considered one of the most exciting
international swimming competitions in the world. Events that took place at the 2000 World Short Course Championships included the men's and women's
50-, 100- and 200-meter backstroke, breaststroke and butterfly; the 50-,100-, 200-, 400- and 1500m freestyle (800m free for women); 100-, 200- and
400m individual medley, 4×100- and 4x200m free relay; and 4x100m medley relay More than 500 of the world's top swimmers from more than 75 countries entered the meet.
The first Short Course World Swimming Championships took place in 1993 in Palma de Mallorca, Spain. Rio de Janeiro (1995), Goteburg, Sweden (1997) and
Hong Kong, China (1999) have all hosted the event. Beginning in 2000, the meet will be held in even years. The 2002 Short Course World Championships
will be held in Moscow, Russia, April 4-7.
NEWS CONFERENCE SCHEDULED
Indiana Sports Corporation, Pacers Sports and Entertainment and the City of Indianapolis will hold a news conference on Wed., March 22 at 1:15 p.m. to
discuss the event, what it means to Indianapolis and how the portable pool will be placed inside Conseco Fieldhouse. Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson,
Pacers Sports and Entertainment President Donnie Walsh, Pacers Sports and Entertainment Vice President Rick Fuson, Indiana Sports Corporation Chairman
Jack Swarbrick, Indiana Sports Corporation and USA Swimming President Dale Neuburger and 2004 World Swimming Championships Event Chairman Joe DeGroff
will be in attendance. The Conseco Fieldhouse Interview Room on the event level will be the site of the event. Media should enter through the Employee
Media Entrance off Delaware Street. Contact Jeff Weitekamp at (317) 237-5016 or David Benner at (317) 917-2851 for more information about the press