MESA, Arizona, December 31. IN a landmark move within the Arizona Swimming landscape, Mesa Aquatics Club has announced that it has merged with Sun Devil Aquatics under the MAC Banner. This new arrangement has MAC expanding its year-round programs to include two new pools as well as developing its swim school.
The merger is already taking place, with Sun Devil swimmers preparing to move to Mesa facilities on Thursday, Mesa Aquatics co-owner Paul Smith told Swimming World today. SDA will leave Arizona State’s Mona Plummer Aquatic Center to merge with MAC to create a new club with more than 600 USA Swimming members. SDA’s pre-senior and senior level groups will now move to Rhodes, while its 14-and-under and high school development groups will remain at the Ahwatukee Community Center. Ahwatukee’s setup will now be rebranded as Mesa Aquatics Club-West.
“We’re absolutely thrilled with the direction we’re going,” Smith said. “We’ve got natural strengths that each team will bring to this partnership, be it athletes, coaches or parents.”
Adding the Rhodes Aquatic Center and Ahwatukee Community Center to its list of training facilities gives Mesa Aquatics four pools in the Mesa and Chandler area. The team currently uses the Kino and Skyline aquatic centers, both of which house state-of-the-art 50-meter competition pools where the Arizona high school championships and the Arena Grand Prix are held each year.
As far as major personnel moves, SDA’s recently-hired head coach Scott Goodrich will now be the National Training Group-Post Grad Director, with Olympic gold medalist Cesar Cielo now moving training locations to Mesa’s Kino Aquatic Center starting immediately. Cielo’s presence on the team will help Smith add a new component to Mesa Aquatics that he said he’s longed to have for years: a strong postgrad program.
Meanwhile, SDA founder and president Michael Chasson will now become the Director of Club Development as he focuses on building the post-grade program and the swim school, as well as looking at more sponsorship opportunities for the new club. Chasson has a long history with Mesa Aquatics co-owners Paul ad Laura Smith, having coached them at UC-Santa Barbara in the 1980s.
“I think it’s a positive thing for developing an elite swimming program in Arizona,” Chasson said. “The saddest thing is losing the Sun Devil Aquatics name, which we’ve had for 15 years or so. But as far as … getting on the national scene, there are nothing but positives with this.”
While the Sun Devil Aquatics age group swimming program is preparing for this move, the Sun Devil Masters team is not planning to make the transition to Mesa, Chasson said. The Masters team is run separately by Simon Percy and trains at the Arizona State recreation center as well as McClintock High School.
This is a huge move for the Smiths, who created the club in 2009, and have never looked back as they continue to solidify what has been a tumultuous Arizona Swimming landscape in the past few years.
With SDA having recently had to deal with sexual abuse allegations against former head coach Greg Winslow as well as Phoenix Swim Club losing its training location and set to merge with the Arizona Marlins, swimming in Maricopa County has certainly been on shaky ground.
The Smiths have put themselves in a strong position to capitalize on this uncertainty having proven they are capable of putting on world-class events with the Arena Grand Prix in Mesa this year as well as continuing to develop one of the strongest growing swim clubs in the area.