Toyko Olympian Drew Kibler serves as Grand Marshal for Indianapolis Grand Prix; Speed Appreciates Speed

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Toyko Olympian Drew Kibler serves as Grand Marshal for Indianapolis Grand Prix 

Although motorsports and swimming are far from the same, they share one common trait – racing. While driving a car going more than 200 miles per hour is not comparable to racing in an eight-lane pool, the raw competitiveness needed in each sport is not all that different. Just ask 2020 Olympian Drew Kibler. 

“There is something about the very foundational experience of trying to go faster than the guy or girl next to you,” Kibler said. “The feeling of intensity and adrenaline, it’s a pure experience that can be shared by a swimmer or a racer.” 

Last Saturday, Indianapolis native Kibler represented the swimming community as the Grand Marshal of the 2023 GMR Grand Prix at the historic Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS). Kibler, who currently trains back at home in Carmel, had multiple pre-race ceremonial roles, including calling the drivers to their cars and announcing the most famous words in motor sports: “Drivers start your engines!” 

The connection between sports was made when Kibler met IMS President Doug Boles at the Golden Goggles last November. The relationship grew and Boles relayed the opportunity to be Grand Marshal to Kibler.

“There are a lot of a people in Indianapolis who are really successful, really into sports, and really into swimming,” Kibler said. “That perpetuates some of USA Swimming’s ideals and swimming ideals as a whole as (swimming) is a community that prepares you for life.”

Boles shared that Kibler was the perfect fit for Grand Marshal of the Indianapolis Grand Prix. In an Indianapolis Motor Speedway press release, Boles mentioned how the Indiana native has represented the Hoosier state on some of the biggest stages in the sporting world. 

“All Great Racers Come to Indy” 

In 49 states, it’s just the month of May. In Indiana, and more specifically Indianapolis, people look forward to racing all year long. The main event of the month is the Indianapolis 500, known to many as the biggest race in the world. In the summer of 2023, the month of May is only the start of Indianapolis’ role in the world of racing. 

The phrase “All Great Racers Come to Indy” originated in motor sports. However, a banner boasting the phrase has been seen hanging from the 10-meter platform of the IU Natatorium for decades. Although racing in Indianapolis is well known because of IndyCar, the city has a rich history of elite racing in the pool. 

“If Indy is the racing capital of the world for cars, then that competitiveness carries over,” Kibler said. 

Along with IMS, the IU Natatorium is one of the most iconic venues in the city. Kibler detailed he can remember going and watching meets where the best swimmers in the world were competing. 

Indianapolis is accustomed to hosting big meets and the next several years are no different. The 2023 United States International Team Trials will be at the IU Natatorium from June 27 to July 1. The U.S. Olympic Team Trials is set to return to Indy in 2024. 

More Similar Than Different 

After his experience last Saturday, Kibler compared preparing for a meet with preparing for an IndyCar race. He shared it was a pleasure to get to know many of the drivers, including pole-sitter Christian Lungaard. 

“We are both athletes trying our best to be the best,” Kibler said. 

In the Indianapolis area, IndyCar drivers are major celebrities. Kibler was a little star-struck when meeting the drivers and was surprised when several of them mentioned his own success. One of the drivers said, “hey, you’re awesome to watch.” 

To Kibler, the interaction between athletes reflected an impactful message. There is a great level of respect between sports and a great appreciation for hard work between the different athletes. The professional drivers recognized Kibler’s status as an Olympic swimmer in a similar way he viewed their role as driver. 

“Indianapolis has strong ties with motor racing and Olympic swimming has strong ties with U.S. success,” Kibler said. “When people think racing, they think of Indianapolis, and when people think of the Olympics, they think of USA Swimming.” 

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Connor Lathrop
Connor Lathrop
9 months ago

Super Interesting!

Rafael Ponce de Leon
Rafael Ponce de Leon
9 months ago

Great article!!

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