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Juneau to host 2013 high school state swim championships

First time in 23 years event held outside Anchorage

Posted: December 13, 2012 - 2:30pm

The Alaska School Activities Association (ASAA) awarded the 2013 Swimming and Diving State High School Championship to Juneau. At the ASAA board meeting in Anchorage on Tuesday, a roll call vote accepted a proposal that has been in the works since 2007.

“We told the community at that time we would work to bring meets like this to Juneau,” Glacier Swim Club board member Max Mertz, a key facilitator in the proposal, said. “We are all so elated that ASAA liked what so many volunteers have done to make the presentation.”

This is the first time in 23 years that the meet will be held outside Anchorage’s Bartlett High School’s eight-lane pool.

The annual state athletic event that gathers the top swimmers and divers from Alaska’s 4 regional tournaments (Cook Inlet, Mid Alaska, Northern Lights, and Southeast) will be held on November 8-9, 2013 at the Dimond Park Aquatic Center, adjacent to Thunder Mountain High School.

The construction of the DPAC, completed in May 2011, with its 8-lane pool and the quality tournament gatherings that have already been held in the facility were major factors in the decision by ASAA.

Minimum requirements by ASAA for the facility included pool deck space for swimmers, a warm-down pool, a viewing area for fans and adequate parking.

Glacier Swim Club recently hosted the Alaska Age Group Championships and the Southeast Championship Swim Meets. ASAA board members had attended various meets in Juneau as part of their determination.

The parent volunteers of the GSC, the Juneau School District and the City and Borough of Juneau will be hosting the state championships.

GSC coach Scott Griffith stated, “It will be a lot of work because we want to put on a first class show but it is awesome to be able to showcase your swimmers. Not just our swimmers, but Southeast’s.”

In the past five years the Southeast Region has had at least one girls and boys team in the top five final placing at the state championships. When point totals are added, Southeast is the second highest scoring team in the past five years.

“A lot of our families and our community never see that because it is never here,” Griffith said. “They know that just through the results but to be able to show our community, and the whole state, what kind of meets we run and also what kind of talent we have here will be really exciting.”

Juneau swim fans who could not afford the expense of traveling to Anchorage, or the time away from work, can now experience the thrills of the state’s most prestigious swim event by just driving, or walking, to the DPAC.

Many local individuals and organizations have participated in obtaining the event and were involved in the proposal to ASAA. Local businesses including hotels and airlines have offered reduced rates to make the experience more affordable for schools and families outside the Southeast Conference.

While cost for attending participants weighed heavily against Juneau’s selection, prominent Anchorage swim coach Cliff Murray spoke on behalf of the proposal at the ASAA board meeting. Murray is the East High School and Northern Lights Swim Club coach and swam and coached competitively in Fairbanks, where he was born.

Murray said the experience of youth traveling to see other parts of Alaska was a key part of his own high school and club swimming background and experiences.

Juneau School District Athletics Director Sandi Wagner said the prospect of hosting the meet in Juneau was exciting. Wagner attended her final ASAA board meeting on Tuesday as the Southeast Region V representative.

“Every time ASAA runs an event it costs them money,” Wagner said. “You want the events to break even or make money. We are going to work very hard to make sure we make money, break even or lose as little as possible on this event. I think we were able to show ASAA we could cut the costs drastically. So many people in Juneau have been working to make this all possible. Just knowing that Juneau will host this event is really exciting.”

• Contact Sports Editor Klas Stolpe at 523-2228 or at klas.stolpe@juneauempire.com.

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