At the end of this winter the NCAA D-III Swimming and Diving Championship meet will be hosted at The University of Tennessee’s fantastic new Allan Jones Intercollegiate Aquatic Center, completed in 2008. Since it is a new site for our championship meet it may be useful to take an introductory glance before we all head down to the Volunteer State in March. First off, it is part of an extraordinary effort at The University of Tennessee to revamp their varsity and student rec athletic facilities in recent years. While the money spent in athletics has been a point of controversy at a time when the system’s flagship campus in Knoxville is cutting academic departments, the Allan Jones Aquatic Center remains something to take pride in and has already given a shot in the arm to surging Volunteers and Lady Vols swim programs. The new facility is one of three (yes, three) full-size 50-meter by 25-yard facilities on UT’s athletic campus. These include the Student Aquatic Center’s indoor and outdoor facilities (both of which have fully equipped diving platforms) in addition to the the Allan Jones Center.
The NCAA made an outstanding choice in Knoxville as a host city for the meet. As a city whose pulse follows the heartbeat of UT Athletics, Knoxville is used to and prepared for hosting a large number of visitors. So there are plenty of places to eat that are open late (a problem I encountered in Oxford as a spectator in 2008). Parking should be relatively easy as there is a major garage just across the street from the pools and plenty of lots around campus. However, the meet will be going on while UT is in session (their spring break is March 14-18 and the meet is the 23rd through the 26th), so just a heads up.
As I mention above, the pool itself is outstanding and has already built a good reputation as a very fast pool. Deck space should be ample for visiting athletes and spectator seating is on par with that at The University of Minnesota’s Aquatic Complex at around 2,000 seats. For swimmers, word on the street says locker room space–limited to the visitor’s rooms–might be tight. The competition pool is all deep water and can be swum wall-to-wall but I believe in championship format it will be swum from wall to bulkhead, as at Minnesota. It should be an outstanding venue for the meet and a fun host city for those of us coming to just watch.
Dan Kovacs is a 2009 graduate of Kalamazoo College and recently received his Masters in US History from the University of Chicago. While searching for PhD programs, Dan is helping with the swim teams at U of C.