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#STINGDAILY: Setting The Stage

Dec. 11, 2013

By Matt Winkeljohn
Sting Daily

Courtney Shealy Hart’s time on the Flats has been rewarding, but arguably one of her most satisfying moments came Wednesday when Georgia Tech was awarded the NCAA swimming & diving national championship in 2016.

The Yellow Jackets swimming coach worked tirelessly with school officials and the Atlanta Sports Council to bring the meet to Atlanta.

The fact that the pool played host to the 1996 Summer Olympics and the ’06 NCAAs (one year before Hart was hired at Tech) helped as well.

“We’re super excited; we obviously have a great facility,” Hart said Wednesday. “Atlanta is a great city with a lot of support, it’s easy to get in and out of, there are a multitude of hotels ready to host us, and there are nearby venues like the World of Coca-Cola.

“At the Games in 1996 they had some very fast swims there, and the way they enclosed it and created all that deck space . . . it’s one of the best venues for swimmers to spread out.”

Tech is one of two sites selected to host both the women’s and men’s championships in the same season, and the men’s championship will follow the women’s on consecutive weekends in February of 2016 here in Atlanta.

At the time of the ’96 Games, the swimming and diving facilities were open air. Soon afterward, they were enclosed and became the property of Tech on the far west side of campus alongside intramural fields. Part of it is the Campus Recreation Center.

“The Aquatic Center is a world-class venue and will provide a perfect setting for this event,” Tech athletic director Mike Bobinski said in a statement. “Competitors, coaches and fans can look forward to an exciting and first-class championship here in 2016.”

Multiple large events staged by USA Swimming and Diving have been held at the Tech facility so it will not be new to the big time. Many of the most famous names in the sport, including Michael Phelps, have competed there at one time or another.

The ACC championships will be at Tech in 2015.

Georgia Tech actually bid to host multiple years. After the committee voted a couple months ago, their recommendation went to the NCAA Swimming and Diving cabinet for final approval.

“[The committee] typically talks about the good and bad with the national meet, and how we can make it better,” Hart said. “Most of the time the committee is not going to give all three years to one site [when voting on championship venues]. They want people to move around.”

Tech has been a host or co-host for NCAA championships before, including men’s golf last spring/summer, previous men’s and women’s basketball Final Fours, and even gymnastics a few years ago.

“We are thrilled to partner with Georgia Tech,” said Atlanta Sports Council executive director Dan Corso said in a statement. 

“Given Atlanta’s history of hosting intercollegiate events, along with boasting two NCAA Corporate Champions and one NCAA Corporate Partner, we are confident that the entire region will provide support to ensure that this championship is a huge success.”

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