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City hopes for big splash from NCAA swimming events

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More than 500 student-athletes from 90 universities nationwide are expected to attract about 10,000 spectators to Indianapolis this week for the NCAA Division III men's and women's swimming and diving championships.

The event runs Wednesday through Saturday at the IU Natatorium at IUPUI.

This year's event starts a six-year deal the city signed two years ago with the NCAA to bring the Division I, II and III swimming championships to Indianapolis between 2012 and 2017. Each division will have its championships here twice in that span. It's the longest deal the NCAA ever has signed for its top swimming events with a single host city, NCAA officials said.

“This adds a really unique event to our sports landscape, and we expect the economic impact to be substantial,” said John Dedman, spokesman for the Indiana Sports Corp., which helped organize the event. “It’s a little early to tell what attendance will be for this event here this year, but the NCAA swimming championships have a history of drawing a good crowd from those that follow the sport.”

The NCAA considered several cities for its swimming championships after it put out a request for proposals more than three years ago.

Indianapolis was chosen because of its central location, recent upgrades to and overall quality of the IU Natatorium and the city’s strong swimming fan base, NCAA officials said.

Officials for the Indianapolis Convention and Visitors Association haven't estimated the potential economic impact from this year's event, but local tourism officials expect eight figures in direct visitor spending over the six-year deal.

Next year, the Natatorium will host the NCAA Division I swimming championships. In 2014, the Division III championships return, followed by a two-year run of the Division II championships. In the final year of the deal, the Division I championships return in 2017.

“It’s quite an accomplishment for the city of Indianapolis to land all these events,” said Chuck Wielgus, executive director of Colorado-based USA Swimming. “It speaks to the strength of this community in terms of not only competitive swimmers but overall fans and supporters of the sport. I expect this event to do very well there.”

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