The Riverside Aquatics Complex has truly raised the bar for aquatic sports in the Inland Empire and Southern California. In just 18 months the world class facility has already staked the claim as an outstanding venue for major competitions and events.
The RAC hosted the 2012 CIF Southern Section swimming and diving competition from May 7th-12th and the 2012 Southern California Swimming Summer Junior Olympics from July 25th-29th. The Complex is continuing to build this reputation with several other national and international competitions already booked for the near future.
(The following is an article by Greg Patton as published in the Press-Enterprise on July 27, 2012)
The facilities? Great.
The pool? Fast.
The organization of the meet? Terrific.
But those aren’t the only things that impressed Jason Schwarz, head coach of the Los Angeles Swim Club, who brought 50 of his athletes to compete in the massive 2012 Southern California Swimming Summer Junior Olympics at the Riverside Aquatics Complex this past week.
Some of his kids actually were hanging out in the lobby of the Mission Inn, reading about its history. What? And taking walks around downtown. Huh?
“You know how it is with teen-aged boys,” said Schwarz, and we do. “Sometimes they just sit in their rooms with their Xboxes. We’re real pleased coming out here.”
That should come as anecdotal gold to organizers of the meet, as well as city, county and Riverside City College officials – all of whom were hoping that the RAC would have this kind of synergistic effect.
That a new, high-end complex on the RCC campus would attract a variety of large events. That it would develop an image for Riverside as a pool-sports Mecca. That it would boost the number of visitors, and create a favorable impression of the city.
It’s early – the RAC only opened 18 months ago – but so far, it’s looking good.
The facility’s calendar is filling up nicely. In addition to swimming events, such as the recent CIF Southern Section meet and the Junior Olympics, there are synchronized swimming, water polo and diving events on tap. Among them are a national masters water polo tournament next year and an international synchronized swim event in 2014.
“I’ve wanted competition water in this city for 40 years,” said Debbi Guthrie, director of the new Riverside Sports Commission, and once a nationally ranked member of the Riverside AQuettes. “This is going to be a huge economic driver.”
Some 900 swimmers from the Southland and Nevada are in town for the five-day Junior Olympics, helping fill 600 room-nights at local hotels.
The key to this whole enterprise, of course, is the RAC itself. As soon as it was built, it was among a handful of unique pool complexes in the Southland. Its amenities are the multiple diving platforms; the large amount of deck space around the long-course pool to accommodate team tents and spectators; the two scoreboards; the nine competition lanes; and the three auxiliary pools providing 17 lanes for warm-ups and cool-downs.
“I’m thoroughly impressed,” said Travis Tyler, coach of the Boulder City-Henderson (Nevada) Swim Team, who enjoyed bringing his swimmers somewhere other than the usual venues, like Mission Viejo and Irvine. “There are clusters of swimmers around each complex, and this opens up another avenue. It’s good to come to a different locale and (compete against) different swimmers, but the same caliber. Actually, they’ve been faster, so far.”
In fact, the pool has been producing strong times. That’s a big plus for accomplished athletes like the 5-to-18-year-olds who qualified for the Junior Olympics.
Said Tyler, “If there’s a history of fast times, (swimmers) feel comfortable. They want to come back.”
“Kids train all year looking at one (qualifying) number,” said meet director Shari Chun, of the host Riverside Aquatics Association, which also helps manage the use of the complex. “We hope they like coming here.”
“If there’s an opportunity for us to come back, we will,” said Schwarz of his LA team.
Hometown athlete Seva Eagle, of the Redlands Swim Club and Riverside King High School, said he’s heard good things about the venue from his competition, too.
“I am kinda proud of it,” said Eagle. “It’s a pool everyone wants to go to.”
And once they get the swimmers here, who knows?
“It introduces people to a town they probably don’t know much about,” said Tim Sharpe, an assistant with the LA Swim Club. “There’s great history here. I’m sure I’m not the only one who cares about that kind of thing.”
Whatever makes you happy, RAC’s cadre of public and private caretakers are just glad their pool is making a splash.
Riverside is known for big city recreation with a hometown feel and the Riverside Aquatic Center is a state-of-the-art venue available for the entire community to enjoy. As the first 65-meter competition pool in the Inland region, the RAC is a world-class training facility and location of choice for competitive swim, dive, and water polo teams and individual athletes in the Inland Empire. The complex is also recognized as an excellent venue for both national and international competitions and events that attract visitors from across the country and exposes them to the wonderful amenities that Riverside has to offer. The RAC also helps address the growing need for sports medicine and water fitness classes, and swimming education and recreation programs for the community.