Omaha 2021: Pool Deck Swimming Stories
Wave II of the American swimmers ‘qualifications for Tokyo has begun, as well our guests’ tours at the CHI Health Arena in Omaha to see from behind the scenes all the details of the two Myrtha pools installed for this event which marks the return of the public to major swimming competitions.
And right from the arena of Omaha Aaron Gabriel, Midwest coordinator for Myrtha Pools USA, ex-swimmer and ex-sports journalist helps us learn about the main event of the most successful swimming federation in the world:
“Myrtha Pools is privileged to be a partner with USA Swimming and help give our sport the amazing spotlight it deserves.
It will be interesting to see how the pandemic affects this year’s meet, in a big-picture way. It is obvious that there will be great racing and performances, but an important storyline to any selection meet like this one is how those who have decided to extend their years as active competitors will fare against all the hard-charging newcomers.
It was some of the same vibe at the one and only Trials meet I raced in, way back in 1984. In that instance, the 1980 team had been denied the opportunity to compete in the Moscow Games. As a result, many of the athletes were sticking around to try one more time and earn a spot to actually race in Los Angeles. The net effect was that a great many amazing athletes who otherwise would have called it quits were still in the game.
As an 18-year-old, it was quite an intimidating on-deck experience.
I will never be able to forget my first warm-up session in the wonderful Indianapolis natatorium. Somehow I’d convinced myself that because of the exclusivity of the meet, there would be plenty of space and the warm-ups would be sedate and serene.
Instead, it was just about like every other big meet I’d ever been to – crowded. And the energy in the building was just amazing.
So perhaps I can be forgiven for what happened next.
On that first lap of warm-up, I was charging ahead, completely unaware that the swimmers had paused in place ahead of me as part of a backup near the wall.
I crashed directly into the backside of the male swimmer in front of me.
“Sorry!” I sputtered.
“No prob,” came the retort, with a laugh, from Ambrose “Rowdy” Gaines.
Of course, Mr. Gaines went on to become a fixture in the sport beyond his amazing accomplishments as a competitor, as he is easily the most recognizable media personality ever associated with world-class swimming.
But beyond Rowdy, the deck was crawling with those I’d idolized for just about my whole swimming career. There goes Caulkins, Float, Hogshead, Lundquist, Meagher. I mean, it was more than a little breathtaking.
As always, time moves on. (…)
Fortunately, time has not passed up Myrtha and its key role in making this event such a success.
No other pool-building method can be so nimbly yet reliably constructed in accordance with the demanding specifications required for world record certification.
So – welcome to the CHI Health Center in Omaha.
It is Myrtha Pools’ pleasure and distinct honor to provide the pools for this timelessly classic event”.