Jacksonville 1 of 6 finalists to host 2016 Olympic swim trials

Trials would be held at Veterans Memorial Arena

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Jacksonville is hoping to make a splash with the Olympics.

City leaders have learned the city is one of six in the running for the 2016 Olympic swim trials. The others are Greensboro, N.C., Indianapolis, Ind., Omaha, Neb., St. Louis and San Antonio, Texas.

Mayor Alvin Brown announced Tuesday that USA Swimming officials will be in town to look at what Jacksonville has to offer for Olympic swimming. Brown thinks the River City will be able to pull it off with no problem.

"Jacksonville is in it to win it, and we need your support," he said. "As mayor of Jacksonville, I am asking all the business leaders, civic leaders to support us in this effort."

Omaha hosted the last two swim trials in 2008 and 2012. It takes about a week to build a temporary pool in an arena -- swim trials in Jacksonville would be held inside Veterans Memorial Arena -- and it's a shared partnership with the host city and USA Swimming.

Olympic swimmer John Sakovich said he has no problem with the temporary pools.

"It was a great pool. It was an amazing facility with being able to have the competition, and the warmup pools indoors are climate control," Sakovich said. "There is plenty of space for the athletes and spectators and everyone else. It works best."

Olympic swimmer and coach Sergio Lopez Miro is now coaching at the Bolles School and says Jacksonville has a good chance at the trials. He was in Omaha and says Veterans Memorial Arena will work as well as theirs did.

"I think this arena will be even nicer because it cozier and will make people feel like they are right there," he said. "Omaha was nice but was very spread out. So I think we have an edge."

The city hopes to find out by late spring or early summer if it's selected.

According to a list of pros and cons for each city, Jacksonville was not ranked high in the swim community, but a pro is the city is easy to get around. The cons are the airport is not a major hub, and being on the East Coast is not convenient for those from the west to get here.

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