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Meet Nathan Adrian this Weekend

3/27/2013

Nathan Adrian (medium)By Mike Gustafson//Correspondent

The NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships are a festival celebration of swimming. Yes, the weekend is about watching fast swimming. But it’s also one of those rare weekends when swim fans from around the country can meet, mingle, and talk swimming. There will be gatherings and after-meet hangouts. There will be entire age group teams in the stands, coaches from yesteryear, casual fans, and even those die-hard swim fans who filled out their “swim brackets.” There will be numerous superstars in the stands and on pool decks. (I hear Bob Bowman is going to be in attendance, among others.) Fans will also have the opportunity to meet one of the most successful and decorated Olympic swimmers (and fan favorites): Nathan Adrian.

That’s right, swim fans. Nathan Adrian will be on full display this weekend as part of a free event hosted by the USA Swimming Foundation at this weekend’s NCAA Championships held in Indianapolis.

On Saturday, from 4pm-6pm at the NCAA Conference Center, swim fans will have the opportunity to  to learn about the USA Swimming Foundation, meet with Nathan Adrian, National Team Director Frank Busch, eat some complimentary food, and celebrate the sport of swimming. It’s completely free and open to the public. And it should prove to be a great time.

Free, fan-friendly events like this are what makes swimming unique from other sports. In so many other areas of athletics, fans must pay to have access to certain celebrities and superstars. You don’t see free, public events at the Super Bowl to hang out with Payton Manning. You don’t see free events at the NBA Finals to meet and mingle with Michael Jordan.

Foundation Saving Lives Building Champions (white)But this USA Swimming Foundation event allows anyone who’s in Indianapolis the opportunity to meet Nathan Adrian and talk with him about his epic, .01 100 freestyle gold medal victory from last summer’s London Olympics.

The USA Swimming Foundation hosted a similar event last weekend for the women’s NCAA Championships. And last summer at the Olympic Trials, there were these types of meet-and-greets at the Aqua Zone, one of the great fan experiences in any sport, period. In order to stay viable and connected with fan bases, Olympians must be not only connected over Facebook and Twitter to their heroes, but also get the chance to meet them, get caps signed, interact, and take pictures. I still remember meeting Rowdy Gaines a long time ago when I was 12-years-old. (I still have the signed swim cap to prove it.) I remember meeting Gary Hall Jr. at the 2000 Olympic Trials. I remember when Janet Evans came to my age group club team pool and signed autographs. These are lifetime memories for age group swimmers, memories and interactions they never forget, even when they grow older.

If you’ve never been to the NCAA Championships, and you live even remotely within an afternoon’s drive of Indianapolis, you should go. From an insider’s perspective, I’ve heard that many big-time retired swimmers will be in attendance. The meet itself could prove to be one of the more thrilling in a long time, as some are projecting Michigan to run away with the title, a feat they haven’t done since 1995. Something tells me they’ll be challenged. It’ll take some of the fastest swimming in the history of yards to win the overall team title. It should prove to be an outstanding weekend of the world’s quickest swimming.

But more than that, the weekend will be a festival. A celebration. Swimmers, divers, parents, coaches, and fans converge (ironically the same time as “Sweet 16” NCAA basketball games) to celebrate some of our sport’s finest student-athletes. And there’s no better way to do that than by meeting one of the world’s best swimmers, Nathan Adrian.

Capacity at this event is limited, please RSVP in advance. If you want to attend, just email Mel Stewart @ mel.stewart@sbcglobal.net , by phone at (310) 420-5232, or by text at (512) 656-8806.