The pool at the Kate Kuhns Aquatic Center will be making a lot of splashes this weekend for the Region III Swim and Dive Championships. Nearly 275 athletes from 14 schools from as far away as Nome, Unalaska, Valdez and Cordova, have landed in Homer to participate in the meet.
The much-anticipated region championship has been three months in the making for Homer High School Athletic Director Pam Newton and her team.
“This event takes the entire school and a lot of organizations to put on something of this calibre,” said Newton.
Tournament Director Anita Harry has been working with the parents, coaches and officials to get everything ready for the big weekend.
“It takes a bit to put this on. It feels like there are more people involved in running it than there are participating in it,” said Harry. “To give you an idea of the amount of people it takes to do this, we need 12 timers on deck at all times, plus standby timers for relief, there are seven dive judges, and at least two dozen more people between the referees, announcer, computer people, T-shirt sellers and hospitality room volunteers.”
It’s a big job for a high school of less than 400 students to host an event of this size. Suffice it to say, Newton and Harry are glad the opportunity comes along only once every six years. The last time the Regions were at Homer was in 2006.
“They like to alternate Regions every year — north-south, north-south. Last year they were held in the north at Palmer, this year it is in the south at Homer, and next year it will go back north …,” said Newton.
The high school won’t be the only place feeling the chaos. With 274 athletes registered and at least 100 to 150 more people in the form of coaches, parents and chaperones, the entire community of Homer will benefit.
“For regular season meets or games, we can usually host the teams at the school and the kids sleep in the gym, but this meet is so large we can’t host the teams at the school so all the teams will be staying and eating in town,” said Newton.
The Homer Chamber of Commerce has contacted the athletic director at each of the invited schools to offer their services on the where to eat, sleep and play while they are in town.
“According to the Alaska Visitor’s Statistics Program, normal visitors to Homer spend about $102 per a day. If we have about 350 people coming for two days, that’s a $70,000 shot in the arm for our Homer economy,” said Homer Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Monte Davis.
For Homer, where the boom and bust of tourism is as clockwork as the salmon run, winter tourism — which includes high school and community sporting events — has the potential to keep Homer’s year-round restaurants, lodges and tourist attractions in business.
“That’s why we worked so hard to get that Homer track redone. These kinds of events are huge, especially in the winter,” said Davis.
Fat Olive’s Restaurant is one of Homer’s establishments that historically benefits from these types of events.
“Anything like that coming to town always gets the restaurant really crazy. It’s always a rush to make enough pizzas for the hundreds of hungry kids,” said Shoshana Wilhite, pizza maker at Fat Olive’s.
The Region III Swim and Dive Championships events are free and open to the public. All swim and dive competitions will take place at the Kate Kuhns Aquatic Center. The event is sponsored by Quiet Clinic, a cooperative between Harmon Hall of Quiet Place Lodge and Bill Bell of Homer Medical Clinic.
Thursday, October 25
5:30pm – Female Dive Preliminary
7:30pm – Male Dive Preliminary
Friday, October 26
9:30am – Female Dive Semifinals (top 10 divers)
11am – Male Dive Semifinals (top 10 divers)
3pm – Swimming Preliminary
Saturday, October 27
1pm – Swim and Dive Finals
200M Medley Relay
Volunteers are needed to help with the Regions III swim/dive meet, which started today and runs through Saturday. Anyone interested in helping can contact Mo Wilkinson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 299-3573. Supporters also are welcome to cheer on the athletes during the meet.