FMC Natatorium in Westmont tabbed as new home for IHSA state swimming finals
Featuring an Olympic-size competition pool, FMC Natatorium in Westmont opened in 2020 and is one of the premier facilities of its kind in the Midwest. The State Finals will be co-hosted there by Hinsdale Central High School and Hinsdale South High School beginning with the 2021-22 school year and encompass the 2022-23 and 2023-24 state final meets as well.
"FMC Natatorium is honored to be selected as the new location of the IHSA swimming & diving state championships," said FMC Natatorium Director of Facilities Dave Krotiak. "We hope to carry on the traditions, excitement, and quality of the events established by the IHSA. Hinsdale School District 86 is the perfect host with a strong leadership team led by Dan Jones (Hinsdale Central) and Art Ostrow (Hinsdale South). A special thank you to Evanston Township and New Trier High School for the many years of supporting swimming and diving student-athletes' dreams."
FMC Natatorium is a state-of-the-art venue that features spectator seating for 1,400, a deck capacity of 800, warm-up and cool down pools, and a video scoreboard with an integrated timing system.
"We have followed the progress of the FMC Natatorium ever since MaryAnn and Mark Kaufman announced their vision for this facility," said IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson. "We recognized that the amenities of this natatorium would make it ideal to hold what is regarded as one of the top high school swimming meets in the country. We believe this is where the Illinois high school swimming and diving community wants the state meet to be held, despite the incredible history that has been made at New Trier and Evanston. We are excited about the future at FMC Natatorium, while looking back with nothing but fondness and appreciation for all that New Trier and Evanston have contributed."
New Trier first hosted the IHSA boys swimming & diving state finals in 1937 and has hosted the event more than any other venue in state history. New Trier hosted consecutively from 1943 to 1957, before rotating those responsibilities with Evanston Township beginning in 1958. Aside from two years at Hinsdale South (1982, 1986) and one at Downers Grove South (1980), every boys state meet has been held at New Trier or Evanston since 1943. The IHSA girls state finals debuted at New Trier in 1975, and aside from one year apiece at Downers Grove South (1976) and Downers Grove North (1979), has been conducted at New Trier or Evanston every year since.
"It has been an honor for New Trier High School and Evanston Township High School to jointly host the IHSA boys & girls swimming & diving state finals," said New Trier athletic director Augie Fontanetta, who also serves on the IHSA board. "It is a unique and special experience to be associated with the history and tradition of this amazing state tournament. However, this is the right decision for the high school swimmers and divers in our state. FMC Natatorium is a world-class facility and offers a significant number of ancillary benefits for competitors and spectators. I look forward to seeing our student-athletes compete there as we write the next chapter of IHSA state swimming & diving in Westmont."
Esports state series established:
The IHSA will hold its first esports state series in April of 2022 with the inaugural state tournament featuring three titles: NBA2K, Rocket League, and Super Smash Brothers.
"It is exciting any time that we can expand the IHSA mission by offering another opportunity for students to represent their schools in competition," said Anderson. "We appreciate the time and effort put forth by our staff and the committee members who helped get us to this point."
Esports becomes the 10th activity offered by the IHSA, joining bass fishing, chess, debate, drama & group interpretation, speech, journalism, music, and scholastic bowl. The addition of esports brings the IHSA's total state series offerings to 41 total sports and activities.
"Not unlike when the IHSA added bass fishing, some may question how esports fits into the IHSA's offerings, but we never wavered in our belief that we want to align the association with the interests of our high school students," said Anderson. "Research shows that there are educational, mental, and social benefits to having students compete for their high school in any activity or sport, so we look forward to Illinois high school students who are passionate about esports being able to enjoy those benefits."
The IHSA's esports state series will be held during weeks 42 and 43 of the standardized IHSA calendar (April 17-April 30, 2022). The association staff will begin the process of finding a state final host venue immediately and bring a recommendation to the board later this year.