JACKSONVILLE, Fla -- The city of Jacksonville wants the road to the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro to run through the River City. City leaders plan to bid on the 2016 swimming time trials. And a team from Jacksonville spent last week in Omaha scoping out the process.
The River City is a swimming community with former Olympic stars of our own. Leaders say time trials would provide the city and the state with lasting exposure.
"It was something like I've never experienced, you felt the American pride," said the city's Director of Sports and Entertainment, Alan Verlander of being in Omaha for the event.
Swimming time trials won't happen again until 2016. And when it does, Jacksonville wants to play host. Plans are already in the works to craft a way to convert the Veterans Memorial Arena into an aquatic center.
"We could easily do it in our arena and put it all together. You build a temporary pool and it takes about a week to do that," Verlander said.
Alex Michaels with Visit Jacksonville also made the trip. He's been pushing to get time trials in Jacksonville for years and says after witnessing it first hand, he is sure the River City's Veterans Arena is the perfect fit.
"It's a smaller facility but in this case smaller will be better. You don't want to have it too big and not have sell out crowds every night," said Michaels.
Verlander wasted no time filling Mayor Alvin Brown in on their experience and the potential. And as the proud dad of his own young swimmers, Verlander says Brown is all in.
"We are going to try to do everything in our power to go get it," Verlander said.
Bids open in September. Jacksonville will likely place its bid in January. We will find out if the city is selected in June.
And even more exciting, if Jacksonville is chosen, a local swimming superstar will get the chance to seal his Olympic fate on home turf. Ryan Murphy is a 17-year-old at Bolles. He missed qualifying this year in one event by a second.