A Mecca of Olympic Sports: Phoenix, AZ

Backstroke Blog Tour & Giveaway

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OlympicPassions_LogoLG_BlackWhen the Olympic Training Center was first announced in 2010, many locals scoffed at the idea; a 200,000 square foot facility built solely to train gymnasts, swimmers, and divers, for the sole purpose of attending the Olympics? The chatter didn’t die down with the 2014 announcement of Dorian Stuart, former Olympic gold medalist, coming to coach gymnastics at the Center. The past ten years have churned out many national champions in gymnastics, swimming, and diving, turning Phoenix into a first-class training ground for the next Olympians.

Nestled in the hills of Ahwatukee, just southeast of Phoenix proper, the Olympic Training Center (OTC) is home to the Elite Gymnastic Center (EGC) and the most comprehensive training pools for swimmers and divers in the Southwest. Ten years of operations have seen both national and international champions pass through its doors and continue on to Olympic glory. While Phoenix may not seem like the logical choice for hard, strenuous training when summer temperatures average triple digits, OTC has made a name for itself with its state-of-the-art equipment, pools, gyms, and even dorms for those that move to Phoenix specifically to train.

With the 2024 Olympics fast approaching, all eyes have turned to the Center. Four years ago, only one diver and one gymnast made the Olympic team from OTC, an unimpressive number for a facility that hosts over 100 Olympic hopefuls. This year, hopes are high for both gymnasts and swimmers.

With the addition of Dorian Stuart as coach, the EGC began turning out champions almost immediately. This year’s hopefuls include Auden Lancaster and Trace Moreau, who both medaled at the World Championships in gymnastics in December and are frontrunners to make the Olympic team next month. If they make the team, this will bring Coach Stuart’s number of Olympic gymnasts up to six.

Perhaps Phoenix’s most favorite pastime, swimming fits in naturally at OTC, with swimmers coming from all over the country to use the training facilities. Transplant to Phoenix, Tiernan Pace, uses OTC to gear up for another Olympic run. This will be Pace’s second try at making the Olympic team, after failing four years ago. Pace is a world champion in freestyle and backstroke, and statistics put him at the top of the pack this time around. In addition to Pace, OTC also hosts Dylan Hoffman, butterfly champion with record-breaking times, and Sam Hunter, a champion in breaststroke.

Diving also holds a place of prestige at OTC, with five diving pools built specifically for Olympic training. Athletes here hone their skills with daily practice and additional time in the gym to maintain those thin but strong frames. Divers such as Jonathan Harris and Natalie Germaine have proven they’re in it to win it with numerous medals and world championships under their belts. They’ll be the ones to watch this June at Olympic Trials and beyond.

Deep in the desert, the Olympic Training Center boasts some of the best athletes in the country, and only time will tell if the 2024 Olympics will reflect that fact. From gymnastics to swimming to diving, Phoenix has become the place to be for Olympic hopefuls. Athletes flock to the Center for some of the best coaches in the country, the best facilities, and the best chance of an Olympic run. Making a name for yourself isn’t easy but Phoenix has done it, and the Olympic Training Center looks to be the best training center, starting in the US and aiming for the world.

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