Citrus classic mesa

While most of the nation is under a layer of snow, Mesa is putting on a good show over the next few weeks as they host 13 swim teams from across North America to winter swim training and the Citrus Classic Swim Meet on Jan. 7, 2011.

Hosting winter training and developing the winter swim competition, Citrus Classic, was an effort spearheaded by Mesa Sports & Tourism Development, a division of the Mesa Convention & Visitors Bureau and partners Mesa Public Schools, City of Mesa and Mesa Aquatics Club. Modeled after similar winter training events held in Puerto Rico and Ft. Lauderdale, more than 300 athletes will participate in the training - most traveling with coaches, friends and family.

"We recognize Mesa's strengths as a sports destination and strive to be a catalyst when it comes to event creation," says Josh Todd, sports manager for the Mesa Convention & Visitors Bureau. "We boast some of the best swimming facilities in the state and Mesa shines as a winter destination so opening our facilities to these teams at this time of year made a lot of sense."

The winter training was purposely scheduled to take place during the college winter break between semesters. The winter training sessions begin this week and will continue to Jan. 17, 2011 with the Citrus Classic swim meet competition scheduled for Fri., Jan. 7, 2011. The winter swim training will take place at Kino Aquatic Center in Mesa with the Citrus Classic Swim Meet slated for Fri., Jan. 7, 2011 beginning at 1:00 p.m. The public is welcome to attend and admission is free. The Mesa tourism bureau expects to see a positive impact locally with Mesa hotels who currently estimates that almost 900 room nights will be booked over this time frame as a direct result from the event. The bureau and its partners expect to see the Citrus Classic grow every year as more and more teams praise Mesa's swim facilities, which remain heated during the winter season, and tout the destination.

Teams participating in winter training held Dec. 26, 2010 - Jan. 17, 2011 include:

University of Montreal (Quebec, Canada)
River Falls, WI (University of Wisconsin-RF)
Colonie, NY (Siena)
Grand Junction, CO (Mesa State)
 Flagstaff (Northern Arizona University)
 Lincoln, NE (Nebraska)
Stony Brook, NY (Stony Brook)
Kenosha, WI (Carthage College)
Mount Berry, GA (Berry College)
Ames, IA (Iowa State)
Tacoma, WA (U. of Puget Sound)
California, PA (Cal U PA)
Collegeville, MN (St. John's)

Teams competing in the Citrus Classic Swim Meet, Jan. 7, 2011 include:

Colonie, NY (Siena College)
Lincoln, NE (Nebraska)
California, PA (Cal U PA)
Mount Berry, GA (Berry College)
Collegeville, MN (St. John's)
Tacoma, WA (U. of Puget Sound)
River Falls, WI(University of Wisconsin-RF)

This is just one of many efforts the city of Mesa has taken to promote and showcase their aquatic facilities. The next major event will take place in May 2011 when Mesa hosts the US Masters Short Course National Championships in May 2011. The Short Course Championships are expected to draw anywhere from 1,800 to 2,700 swimmers from across the country, including the potential to host former Olympians and those still engaged competitively in the sport. All told, the week-long competition held in May 2011 is estimated to generate up to 12,000 room nights and have an estimated impact of $1.5 million on the economy.