As we celebrate our USA Olympic Swimming and Diving teams competing in Tokyo this summer, let us remember the many athletes who trained at Forest Park Aquatic Center over the last 90 years. Diver, Tyler Downs, along with his Olympic coach John Wingfield, are currently in Tokyo as the eighteen-year-old represents the USA in the Olympics. Since opening day in 1931, FPAC has been a public facility with the support of generations of community leaders, elected officials, coaches, athletes, parents, managers, and staff. When athletes reach the highest level of competition in the world, they carry with them the backing of the community from their local training facility.
It is believed that the first ever Noblesville swim meet occurred on September 6,1932 at the Forest Park pool. The star of that day was Noblesville’s own Joe Butler who recorded seven, first place finishes. Joe may be the first FPAC athlete who went to the Olympic trials.
In 1974, following the leadership of Hamilton County Parks Board President, Edward McMahon and Hamilton County Parks Department Superintendent, Terry Busby along with the City of Noblesville took competitive swimming and diving to the top level with the construction of the Olympic-size 50 meter pool and 17’ deep diving well, complete with 1 and 3 meter spring boards as well as a 5, 7 and 10 meter diving platforms. Since the official opening of the Central pool on July 23, 1976, the facility hosted and provided a public training facility for thousands of athletes from Indiana, other parts of the our country, and many from abroad.
The 1982 Junior Olympic Diving Championships were held at Central Pool. It showcased some of the best divers in the world. In August of 2020, the AAU Diving National Championships were held at FPAC, More than 200 AAU divers competed for the title of nation’s best. Ripfest Diving Clubs, men and women, both accrued the highest team score in each gender.
John Wingfield, who runs the Ripfest Diving program at FPAC, was the head coach of the US Olympic diving team at the 2008 Games in Beijing. He said, “We have had eleven Olympic divers come through our programs since 1998 and have trained at the Forest Park Aquatic Center off and on over those years. David Boudia and Steele Johnson being Hamilton County residents, while Mary Beth Dunnichay from Elwood, Thomas Finchum from Indianapolis, all Indiana natives The remaining list consists of Kelci Bryant from Illinois, Haley Ishimatsu from California, Ariel Rittenhouse from California, Jessica Parratto from New Hampshire, Mai Nakagawa from Japan, and the most recent two to qualify Jordan Windle from Florida and Tyler Downs from Missouri. Eleven in all, so far.”
According to Friends of Central Pool Board member, Greg Conner, gold medal Olympic diver David Boudia’s first dive off a three meter spring board took place at the Forest Park Aquatic Center. David made the transition from gymnastics to diving after breaking a bone in his foot. Under the supervision of his long-time coach John Wingfield, David called the Forest Park Aquatic Center his home pool through out his diving career. He competed for Purdue University and participated in diving camps for age group athletes at the FPAC. Boudia will soon be Downs’ coach at Purdue, where Downs is heading in the fall and Boudia was hired as a full-time assistant coach for the Boilermakers last month.
Lacey Boutwell, a Noblesville Swim Club athlete, competed at the US Olympic Trials. She qualified in 2000 and 2004 and her best finish was 21st in the 100 meter freestyle with a time of 56.99. Lacey started swimming at FPAC when she was seven years old. Noblesville Swim Club official Mickey Smythe has been selected several times to officiate at the Olympic Trials. Most recently, he participated this past June in Omaha.
Matt McDonald swam for SSC (Southeastern Swim Club) who trained at FPAC until their indoor 50 meter pool was built in the early 2000s qualified for the 2001 Olympic Trials. He finished 13th in the 100 meter butterfly with a time of 54.68.
Carmel Swim Club had eight athletes and alumni participate in this year’s Olympic Trials and two actually qualified for the US Olympic Team. Many of the Carmel swimmers trained at FPAC last summer during COVID. JoJo Ramey from FAST (Fishers Area Swimming Tigers) qualified for the trials. She trained at FPAC last summer and competed in the Enchanted Forest Swim Meet in past years.
Sammy Huff, representing Noblesville High School, won the 2020 Indiana High School Championship title in the 100 breast with a time of 1:02.87. She not only trained at FPAC with the Noblesville Swim Club but was also a lifeguard. Sammy will be competing for the University of Tennessee this fall.
In July, 2021 FPAC and the Noblesville Swim Club hosted the Indiana Age Group State Long Course Meet as the top swimmers from Indiana and other parts of the country competed and set records at the pool. Noblesville Swim Club members placed well. Liam Hayward finished in third place in 200 IM for 11-12. Allie Amsden, finished in third place in the 50 free and sixth place overall in the 10 & under group. Bryce Conner finished in 4th place in the 100 back in the 10 & under.
This week, Noblesville Swim Club athletes and Noblesville High School students, Luke Whitlock and Aidan Biddle travelled to the Futures Championship meet in Alabama to compete and sophomore Maya McDonald qualified for the meet. Aidan swam a PR and club record in 100 breast, close to PR in 200 breast, PR in 200 IM. Luke swam a PR and club record in 1500, PR in 400 IM, PR and club record in 800. This summer, he also represented Team Indiana at the Central Zone Open Water Championships in Wisconsin competing in the Men’s 5K race and finished in third place. Luke is qualified for the Open Water Junior Nationals in Florida in April of 2022. There may be an Olympic swimmer in this group in the future. They train at FPAC during the summer and compete at host meets.
Many of the Olympic swimmers and divers are current high school and college students. There are opportunities for high school and club athletes to compete at roughly 500 swimming colleges across all the major athletic divisions: NCAA Division 1, Division 2 and Division 3, as well as NAIA and junior colleges. Recent Noblesville High School graduate, Jack Wolfred, is a member of the Ball State University swim program.
As you watch your favorite diver or swimmer compete at the Tokyo Olympics, listen to their stories and where they started the journey to the biggest competition in the world. The Ripfest Indiana Diving Academy is open to young athletes, starting at age eight. Ripfest offers free diving lessons each Saturday morning starting at noon. The Noblesville Swim Club offers swim lessons beginning at age four with club membership open at age six. This year new mixed team Olympic events including the 4 x 100 medley relay in swimming were added. We know only a few athletes will make it to the Olympics but being part of the competitive swimming and diving community is a lifelong love of the water and the people who are committed to being part of it. Cheer on Tyler Downs and Coach Wingfield in the 3 meter springboard event on August 2nd and 3rd and celebrate FPAC’s newest Olympian!