State swim meet will bring thousands to Marshalltown

The YMCA-YWCA has been preparing for an event that will bring thousands of people to Marshalltown this weekend.

The Marshalltown YMCA-YWCA will host the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union State Swimming and Diving Meet Friday and Saturday.

“It’s a big deal and we love it,” said Shelly Lechnir, aquatics director of the YMCA-YWCA. “It takes months to get ready for a meet like this.”

Lechnir said it takes about 100 to 150 volunteers for the meet and the event will house at least 2,000 people.

“It affects Marshalltown,” Lechnir said. “Our hotels get booked, our restaurants are filled, this is a huge asset to Marshalltown to have this meet.”

Shannon Espenscheid, Marshalltown Convention & Visitors Bureau director, agrees.

“Our 300 hotel rooms we have in town, they are full for that,” Espenscheid said. “In addition to that they go out to eat, they might do some shopping, they’re going to stop to get gas and that sort of thing.”

Espenscheid said the tourism office estimates each traveling party that will come to Marshalltown will spend about $200 and that money is good economically for the city.

“Because it’s a larger event and any time we have an event in Marshalltown whether it’s a swim meet, BBQ championship or things happening at the fairgrounds, we bring in those people and they fill all the hotel rooms,” Espenscheid said. “That’s a huge bonus for Marshalltown.”

She said every hotel or motel has to pay a tax and the money from that goes to help advertise Marshalltown.

The Marshalltown YMCA-YWCA has been hosting the boys’ and girls’ state swim meets since 2004.

“One of the reasons that the state chooses to have the swim meets here, and many other events throughout the year, is because of the hospitality we have,” Espenscheid said. “A lot of people volunteer and help out during the event. I think Marshalltown is really good at that and they need to be commended for that.”

Espenscheid said the citizens of the city are supportive of all the events in Marshalltown.

“No matter what event it is that’s going on in Marshalltown, the Marshalltown people really do support it,” Espenscheid said. “They get out and they make people feel welcome.”

Lechnir and staff of the YMCA-YWCA have been spending this week doing last minute cleaning.

“The cleaning that we’re doing is like when you’re cleaning for a family dinner or guests coming over to your house. You know it’s going to get messed up anyway, Lechnir said. “People aren’t going to ever see it, but you clean it anyway.”

The diving meet will start at 5 p.m. Friday and the swimming meet will start at noon Saturday.

Tickets will be sold at the door from the Iowa High School Girls Athletic Union for $8. On Saturday, tickets can be purchased at 9 a.m.