BYU has announced its final plans for a new aquatic center that will replace their current pools that are more than 50 years old, and at least some alumni aren’t pleased with the plans.
The current pools were built in 1965, and the school has deemed them to be “aging to a point beyond repair.” So the school has decided to use the same aquatic facility, and simply overhaul and completely replace the actual pools themselves.
The new pool will be a 42 yard x 25 yard course with a movable bulkhead.
“…the pool will also allow for more flexible training as well as intramural activities,” the school said in a press release.
BYU will also build a second smaller pool (no dimensions were released in the final plan) that it says “can be used for a variety of activities, including teaching and training purposes.”
Original plans also included seating for 500.
The press release says that the new pool will meet NCAA dual-meet regulations, and that construction will begin in March and continue through the fall semester – with the swim teams practicing at off-campus facilities in the meantime.
While the press release points out that the new facility increases available water space by 50%, some alumni still believe it’s too small to support both the undegraduate enrollment of more than 30,000 and two NCAA varsity swimming and diving teams.
“Disappointment is an understatement. A lot is said in the release that simply isn’t true,” 2015 graduate and former BYU swimming team captain Michael King said of the plans. “Not once did BYU consider a 50 meter facility like what was discussed with numerous recruits over the last 10-15 years. These plans are what they originally had planned with the exception of keeping the warm up pool.”
King said what’s even more frustrating is that the alumni requested the ability to fundraise or donate for a larger pool, but were denied that opportunity – and widespread petitions for a different plan were ignored.
“Alumni have asked and pleaded to allow them to fund-raise however BYU has not allowed anything like that to go forward. BYU has had success at the national level with sub par facilities for quite sometime and our only wish was that the school would help grow the program like what they had indicated they would for the past 20 years. Many feel as though this will inhibit growth not only for the college program but for local clubs and high schools as well.”
Other universities with similar enrollment numbers to BYU have much larger facilities:
- University of Georgia, with an undergraduate enrollment of 36,500 (and the defending NCAA Champion women’s team), has the Gabrielsen Natatorium. The facility, opened in 1996, has a 50-meter competition pool, a separate diving pool, an instructional pool, and seating for 2000 spectators.
- University of Florida, with an undergraduate enrollment of 35,000, has the O’Connell Center, with an 8-lane 50 meter pool, in addition to 3 other pools on campus (all outdoors, and only one suitable for any level of training).
- University of Illinois, with an undergraduate enrollment of 33,000, has a 50 meter by 25 yard course in addition to an outdoor 50-meter 4-lane pool. The school only has a women’s varsity swim team.
- The University of Michigan, with an undergraduate enrollment of 28,000, has Canham Natatorium, with seating for 1,200, and 8-lane 50-meter pool, and a separate diving well – opened in 1998.
- USC, which like BYU is a private school, has an undergraduate population of only 19,000, but still has a 50 meter by 25 yard competition pool and a separate 25 yard by 25 yard diving pool (albeit both outside). The facility is newly renovated to the tune of $16 million – a steep bill for an outdoor facility.
The decision leaves the state of Utah devoid of a crown-jewel aquatic center. The University of Utah has an indoor 50-meter pool, but is only 3.5 feet deep on one end.
There are 2 known indoor 50 meter pools near Salt Lake City – one at Southern Utah University (which has no swim team) doesn’t have any spectator seating,