A new pool could be in the works for the Texas A&M Natatorium. The already-multi-pool facility will undergo renovations as part of a larger expansion of A&M’s student rec center.
The current plan calls for expansion of weight rooms and fitness centers in the A&M Student Recreation center, with only general renovations to the aquatic center. But the $33.5 million expansion plan still has many moving parts, including several features that could be added on or substituted for a different upgrade based on construction bids.
One of those features would be an indoor 8-lane, 25-yard swimming pool, according to Recreational Sports senior associate director Rick Hall.
“The current renovations will look primarily at replacing all the mechanical systems of the pools,” Hall said. “We’ll be upgrading to more modern high-tech equipment that can be controlled more online.”
Hall cited the pool dehumidifiers and chemical control equipment as two pieces that would be completely replaced with more technologically advanced systems.
In addition, A&M will replace all the tiling on the pool decks, replace lights with high-efficiency LEDs and fully refurbish the two bulkheads, among other things. The aquatics center is in line to get somewhere around $6 to $7 million of project’s overall $33.5 million budget.
The addition of a new pool is still in the bidding process, but Hall estimated the cost to be between $4 and $5 million for a new shallow-water short-course lap pool.
“When we host a big meet like SECs or the NCAA Championships, we displace a lot of groups that use the pool,” Hall said. “Rec swimmers, kinesiology classes, clubs like our water polo club.” The new pool is aimed at providing a space for those groups without taking pool time away from the competitive swimmers.
A&M will know more about the potential new pool on January 25, when construction bids are due. The University plans to break ground in March and finish the renovations by December. The additions to the weight and fitness rooms will happen further in the future, and the pool would likely fit in that same time frame.
A&M already has one of the more well-stocked facilities in the NCAA, boasting a 50-meter by 25-yard competition pool, a 25-meter-across diving well, plus an outdoor 25-yard pool. Building on a fourth 25-yard or greater pool would put A&M in a league with Stanford, whose highly-regarded Avery Aquatic Center already has four separate pools, two of them Olympic size.
Note: A&M also has an additional 20-yard, indoor instructional pool, 5-lanes wide, that was not considered as it’s not really of much use for a competitive pool.