Texas A&M University has announced planned renovations to their swimming & diving team spaces, which makes the 2nd aquatics upgrade for the program in the last 3 years.
Following a national trend of trading out old-school stacked metal lockers and bare bench for cozier locker rooms that function more as a social and living space than just a spot to shower and change, A&M will build new locker rooms, coaches offices, an athletic training room area, dryland training space, and a “fueling station” (sort of like a snack bar).
“We are really excited for this facility. Excited for what it means to our student-athletes and that so many former students are a part of it’s happening,” said head men’s swimming coach Jay Holmes. “Texas A&M does such a great job in athletics facilities. Anything that gets built here is done first class and immediately becomes an icon for that program. Once completed, I know everyone who gets to be in it will appreciate what a great addition it is for A&M Swimming & Diving. Much thanks to everyone who helped, but especially Anne and Hank. Their vision of it has driven this project since it began. It’s going to be a great addition for us.”
“I’m very excited about the new facility renovation. I’d like to thank the 12th Man Foundation, all of our donors and our athletics department,” said head women’s swimming coach Steve Bultman, who has served on 2 U.S. Olympic Team staffs. “Our men’s and women’s teams will have first class locker rooms, a team room, a dryland training room; our athletic training room will now be at the pool and the coaches offices will be there too. We are also excited to have an amazing entryway where we can show off team accomplishments and achievements from individual stars. This will be a huge help to our teams as well as recruiting.”
The new facility will be named the Anne & Henry B. “Hank” Paup ’70 Aquatic Center. The renovations are ready to get under way, as social media posts indicate that athletes have already moved out of their existing spaces. While the pool itself, which hosted the 2009 NCAA Championship meets, belongs to the school’s Rec Sports department, the money for new facilities were fundraised by the 12th Man Foundation – the school’s athletics booster club.
“When I was on the swimming team at Texas A&M (1966-70), I could never have imagined having the opportunity to contribute back to the swimming & diving program with this expansion to our current world-class natatorium,” said Hank Paup, Class of 1970, a Fort Worth attorney and former member of the swimming team who made a significant contribution to the renovations. “The addition of locker rooms, coaches offices and training facilities will greatly enhance the resources our student-athletes need to train and compete at the highest level. Anne and I are honored to be in a position to share some of our lifelong blessings in order to lead on this project.”
The Paups have previously made a $125,000 donation to the Texas A&M Foundation to establish a scholarship endowment for students pursuing law degrees. A former member of the school’s Corps of Cadets ROTC program, Paup set the school record in the 1650 free at the 1969 Southwest Conference Championships.
The most noticeable change to the facility, seen above, will be an exterior lobby that will provide athletes, coaches, and fans with a designated entrance. Previously, spectators had to enter the facility through the main recreation center. The lobby will include large graphics about the history of the program and a trophy case.
More descriptions of the renovated facilities, courtesy Texas A&M Athletics.
The team locker rooms will see a significant upgrades as each student athlete-will have a solid-surface locker with wet and dry storage areas. The locker rooms will be accessible off the pool deck and feature a wet storage area upon entry. The men’s and women’s locker rooms will be separated by a shared 840 square-foot team lounge and fueling station. A large sectional sofa, TV, tables and chairs will fill the lounge area, while a center island, custom snack display, refrigerator and separate pantry on the other side of the room will put a plethora of healthy snacks and refueling options in arms-reach for student-athletes on the go.
A 1,000 square-foot, rubber flooring athletic training room and rehab space will be added in the new Aquatic Center. It will include a hydrotherapy room, space for rehab equipment, athletic trainers offices, a physicians exam room and TVs. The hydrotherapy room will feature two custom in-ground hot and cold plunge pools.
The Aggies will add a dryland training space that will include a 20’x25′ in-ground foam pit with three diving boards, as well as a 16′-6″x42′ tumbling area with a gymnastics spring floor. A 10’x17′ in-ground trampoline pit and a 12’x15′ above-ground landing mat with two diving boards will be added for top-level diving training.
Coaches offices, coaches locker rooms and visiting locker rooms round out the project. Seven coaches offices as well as a conference room will be added off the entryway to the building and put the coaches and student-athletes under the same roof for the first time. The visiting locker rooms will see renovations similar to the A&M team locker rooms, allowing more designated space for visiting teams and club teams.
Those visiting club teams are a crucial component of this renovation: Texas A&M hosts a lot of major club meets, including Sectionals, and showing off new locker rooms to club swimmers could pay big dividends in recruiting.
Before the 2017-2018 season, the program also opened a new 8-lane 25-yard training pool to help relieve the strain on the school’s other 3 pools. That project is estimated to have cost around $4 million, and came along with refurbishment of the bulkheads in the primary 50 meter pool.
The Texas A&M women are the 4-time defending SEC Champions.