Three years after Tulane closed Reily Natatorium — initially due to COVID-19 and then for “scheduled maintenance” — the Green Wave released their first update on the pool’s long-awaited renovation.
Among the upgrades are a new pool, pool deck, diving platforms, Myrtha liner system, air and water filtration systems, revamped locker rooms, and movable bulkheads that allow for SCY, SCM, and LCM training. The facility is expected to open and ready for use by “early fall” of this year.
Back in 2018, an audit of the Reily Natatorium revealed that the pool “finish, bulkhead condition, air quality, and pool water treatment systems were all found to be in poor condition.”
“I so appreciate the commitment our administration has made to upgrade Reily,” said first-year Tulane head coach Amanda Caldwell. “The addition of the new air and water filtration system was our highest priority. A big factor in our sport is air quality. Anyone who has competed in a pool with poor air quality knows that hardship.
“This project is transformational to our group of elite student-athletes who can train and perform in their own first-class facility.”
The past two seasons have been challenging for Tulane without access to its on-campus facility. The Green Wave traveled 10 hours a week in order to practice at a temporary facility.
“I signed to be a Division I swimmer with the expectation that I would have access to top-notch training, coaches, and facilities,” current Tulane junior Riley Hendrix wrote last season as a sophomore. “I lose sleep, study time, and sanity making our daily commute to pools that are nowhere near up to D-I standards.”
All-American Lilly Byrne and American Athletic Conference (AAC) runner-up Christiana Williams both left the program last year along with assistant coach Kosuke Kojima and head diving coach John Sirmon. Then former head coach Leah Stancil resigned a day before Tulane’s fall semester started to take an assistant coaching job an hour up the road at LSU.
Without a stable training environment, top recruit Isabella Lojewski saw her times regress during her first season in New Orleans. She entered the transfer portal earlier this month.
“We aspire to provide our student-athletes with facilities that enhance their competitive experiences,” Tulane athletic director Troy Dannen said. “The complete renovation and modernization of the Reily Center natatorium will afford them the opportunity to participate in a national caliber venue.”
The Green Wave finished last out of nine teams at the 2023 AAC Championships. They were 3rd out of 5 teams at the 2022 AAC Championships.
Tulane’s swim program isn’t the only program on campus impacted by the Reily Natatorium’s prolonged closure. Swim 4 Success is a student-run program at Tulane that offers free swimming lessons to low-income New Orleans youth, but it was forced to stop in June of 2020.