Wisconsin Shuts Down Old Natatorium ahead of Schedule Amid Coronavirus Closure

The University of Wisconsin is now officially without a swimming pool after the school announced this week that it was closing the existing UW Natatorium permanently.

The pool was expected to remain open until mid-August to begin preparation for demolition, with the new Nicholas Recreation Center and Soderholm Family Aquatic Center scheduled to open later this year. Shutdowns related to the ongoing global coronavirus pandemic, however, has changed those plans. The SERF, which was the school’s indoor 50 meter pool, was closed and demolished to make way for the new natatorium.

“Given the uncertainty of summer operations on campus and the budget needed to prepare the space to meet safety and health standards outlined by the state, the Natatorium will not reopen for any Rec Well programs, activities, or services before demolition begins,” an email sent by the schools’ recreational sports department said. A spokesperson for the rec sports department told SwimSwam on Monday that this included all activities, including intercollegiate athletics.

The school does not yet have an opening date for the new rec center, known colloquially as “the Nick.” Construction on the new facility is basically completed, and the contractors handed the building over to the university a few weeks ago, but it’s not officially open yet. The school is now working on ‘moving in’ to the new rec center and says that they are awaiting instruction from the university on summer operations.

The school says that it doesn’t yet have an opening date for the new recreation center and accompanying pool.

The opening of the new pool has already been delayed by weather. That facility will feature a 50-meter pool and separate diving pool, along with spectator seating for up to 1,200.

The University of Wisconsin Natatorium is an 8-lane 25-yard pool with a separate diving well that goes up to the 5-meter platform. It was built in 1964 as part of a complex that includes other athletic space for the student body as well, including gyms, racquetball courts, and classrooms.

As athletics departments around the country restart voluntary workouts this month, the University of Wisconsin has brought football and volleyball teams back to campus, but not yet the swimming & diving programs.

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3 years ago

Video from the 1965 Big Ten meet at the Nat:


Brad Horner
3 years ago

The Nat opened in 1962. State of the art at the time. Semi deep and separate diving well. 2000 person capacity that was never enough for state hs meets.

Shannon Pritchett
Reply to  Braden Keith
3 years ago
Old sprinter
Reply to  Braden Keith
3 years ago

They hosted the 1965 Big Ten championship meet there. Everyone thought it was state of the art. First time electronic timing was used in my competitive experience. We were all a bit shocked with the slower times (compared to hand held watches)

Cris Williams
Reply to  Brad Horner
3 years ago

All the memories. . .

THE REAL Art Vandelay
3 years ago


Shannon Pritchett
3 years ago

RIP Nat 🙁

Can’t wait to see the new aquatic center

3 years ago

I thought I had read somewhere that their new pool was not due to open until 2021 because of delays. Will this effect their Fall significantly?!

Reply to  Concerned
3 years ago

Pool will be open for swim team in August, idk when entire thing opens. Pools pretty much done

Reply to  Klorn8d
3 years ago

unfortunately i don’t believe this is a guarantee word is pool is still missing a part … delayed due to covid

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of SwimSwam.com. He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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