BYU’s plan to build a new pool hits rough water; students, alumni launch online petition

PROVO, Utah – Upgrade or downsize? There’s division over BYU’s plans to makeover the aging pools at the Richards building. Thousands are showing their support for a larger pool by signing an online petition.

For decades, BYU swimmers and divers have made a splash at the Richards Building.

Michael King was a member of the 2014-2015 team.

“BYU is up and coming," he said. "They've consistently been in the top 20, top 30 in the country the last couple of years."

King believes their legacy is now in jeopardy. He helped launch an online petition after BYU leaders recently revealed plans to upgrade the facility. But critics say it looks more like a downgrade.

Right now, there are three pools, and 2,000 seats for spectators. Petitioners say the school wants to tear those down and replace it with one, 8-lane pool and seating for 500 people.

“We need to grow the sport of swimming, and by downsizing one of the best facilities that can host big deal events in the state is not the way to do it,” King said.

BYU leaders sent Fox 13 the following statement:

“We are currently looking at the needs of our aging pool facilities in the Richards Building. However, we are still very early in the design process and have not finalized definitive plans.”

King says a smaller pool will turn off top recruits.

“The plans that they've proposed would make the BYU pool worse than almost any high school pool that has been built in the last five years," he said.

He worries other community organizations that use the facility could also suffer.

“There's not gonna be much space for these adaptive programs for kids who are handicap,” King said.

King believes a middle ground can be reached, as long as they have a chance to weigh in.

“Our whole goal is to make it so that those who know the sport, who are involved, and who are going to be impacted the most, get a say in the design of the new pool," King said.

King says he and other alumni would like to hold fundraisers to help pay for the pools, but says BYU would need to give them the green light first.