PROVO, Utah – A group of BYU alumni says the swimming program is in jeopardy because the school isn’t willing to invest in building a suitable pool facility.
For the past 50 years, BYU students, athletes and local schools have used the pool at the Richards Building, and its age is starting to show.
Administrators plan to knock down the three pools and 2,000-seat spectator area and replace it with a design that combines it with the dive tank and competition pool. The new pool will be slightly larger than what’s in place now. They’ll also put in a movable wall.
In a statement, BYU said: “With the new design, BYU gains a facility that is almost 50-percent larger in water capacity and allows for much greater flexibility. The new pool incorporates a moveable, floating platform between the diving and swimming areas. At 42-yards long by 25-yards wide, the pool also allows for more flexible training as well as intramural activities.”
Michael King, a member of the 2014-2015 BYU Swim Team, says the changes are more of a downgrade.
“There's just not going to be enough pool to go around for everybody who uses it," King said.
He says administrators lured recruits by promising them a bigger facility to train in, but nothing has come to fruition.
“BYU's Men’s program finished 21st last year," King said. "They were the highest ranked team without a 50-meter facility. Every team in front of them has a 50-meter facility to train in, BYU does not."
Last year, alumni gathered thousands of signatures petitioning the school to reconsider their plans. They offered to help with fundraising, but King says they were completely shut out of the process.
“That's the biggest frustration," he said.
While alumni are happy the school is keeping the warm-up pool, they believe the program’s future is uncertain.
“There's been a lot of comment that I've received from people not affiliated with BYU that think this is very telling of the University of how they feel about Olympic sports,” King said.
Construction begins in March and may last until the end of the year. The school says swimmers will have to practice off-campus. Some alumni say it won't be easy for athletes to train because local resources are limited.
The full statement from BYU regarding the pool upgrade is below:
"BYU has finalized design plans for a new pool that will fit in the current space of the university’s existing aquatic facility. The new design will continue to serve both the university’s aquatic programs and BYU’s intercollegiate swim programs.
As a university pool, the aquatic facility serves many purposes and is used by the entire university community, including Athletics, academic classes, teacher-training courses, the service-learning adaptive aquatics program and more than a thousand students who are involved in BYU’s intramural swim programs.
Over the past several months, campus organizations that utilize the pool have been meeting with physical facilities planners to finalize plans for a facility that would replace the university’s aging 25-yards long by 20-yards wide pool. The current pools were built in 1965 and were aging to a point beyond repair.
With the new design, BYU gains a facility that is almost 50-percent larger in water capacity and allows for much greater flexibility. The new pool incorporates a moveable, floating platform between the diving and swimming areas. At 42-yards long by 25-yards wide, the pool also allows for more flexible training as well as intramural activities.
Additionally, BYU will be adding a second smaller pool that can be used for a variety of activities, including teaching and training purposes.
The new pool meets regulations needed for NCAA dual-meet swimming competitions. BYU will continue to host NCAA dual meets in the existing aquatic facility, with the added advantage of being in a new pool.
Construction on the new pools will start in late March and will continue throughout Fall Semester 2017. During this time, BYU’s swim teams will practice at off-campus facilities."