Competition-sized pool funding added to Rec Sports Master Plan

The University of Wisconsin-Madison announced Tuesday students will receive a new competition swimming pool as part of the Recreational Sports Master Plan.

The Division of Recreational Sports created the Master Plan this year to address the need for improvements on the outdated recreational facilities on campus.

The $26 million pool will be part of future renovations to the Southeast Recreational Facility portion of the plan. The SERF is slated to undergo construction in 2017 and expected to open in 2019, according to a university release.

The pool’s emergence in the Master Plan is due to additional gift funds, as well as a combination of the $13 million pledged by students through the Associated Students of Madison spring elections.

Another portion of the pool’s funding came from the University’s athletic department, which is expected to benefit from the pool’s existence.

"Athletics has always been a good campus partner, and I'm pleased we are going to be able to assist with the development of this pool," Athletic Director Barry Alvarez said in the statement. "We have good fundraising momentum, but we still have work to do."

The renovation designs place the 50-meter pool on the SERF’s lower level, with room for at least 1,500 spectator seats and the ability to house Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association events, according to the release.

A student segregated fee increase is not required to accommodate the pool or additional renovations, according to Director of Recreational Sports John Horn.

“Based upon our plan we knew that if Athletics and the donors were able to step up with their funding, like they have, that we could adapt the plan and shape the plan enough that we would not have to ask students for more money,” Horn said.

The SERF currently has a pool but it is not regulation sized and does not contain seating. Because of this, UW swimming and diving competitions are held at the Natatorium’s pool, which was built in 1961.

The absence of a competition-sized pool in the initial Master Plan led to concern from many campus members, specifically the UW swimming and diving teams who would not be able to host meets on campus.

Aside from just Athletics, Horn said the pool will be of value to all university students and the campus community in general.

“Obviously it’ll benefit Athletics, but it’s also going to benefit the average lap swimmer as we’ll have the expanded space,” Horn said. “It allows for so much more programming in a diverse capacity than what we currently have to offer. It benefits the Madison community as well as the state of Wisconsin.”

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