May 15, 2013
BERKELEY - The UC Board of Regents approved the plan to build a new aquatics facility on campus Wednesday afternoon at its meeting in Sacramento, a project that will benefit Cal's swimming & diving and water polo programs as well as the entire campus and neighborhood swimming community that currently uses Spieker Aquatics Complex.
Fundraising for the $15 million center is underway and work will begin once the entire amount has been committed. The donor-based construction and financial model guarantees that the campus will not incur any expense or debt to complete the project. Construction could begin as early as August 2013, pending final design approval, and is expected to take 12-15 months to complete. The pool will be located in a parking lot west of the Tang Center between Bancroft Way and Durant Avenue, a site approved by the campus Capital Projects Committee following its standard review process.
Currently, Cal's four intercollegiate programs in men's and women's swimming & diving and men's and women's water polo share Spieker with hundreds of student, faculty, staff and community swimmers on a daily basis. Once the new pool opens, the Golden Bear teams will move many of their practices and some of their competitions to the new location, freeing up capacity at Spieker to better accommodate recreational swimmers, master's swimmers and PE classes. There are also plans to host camps, clinics and other special events at the new facility that will be available to all.
The centerpiece of the new pool would be a 52-meter by 25-yard pool, complete with a moving bulkhead and the campus' first 10-meter Olympic-style diving tower. Low-profile buildings would house men's and women's locker rooms, along with a team meeting room and multipurpose room. Though primarily intended for training, the planned center would feature a deck that can accommodate 500 spectators on moveable bleachers for occasional competitions.
Cal is one of only three NCAA schools, along with Stanford and USC, to sponsor all four aquatics programs and together Cal's teams have combined for 20 national championships and 90 Olympic medals, including 13 of Cal's total of 17 medals at the 2012 London Games. Despite their overwhelming success, they have been constrained by a lack of capacity for both training and competition, both in terms of times available for practice and competition and the amount of water space. The new facility will alleviate that pressure, providing more time and scheduling flexibility for the Golden Bear teams and an increase pool time for campus and community swimmers at Spieker.