MADISON – A new $26 million competition swimming pool will be included in the renovation of the Southeast Recreational Facility (SERF) on the campus of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Plans for the renovation will include moving the SERF pool to the lower level of the facility and creating a venue capable of hosting a variety of competitive swim meets, including Badger swimming and diving and WIAA state swimming.
The addition helps realize requests from students and the local swim community that a pool be incorporated into the SERF renovation design. Construction will begin in 2017 and the new pool is expected to open in 2019.
The pool will be funded through a mix of gift funds and $13 million in student fees approved in the March Recreational Sports referendum. Students have agreed to fund 50 percent of the project up to $13 million dollars. Beyond that commitment, no additional student fees will be levied to allow for its construction.
“This new pool will help us provide top-notch facilities for our student-athletes,” says Chancellor Rebecca Blank. “We have always had a strong tradition of diving and swimming and I am proud that this pool will help continue that tradition for many years to come. We are thankful for the support of our students, the athletic department, and the donors who have made this possible.”
The 50-meter competition pool will include a platform diving tower and diving well, have a minimum of 1,500 spectator seats, and be able to accommodate WIAA events. The new pool also allows for at least eight additional lanes for recreational lap swim, as well as increased programming opportunities for Rec Sports, including basketball courts. It will link with new student-athlete locker rooms, lounge space and support facilities dedicated to the UW Swimming and Diving teams that were constructed as part of LaBahn Arena.
The current SERF pool does not have spectator seating and cannot host meets. Competitions have been able to take place only in the 25-yard Natatorium pool built in 1961.
The University of Wisconsin Department of Athletics has agreed to make a substantial financial commitment in order to help fund the pool, Director of Athletics Barry Alvarez says.
“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,” Alvarez says. “We have good fundraising momentum, but we still have work to do.”
A number of donors have pledged their support of the SERF pool project and those commitments now make it possible for athletics to move forward in assisting with the renovation.
In March, students voted in support of the Rec Sports Master Plan that will significantly upgrade campus’ heavily used recreational sports facilities. The project includes the construction of a new SERF, Natatorium and two outdoor playing fields over the next eight years. The possible future addition of the pool was granted under the terms of the referendum.
“The addition of a competition pool was something envisioned by UW students from the conception of this plan, and recreational and athletic users alike should feel very fortunate that the funding from students, athletics and donors has come together to provide UW-Madison with a first class collegiate pool,” says John Horn, director of the Division of Recreational Sports. “This amenity addition only contributes to the state-of-the-art recreational master plan that is set to begin in the near future.”