LOUISVILLE, Kent., October 19. THE University of Louisville broke ground on the Ralph Wright Natatorium on the Belknap Campus today as donors, student government members, university administrators, athletic department officials and student-athletes looked on.
The Ralph Wright Natatorium will feature an eight-lane, 50-meter competition pool with a depth ranging from 4 feet 6 inches to 18 feet. Movable bulkheads will enable the pool to be divided into two 25-meter or 25-yard competition-ready areas. The deep end will feature two 1-meter boards, two 3-meter boards and a tower with diving platforms at 5-, 7.5- and 10-meters.
The 41,000 square foot facility will accommodate up to 800 spectators and athletes. It will include office space, a large meeting/hospitality room and separate locker rooms for the public and for team members.
The natatorium has been designed to be consistent with other Cardinal Park facilities. The building and landscaping will add to the park-like atmosphere on the east side of Belknap Campus.
"The building of the Natatorium vouches for the University of Louisville's commitment to this program and this sport," said Arthur Albiero, U of L head coach.
The $10.5 million facility is the result of a unique fund-raising arrangement. Nearly $7 million of the natatorium funding will come from U of L student fees, to be spread out over the next 20 years. U of L's Student Government Association voted in the spring of 1999 to allow $15 of student fees each semester to be earmarked for the natatorium.
"I take my hat off to the student leadership at this university," said athletic director Tom Jurich. "It is a tremendous statement to have your student body as a full partner in this project. It's unprecedented to have a facility of this magnitude to be erected with the students providing the cornerstone funding."
The Natatorium will be named after Ralph Wright, U of L's first swim coach. A world famous swimmer himself, Wright founded the American Swim Coaches Association and started Plantation Swim Club in Louisville.