Not long ago, one of my teammates handed me another piece of rubble from the Kalamazoo College pool deck. It’s not shocking to Hornet swimmers anymore, and not surprising for a facility that opened nearly half a century ago. Our natatorium is a beloved space, home to many conference championship teams, hall of famers, and national champion alumni—but a hallowed space whose time has well passed.
That’s why the piece of rubble in my hand—brown and lumpy and an image of decay—is nevertheless a source of optimism to me, for a new natatorium is in the design stage. The K community needs to raise the funds, and the $4 million raised so far means we’re about a quarter of the way to goal!
The conceptual plans, once they’re a reality, will mean that for the first time in decades, the team can train together—all swimmers and all divers at practice at the same time (!), boosting our camaraderie and unity as a team.
The nearly 38,000-square-foot facility would include 10 short course lanes for competition, six extra lanes for recreational use, two three-meter diving boards and two one-meter diving boards, classroom and dryland space, and seating for 350 spectators.
The facility will appeal to the eyes of prospective athletes and students as well, allowing us to recruit a broader range of swimmers and divers from across the nation, maintaining the program’s long tradition of excellence and building a stronger name for Hornet swimming and diving in the MIAA and in the NCAA.
The new natatorium will benefit more people than Hornet swimmers. The new pool will be a key component of the fitness and wellness of the entire campus and the community. For example, the Center for Civic Engagement’s “Swim for Success” program, a learn-to-swim opportunity for children without access to lessons, could increase its numbers from its current cap of 50 kids. The greater Kalamazoo community would be able to use the space for high school meets, club teams, educational programs, diving teams, lifeguard classes, and sports camps. USA Swimming could host meets for swimmers from all across the nation—another opportunity to shine a light on K, considering no other natatorium in Southwest Michigan is capable of hosting these events or classes.
What all the chunks of rubble made me realize more than ever: we’re moving onto bigger and better things. As a sophomore on the current team, odds are I won’t compete in the new facility. That doesn’t really matter to me. The future of the Swimming and Diving program, the future of K, and the future of the new space does matter. Although I’ll miss the retro and rustic feel of my pool (I may even miss the rust), the new natatorium carries an extraordinary potential for greatness. And that greatness will allow us to grow as a team, as an institution, and as a community.
Please join me in making this happen sooner rather than later.
You can make a gift to the new natatorium and hear from former Hornet coaches Bob Kent, Lyn Maurer and Kathy Milliken with a visit to our website.