Iowa athletics announced on Aug. 21 that both the men’s and women’s swimming and diving programs would be discontinued at the end of the 2020-21 season. The cut came after Iowa announced an anticipated $100 million loss in revenue and $60-75 million budget deficit in the coming fiscal year. Iowa Athletics also cut men’s gymnastics and men’s tennis.
The program is leaving behind a state-of-the-art, Olympic-sized competition pool located at the Campus Recreation and Wellness Center.
The competition pool opened in 2010 as part of a $69.2 million project to build the CRWC. The aquatic space, including the competition pool and the leisure pool, cost $5.5 million. The competition pool was an upgrade over the Iowa Fieldhouse pool, built in 1927, where the Iowa swimming and diving program spent 83 years competing.
The CRWC features many amenities to the pool, including swim team lockers, a swim team lounge, training centers, a “wet” classroom, and seating for 1,200 spectators. The competition pool can be blocked into 50 or 25-meters, and the diving well has 1, 3, 5, 7.5, and 10-meter platforms.
In 2019, the UI spent upwards of $6 million on replacement air handling units, after it discovered that the current units were unreliable and deteriorating. The UI needed to completely replace seven “Poolpak” air handling units — including pumps, piping, and controls — on the competition pool.
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The units were replaced with more traditional air handling units, so UI staff were able to operate the units easier and find more readily accessible equipment in case the units needed repair.
The cost for the renovations were paid through UI Athletic gifts and the “recreation renewal and replacement funds.”
Since the opening of the competition pool at the CRWC, it has been regarded as one of the best pools in the Big Ten. Iowa swimming and diving has hosted multiple high-profile events, including the Men’s Big Ten Championships in 2019 and the Women’s Big Ten Championships in February of 2020.
In March of 2021, the pool was slated to host the NCAA Division I Men’s Swimming and Diving Championships, but the NCAA is reportedly looking for a “new, more deserving site” after the announcement that Iowa would be cutting its swimming and diving programs.
Iowa City and the University of Iowa were expected to generate about $1.5 million in economic impact from the competition.
In an email to The Daily Iowan, the UI Athletic department said that it was “too early to speculate” on the future of the competition pool after the 2020-21 swimming season. Currently, the pool also hosts the IFLY Swimming Club, a competitive youth swim team operated by UI Recreational Services, for practices and meets.
Given the uncertainty surrounding the winter swimming and diving season on account of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Hawkeye men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams may have already hit the Olympic pool at the Campus Recreation and Wellness Center for the last time. If that is the case, the facility within the CRWC will sit dormant and underutilized considering its immaculate nature.