After fundraising efforts within Yale’s swimming and diving community encountered difficulties in raising sufficient funds for a new aquatic center, the University has begun looking elsewhere for the remaining $38 million for the $47 million project.
The project, initially approved by the University’s Office of Development on Mar. 28, 2014, had received $9.1 million in donations as of Oct. 16, according to Yale Swimming and Diving Association President Matthew Meade ’87. Meade is part of a six-person alumni committee, Fast Water in our Future, formed in September this year with the main goal of working more closely with the University and the development office to further the progress of the project, which entails the replacement of the current Kiphuth Exhibition Pool with a much bigger two-pool facility.
In its most recent meeting with the development office on Oct. 16, the committee was notified that the University would begin to look outside of the swimming and diving community for potential new donors, Meade said. Previously, fundraising efforts had focused on a list of just over 100 alumni from the swimming, diving and water polo teams. The University also identified the need to find a lead donor, who would contribute a large share of the project’s budget, in the coming months.
“The Office of Development, [Director of Athletics] Tom Beckett and I have been making best efforts to identify and secure a lead donor for the pool, but have not yet been successful,” University President Peter Salovey wrote in an Oct. 8 letter, obtained by the News, to a three-person alumni steering committee, separate from Fast Water in our Future, that has been spearheading efforts to build a new pool since the project began.
Salovey added that securing a lead donor remains a top priority, and that Yale’s administrators will continue to work closely with Meade and Fast Water in Our Future to ensure the project’s progress. The steering committee for the project consists of swimming alumni Steve Clark ’65, Tim Garton ’64 and Greg Lawler ’69.
Director of Athletics Development Alison Cole ’99 did not return a request for comment on the status of the funding for the project.
Former YSDA President Kristin Krebs-Dick ’93, a member of Fast Water in our Future, stressed the importance of acquiring the necessary funds to make the new aquatic center a reality. She explained that the current Kiphuth Exhibition Pool is universally recognized as outdated, and that Yale cannot host any more than one competing school for swim meets. The new pool would allow for the hosting of the Ivy League Championships, which currently rotate between the pools of Harvard, Princeton and Brown.
The new pool would also benefit those outside the Yale community, Krebs-Dick said, because all Payne Whitney Gymnasium members would have access to it. She added that because its use will extend outside the swimming and diving community, it makes “total sense” to look for potential donors outside that athletic community.
“If you look at the pools at Princeton, University of Texas, Ohio State, all are named after individuals that weren’t varsity swimmers,” Meade said. “Development has said it will pledge outside the swimming and diving program and identify potential donors who want their name on the pool.”
Meade said the project does not currently have a timeline because it depends so heavily on securing a lead donor.
Though a Feb. 24 email sent by Clark to a group of swimming and diving alumni presented the possibility that the University itself would contribute funds to the project, Beckett said last Thursday that University funding is not currently being considered.
“That’s the philosophy of the University, and that’s been the case for maybe a decade, that the University wants all the projects to be donor-funded, and we work to make that a reality,” Beckett said. “That is currently the status of the project.”
Though three swimmers interviewed said that they have enjoyed using the Kiphuth Pool, all three noted the potential benefits of a new pool, including the ability to host Ivy League championship meets.
The current blueprint for the new pool, which is available on the Yale athletics website, shows a nine-lane, 54-meter-long competition pool and a 50-by-70-foot diving pool, as well as a connection to the practice pool that currently resides on the third floor of Payne Whitney. The new pool, replacing the Kiphuth Pool, would require an extension off the back of the location of the current pool, which is on the south side of Payne Whitney and is six lanes by 25 yards.
“I love the [Kiphuth] Pool, and some of the best moments of my career have been in that pool,” men’s swimming and diving captain Brian Hogan ’16 said. “What it lacks in size and new technology, it more than makes up for with character and history. And it’s a fast pool, too.”
Women’s swimming and diving captain Emma Smith ’16 said that the team was notified during the 2013–14 season of the new pool project.
Member of the women’s swimming team Michelle Chintanaphol ’17 said that although Yale’s swimming program provides a “great environment to succeed,” facilities are a major factor when potential swimming recruits choose their schools.
“The current pool is beautiful and historic, and I love swimming in the [Kiphuth] Pool,” Chintanaphol said. “However, the facilities are inadequate for hosting championship meets.”
Member of the women’s swimming team Pauline Kaminski ’18 added that the swimmers have not been given a specific timeline or date for when the aquatic center might be finished.
The Kiphuth Pool seats 2,871 spectators.