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Supporters allow new pool facility to bring the competition to Cal Poly swimming

By Scott Roark

Swim meets are almost poetic displays of churning limbs, spraying water and motion, a great way to spend a sunny afternoon whether you’re competing or watching from the stands. More of these events will be coming to the Cal Poly campus, thanks to the newly constructed Anderson Aquatics Center, which includes an Olympic-sized pool that will serve as the training facility for the Cal Poly swim team.

New pool at Cal Poly

Cal Poly and UC Berkeley swimmers compete at the first meet at Cal Poly’s new pool complex, in late September.
Photos by Matt Lazier

The facility is named after Dick Anderson, professor emeritus of physical education and a former Cal Poly athletic director from 1963 to 1968. According to former student athletes, Anderson was an inspiration, helping many of them become teachers and coaches in high schools, community colleges and universities. He passed away in 2006.

“Dick Anderson had a dramatic impact on so many Cal Poly students,” said Alison Cone, Cal Poly director of intercollegiate athletics. “It is fitting that the aquatic center bearing his name is a first-class, state-of-the-art facility.”

One athlete that excelled under Anderson’s guidance was the late Gene Lenz (ARCE ’61), the only Olympic swimmer in Cal Poly’s history. Lenz competed in the 1960 Rome Olympics. To honor Lenz’s accomplishments, Lane 4 of the new pool is named after him. In the future, other notable alums will be honored with named lanes.

swim meet

Gene and his wife, Ethel Lenz (MA EDUC 1966), partnered with former Cal Poly swimmer Geoff Capell (PE 1965, MA PE 1966) and other supporters to found the Dick Anderson Endowment, a scholarship for Cal Poly student swimmers. Members of both the Anderson and Lenz families were on-hand for the dedication of the new facility in September, which featured the Gene Lenz Memorial Award for Excellence, given to Cal Poly swimmer Peter Kline.

The generous support of the entire Cal Poly aquatics family has resulted in a facility that will impact generations of future Cal Poly swimmers, fueling the enthusiasm of Head Swimming Coach Tom Milich. “It enables us to recruit at an entirely different level,” he said. “Because of this facility, we can attract better athletes to compete against better schools.”

Last year, Cal Poly took five swimmers to the Olympic trials. Milich’s goal is to take 25.

“We opened up the new facility with a meet against Cal Berkeley – the defending national champions,” Milich said. “Our next goal is to get UCLA and USC on the schedule.”

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Multimedia : Slide show of the new pool.

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The new facility is a Myrtha pool, with nonporous stainless steel on the sides and concrete topped with polyvinyl liner on the bottom. Because it is nonporous, the pool is not as susceptible to algae and requires fewer chemicals and less maintenance. The water stays flat due to the drain-off system. “Every world record in swimming has been set in a Myrtha pool,” Milich said.

The new pool is 50 meters long, 25 yards wide, averaging 6 feet, 8 inches in depth. The deepest point is 13 feet. It holds 800,000 gallons of water. The old pool, which was built in the late 1960s, had only six lanes. This new facility has eight Olympic lanes and 18 competition lanes. One high dive and one low dive are already in place. Another high dive and low dive are scheduled for installation.

The new center also features a 15- by 30-foot therapy pool, kept at 85 degrees.

“Our advocates made this happen – a testament to the value of private support and what it means for our students,” Cone said. “We are forever in their debt.”