Hillenbrand Aquatic Center (MW Swimming and Diving)For years, the Arizona Wildcats have had a national caliber swimming program. Now they have a facility that complements Arizona's success. Thanks to a generous contribution made by a local businessman William G. Hillenbrand, what was once commonly known as McKale Pool became the William G. and Dolores D. Hillenbrand Aquatic Center upon its dedication in May of 1989.
Even though McKale Pool was an adequate facility for the swimming program, it had aspects that needed improvement. There was no main entrance to the facility and it lacked spectator seating. Any activity in the pool had to take place during the day since there was no lighting. The locker rooms were small, inadequate and had no roof.
Work began in May of 1988 to solve those problems and improve existing conditions at McKale Pool. Construction was divided into two phases.
Phase one was the most extensive of the three. A lobby and main entrance were constructed on the south side of the pool; covered locker rooms and two offices were also added.
A grandstand topped with a bright blue canopy was constructed above the lobby with a seating capacity of approximately 600. Since the grandstand is located on the south side, the canopy provides almost complete protection from the Arizona sun. The grandstand is an ideal vantage point in the short course competition because the student-athletes swim toward and away from the spectators.
Also, a catwalk was built that provides access to three sides of the pool at the grandstand level and increases the total capacity of the facility to approximately 1,000 spectators.
The much-needed lights were also added so that the aquatic center could be used at night and early morning. Existing wiring was also rerouted to allow for greater flexibility in meet management.
Phase two involved the draining and renovation of the swimming pool and diving well. They were retiled and replastered during the summer of 1989 and the entire deck was refurbished. New starting blocks were added, while the poll and diving well were refilled at the beginning of October '89.
The retiling of the pool allowed Arizona to adjust the lane markers on the bottom of the pool so they met NCAA specifications in short course competition and U.S. Swimming Association specifications in long course competition. The pool had 18 short course lanes and eight long course lanes.
The diving well was also equipped with turn targets to add perspective for the divers. In addition, it was equipped with lane line fixtures and starting blocks so that the well could be used for warmups, warm-downs and practice starts when it was not being used for diving.
Phase three involved the remodeling of the diving tower with spiral stairs so that the platforms were more accessible to the divers.
In 1996, the Arizona record board was added to remind current team members and spectators of the rich tradition of Wildcat swimming and diving. The board lists national champions, school record holders and Arizona Olympians.