Student Aquatic Center

The 71,677-square-foot Student Aquatic Center was completed in May 1967 at a cost of $1.7 million. It was paid for entirely by funds allocated from the Student Programs and Services Fee to retire construction bonds, and was dedicated November 11, 1967.  The architects were Lindsay and Maples, and the contractor was Tipton and Reynolds.

The facility, originally designated as the “natatorium,” gained its name through a contest held among students. The “Student Aquatic Center” was the name chosen over such other entries as “Andy’s Swimming Hole,” “Middle Hudson Field,” “Aqua Knox,” and “Aquadome.” Three entries, submitted by Warren Scott (junior from Kingsport), Bill Griffin (freshman from Maryville), and Jim Dearman (sophomore from Smithville) were declared to be finalists. The finalists’ names were inscribed on a plaque inside the center, and the three students participated in the dedication ceremonies. The complex includes two Olympic-size pools, one indoor and one outdoor, both of which are 50 meters long and 25 yards wide, with separate areas for diving.  When built, the indoor facility featured a separate diving well with a five- and a ten-meter tower, two three-meter boards, and two one-meter boards. The indoor facility had a seating capacity of two thousand. The outdoor facility had a tower with platforms at five, seven and one-half, and ten meters, along with two one-meter and two three-meter boards. Dressing room facilities and a weight room were available for men and women.

At the informal opening of the outdoor pool on May 19, 1967, eighteen silver dollars were thrown into the pool, representing the 18,000 students enrolled at the beginning of the year in which the pool was built, and 35 students braved the 50 degree temperatures to dive for them. Those who got them kept them. On the 10th anniversary of the opening of the facility, the silver dollar scramble was repeated, a clown show was held, and swimming and diving exhibitions were presented.

In 1982 the aquatic center was host to the groundbreaking dual meet between the USA and the USSR. The Student Aquatic Center and the University of Tennessee were the training center for the 1972 US Olympic women’s swimming team and for the 1980 and 1996 men’s and women’s Olympic teams.

The indoor pool is named the Ray A. Bussard Intercollegiate Swimming Pool in honor of the legendary coach hired in 1966 to bring swimming back to UT after an absence since 1959.

With the opening of the Allan Jones Intercollegiate Aquatic Center, the Student Aquatic Center was no longer used for intercollegiate competition.

Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Title Student Aquatic Center
  • Betsey B. Creekmore
  • Author Kevin Heinrich
  • Keywords Student Aquatic Center
  • Website Name Volopedia
  • Publisher University of Tennessee Libraries
  • URL
  • Access Date September 27, 2022
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update November 10, 2018