Knoxville Aquatics Center to expand

Knoxville, Tennessee – The YMCA of East Tennessee is teaming up with Tennessee Aquatics for an $8 million capital campaign to fund a state-of- the art aquatic center, double the size of the West Side YMCA’s existing building and add needed parking. Their collaboration will also allow for high-quality masters and youth swimming training at all local Y branches.

“This a citywide partnership and we’ll work with Tennessee Aquatics on all the latest training and water curriculum,” said Jim Dickson, CEO of the YMCA of East Tennessee. “It’s going to be fantastic. Our menu of programs will go from introduction to the water through Olympic training.”

The capital campaign was announced at a press conference today. More than $2.4 million in leadoff gifts have already been raised and the Y hopes groundbreaking for the West Side Aquatic Center can be held in October. A ribbon cutting is tentatively scheduled for late 2018.

The 29,000-square- foot aquatic and wellness facility will be built on the site of the West Side Y’s outdoor pool. Projected to cost $5 million, it will feature two pools with different water temperatures, a combined total of 20 swimming lanes, plus locker rooms and wellness space.

Renovations to the existing building are expected to cost $3 million. The West Side Y’s indoor pool area will be transformed into needed program space. Changes will include a 3,000-square- foot Child Watch Center and playground, more than 85 parking spaces, a new driveway connection and other updates.

The proposals depend on the success of the capital campaign.

One of the largest youth sports organizations in Knoxville, Tennessee Aquatics is the premier organization for area master-level swimmers and has trained a number of Olympians.

“This is a win-win for everyone involved and we couldn’t be more proud of the collaboration,” said Davis Tarwater, president of Tennessee Aquatics’ Executive Committee and an Olympic gold medalist.

Tarwater began swimming at age 9 for Pilot Aquatic Club, which later merged with Tennessee Aquatics.

“This will enable us to take the next step in fulfilling our mission, which is really to help provide access to competitive swimming and its benefits to as many people as possible,” said Matt Kredich, head swimming coach at the University of Tennessee and executive director of Tennessee Aquatics. “Right now we enjoy one of the best facilities in the country with UT’s Allan Jones Intercollegiate Aquatic Center. This will provide an additional facility with easy access that will allow us to expand our presence in West Knoxville.”

Marshall Goldman, chief executive officer of Tennessee Aquatics, said the organization will be able to provide a standardized program influenced by a college head coach who has had swimmers participate in two of the past three Olympics. He also noted that Tennessee Aquatics has an 85-year- old world champion on its team.

“We’re also excited that this is not just a pool project,” Goldman said. “We’re going to help be part of the continued growth of the YMCA. Parents will now be able to spend that time taking a class or working out at the Y while their kids are at swim practice.”

Dickson said the West Side YMCA, which was built in 1969, is the most-popular local Y and serves around 10,000 members.

“We’ve known for a long time that we need to expand and this will allow for a higher quality experience for our members,” he said. “The West Side Y has been open for 50 years and it’s definitely had a lot of Knoxvillians go through its doors, learning to swim and playing in youth sports. Now it’s time to get ready for the next 50 years.”