California Aquatics Center to open with first campus diving tower after delays

Timothy Dawson/Staff

Related Posts

The California Aquatics Center — originally scheduled to open in June — is now expected to open at the end of September after construction delays.

Once completed, the center will function as an intercollegiate sports facility only open to campus aquatic athletic teams for training. It will feature a 52-meter training pool with a bulkhead and the campus’s first-ever diving tower, according to campus Real Estate Division spokesperson Christine Shaff.

According to spokesperson for the campus’s aquatic sports Herb Benenson, the construction project is still within schedule, which projected construction could take from 12 to 15 months. Shaff said the original construction timeline was “aggressive” and that heavy rain last winter led to delays in the excavation process.

In the meantime, UC Berkeley diving teams use the Spieker Aquatics Center at the Recreational Sports Facility for practice and commute twice a week to Stanford University to use its diving facilities. Former women’s diving team member Eleanor Smart said the commute was difficult, but with its own diving tower, the team could attract world-class divers to UC Berkeley.

“I think this new pool will open the door for Cal diving in general to become one of the powerhouses in college diving,” Smart said.

The facility will be located on the corner of Bancroft Way and Fulton Street, adjacent to the Tang Center. Before it’s opened for use, Shaff said the facilities require additional work including testing the heater and water pumps.

Construction began on what used to be a parking lot with more than 200 spaces for campus permit holders. According to Shaff, 49 parking spaces will be returned in the parking lot adjacent to the California Aquatics Center once construction is finished, but there are currently no plans by the university to build additional parking facilities.

Benenson has previously said the new facilities will free up as much as 40 hours each week for recreational swimming at the Spieker Aquatics Complex in the RSF. The project, which cost $15 million, was privately funded by Cal Aquatic Legends, a nonprofit group headed by UC Berkeley alumni. It was approved by the UC Board of Regents in 2013.

UC Berkely senior and former captain of the women’s swim team Elizabeth Pelton said she had been waiting for this pool to open since she was recruited in 2012. She said the swimming team is excited for its opening and that with all the success that UC Berkeley has had at the Rio Olympics, this new facility will only move the team forward.

“It opens a new chapter for Cal Aquatics after all the success they had,” Pelton said.

Kailey Martinez-Ramage covers higher education. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @kmartinezramage.