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NEW SWIM COMPLEX : Ground Breaking Scheduled Today for a Major Facility Near Rose Bowl

June 23, 1988|TRACY DODDS | Times Staff Writer

There will be a ground-breaking ceremony in the Arroyo Seco this afternoon for a swimming facility that will do some ground breaking of its own.

The very name of the facility--the Rosebowl Aquatics Center--begins the breakdown of images. For decades, Rose Bowl has meant football, not swimming.

And the plan for the Rosebowl Aquatics Center shows side-by-side Olympic-sized pools, designed for international competition in both swimming and diving. There will also be a warm wading pool. The two-story clubhouse will include weight rooms and party rooms.

Even more unorthodox is the funding for the $4-million project. The center will be a public facility, built with private funds, on public property.

John Naber, a five-time Olympic medal winner and a member of the board of directors for this project, admits that the concept is a little different. But that's why he's so excited about it.

"What the Rosebowl Aquatics Center will do, we think, is take a sport that has long been seen as a country-club sport and make it available to everyone in the community," Naber said.

"It will allow kids to go to a pool to swim for fun and be exposed to elite athletes who are doing serious training. And for the kids who want to join the formal swimming program and train to be a competitive swimmer but who cannot afford to pay for the training, there will be scholarship money available.

"The contract with the city of Pasadena guarantees that 1 out of 10 swimmers in the formal swim program will be given financial assistance."

The city also has been guaranteed that whenever the facility is open, one of the pools will be open to the public at an admission fee consistent with the fees of other city pools.

The idea began with Brian Murphy, coach of an Arroyo-Seco swim team, and Mark Pisano, the father of one of the swimmers on that team. The team had been bounced around from pool to pool and was in search of a permanent home.

Murphy and Pisano joined forces with the Linda Vista Homeowners Assn., which was sorry to see the loss of the Brookside Plunge in their area--the old pool had been condemned and boarded up in 1983--and John Crowley, then the mayor of Pasadena, who wanted to see a new facility built without major cost to the city.

Together they approached the Amateur Athletic Foundation, the organization responsible for distributing the 1984 Olympic surplus to further the development of amateur athletics, with the proposal for building a pool at the site of the Brookside Plunge.

The city agreed to allow use of the site and also to put up $220,000.

The Amateur Athletic Foundation pledged $200,000 toward the building of the facility and $50,000 toward running the swim program, a gift contingent upon the matching of that money by the fund-raising campaign.

The state of California donated $190,000.

With that start, it became the challenge of the money raisers to convince individuals and businesses to donate the rest.

The AFL-CIO agreed to demolish the old pool, which is estimated to be a gift worth $220,000. It is that demolition that will begin today with the ceremony at 3:30 p.m. at the site just south of the Rose Bowl.

To date, $1,627,300 has been raised, giving organizers confidence that they will meet the goal of $2.4 million that must be met by the middle of September. It will take $3 million to build the pool, and another $1 million must be raised to establish a maintenance endowment. The facility is scheduled to be completed next year.

As Naber explained, it is important to have the two 50-meter pools to be considered as a site for international events. FINA, the international swimming federation, requires two pools for Olympic competition, World Championships and Pan Am Games.

There are currently only two sites in the United States that have two 50-meter pools, the natatorium in Indianapolis and the new swim complex in Boca Raton, Fla. In order to hold Olympic competition at the McDonald's Swim Complex on the USC campus in 1984, a temporary above-ground 50-meter warmup pool had to be built.

Most of the time, though, the Rosebowl Aquatics Center will appear to have one 50-meter pool and two 25-meter pools. A movable bulkhead will divide the second pool into a 25-meter by 25-yard recreational pool with graduated depth from 2.5 feet to 4 feet, and a 25-meter by 25-yard diving pool 17 feet deep with a 10-meter diving platform as well as springboards.

The wading pool, designed for children and seniors, will be located next to the two-story clubhouse.

Naber, who has lived in Pasadena since 1977, said the complex will have something for everyone.

"To tell you the truth, we found that there was not a burning interest among people in the community to build an Olympic-type pool for elite athletes," he said. "But this is a pool for elite athletes, for future athletes, for recreational swimmers, for people who want to give the kids time in the wading pool while they swim laps. I think it's a great idea."

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