[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id=”98″ gal_title=”RB pool underground”]
The Richards Building pools are set to celebrate a surprising 50-year anniversary thanks to careful maintenance, but the time for more extensive renovation may be soon.
The RB opened in 1965 and included an indoor swimming complex. The pools were expected to last 30 years, the average lifespan of an indoor pool.
“This year, the Richards Building and the pool complex will celebrate their 50-year anniversary,” said BYU Campus Life Operations Manager Conrad Todd. “Surviving 50 years as an aquatic facility is almost unheard of.”
Constant care and daily water treatment tests are a few reasons why the pools have lasted 50 years. Wally Bishop, BYU’s water treatment supervisor, is in charge of all the water on campus. Bishop said the pH readings and the chlorine levels are tested every morning around 8 a.m. About once a week, the water goes through a backwash filter to remove unclean water and bring in fresh water.
The pools are completely drained and refilled once a year due to the high volumes of each pool. The dive well and the main pool hold 200,000 gallons of water, and the shallow pool holds 100,000 gallons.
Some remodeling has taken place because of the corrosive effect caused by chemicals and humidity. The indoor roof has had some repair, and the pipes under the complex were replaced because of deterioration.
“The pipes used to be metal, but they were replaced with PVC and plastic pipes, because they don’t deteriorate like metal,” Bishop said.
The RB pools have held up well, considering the design and use they were originally built for. In the 1960s, a complex was needed to accommodate 13,000–15,000 students. BYU’s student population now consists of about 30,000.
“The pools are packed as soon as they open at 6 a.m.,” said BYU professor and former Division I swim coach RoseAnn Benson. “The complex is woefully inadequate to serve the student body.”
Benson used to frequent the RB pools in the mornings, but because each lane would fill up to four or five people, it was no longer a relaxing swim workout for her. She now swims at the Provo Recreation Center.
The mornings aren’t the only time the pools are packed. Swim classes every semester are completely filled, with long wait lists. The pools are constantly being used by classes, the swim and dive team, the water polo team or students wanting to get in a workout during open pool hours. The only time the pools aren’t occupied is during Tuesday devotionals, because the pool deck is closed.
Because of the age and extensive use of the current pools, a new swimming pool facility has been discussed.
“The university put together a committee that visited several new natatoriums around the country in an effort to glean the best ideas and trends in aquatic design, operating systems and programming,” Todd said. “I’m sure that when the time is right and the university has gathered all the necessary data, a decision will be made regarding a campus swimming pool facility.”
The services provided in order to keep the RB pools up and running have been extensive. Without them, the pools may not have lasted the extra 20 years.
“The length of time that the Richards Building pool complex has been in service is a testament to those that built it and those who have been the stewards of her for all these years,” Todd said.
Many necessary changes made to BYU’s campus because of capacity demands. The Marriott Center recently revealed upcoming renovations, including comfier seats, larger video screens and a new practice facility near the center. With renovations and remodeling on the rise, a new swimming facility may not be too far into the future.