Tarleton fulfills long awaited promise for Aquatics Center


Klaire Brock/The JTAC

President Dr. Hurley and students in front of the Campus Recreation Center at the announcement of the new Aquatics Center.

On Sept. 19, 2020, Tarleton State University Administration formally announced construction of the new Aquatics Center. Construction began this month and the center is scheduled to open in the Fall 2021. The multipurpose facility is budgeted to cost $12 million.

The go-ahead to build the new center was given by Chancellor John Sharp and the Texas A&M Board of Regents a few weeks prior to the formal announcement.

“The Aquatics Center will be an addition to the Recreation Center which will be approximately 15,000 square feet and feature an outdoor leisure pool and an Olympic size NCAA regulation pool,” University President Dr. James L. Hurley said.

The construction of the Aquatics Center fulfills part of a promise the TSU administration made to students in 2014. A majority of these projects were just in the first stages of development in Feb. 2014 when students were told to expect to see a Stephenville campus geared toward advancement and knowledge growth by 2020.

A public forum was held May 20, 2014 to gauge how the community and students felt about the proposed plans which included the Lonn Reisman Athletic Center, the Engineering Building, housing changes and a new aquatic center. In 2015 student fees were increased to cover the center’s construction as well as the cost of enhancements of the university tennis courts and intramural fields. The tennis court and field improvements have already been completed.

“The Aquatics Center is something we have talked about for about six to seven years now,” Director of Campus Recreation , Daron Trussell, said.

The Aquatic Center facility will include updated spaces for Kinesiology classes and adjacent locker facilities to enhance the classroom experience. These additions will benefit Tarleton’s growth goals by enhancing the ability to recruit new students through state-of-the-art facilities and amenities.

Tarleton currently has an indoor, heated pool facility built in 1970, located in the Kinesiology Building. There is also a lap pool and dive pool which are not Olympic or NCAA regulation size. These pools are currently used for swimming classes, scuba classes, and water aerobics classes and are open to students as well as the public.

“We have been in the process of officially starting plans for the construction stage of the Aquatics Center for two years now,” Trussell said.

“The Aquatics Center will provide new opportunities for students interested in competitive and recreational swimming, lifeguarding and swim instructor positions as well as the potential for NCAA swim programs,” Trussell said.

In the 2019 to 2020 academic year 9,799 students participated in NCAA swimming. According to NCAA.com the D1 men’s swimming allows a limit of 9.9 scholarships per team. D1 women’s swimming allows a limit of 14 scholarships per team. However, TSU does not currently have plans for a collegiate swim team, but will form a swim club team in Fall 2021.

The new Aquatics Center will have a Division 1 indoor pool (25 yard/eight lane) with bleacher seating, outdoor multifunctional pool with lounge and hardscape areas, pool storage room, chemical storage rooms, wet training lab with storage, first aid office, men’s and women’s locker rooms, family changing rooms as well as a lobby space.

The center will be open to the general public and have the ability to rent the space for both student and community events.

“(The City of) Stephenville does not have a pool currently that can be open during the winter months, this will give the community a space to host parties and let their kids swim in the winter months,” Trussell said.

Since the announcement some students have questioned the use of the space the center will occupy on campus. They have asked why the university has not focused on the parking
shortage on campus, but rather seems to be steadily taking away parking space while continually increasing the enrollment at Tarleton.

Parking lot P51, or the “rec lot” as many students called it, will be reopening once construction of the Aquatics Center has finished.

However, as TSU has made the move to D1, the long-planned Aquatic Center will meet the facility requirement for NCAA as well as fill a gap in the athletic opportunities for all TSU students and the Stephenville community.

It will not be until the grand opening, in Fall 2021, that we truly see what this Aquatics Center will do for the community, Tarleton students, faculty and staff.