MEMPHIS, TN — The University of Memphis held a ribbon cutting ceremony and grand opening for the $12 million Mike Rose Aquatics Center on Monday, April 17 at the UofM Student Recreation and Sports Complex at 624 Echles St.
This one-of-a-kind facility is named in memory of late entrepreneur and philanthropist Mike Rose.
“One of the first things I learned after becoming president of the University of Memphis a year ago was the impact that the late Mike Rose and Mike’s family has had on the University of Memphis and our community as a whole,” said UofM President Bill Hardgrave. “It was with Mike’s vision and through the Rose Family Foundation that the world-class Mike Rose Aquatics Center will become a beacon for our community.”
“Many Olympians, most notably Mike’s daughter, Gabrielle, have trained in this building under the late legendary Coach Dick Fadgen, who we are also honoring with the dedication of the Dick Fadgen Pool. I want to thank the tremendous generosity from Memphis Tiger Swimming, Splash Mid-South, YMCA of Memphis and the Mid-South, the State of Tennessee, Shelby County Government, FedEx, Belz Foundation and other supporters who made today and the future of swimming to benefit our community possible.”
The Aquatics Center was made possible by a unique partnership between the UofM, Memphis Tiger Swimming, Splash Mid-South, YMCA of Memphis and the Mid-South, the State of Tennessee, Shelby County Government, FedEx, Belz Foundation and the Rose Foundation as well as other private and individual philanthropic support. The facility will be used by Memphis Tiger Swimming, Splash Mid-South and the UofM community.
“We are delighted to have this facility completed and ready for our community to enjoy,” said Joanna Curtis, vice-president for University Advancement at the UofM. “Mike Rose was passionate about creating a world-class aquatics facility that will benefit our entire community. We are grateful for The Rose Foundation working together with organizations across the Mid-South to make Mike’s vision a reality.”
A dedication for the Dick Fadgen Pool will also take place during the celebration. Fadgen coached the Memphis State University Swim Club. Beginning in 1971, Fadgen built one of the most respected competitive swim programs in the country, producing Olympic medalists, Olympic Trials qualifiers, National Championship finalists, Southeastern champions and college scholarship recipients.
Fadgen was instrumental in the development of original design of the pool and envisioned many of the recent updates. Along with the Dick Fadgen Pool, some of the additional named spaces in the Aquatics Center include Assisi Foundation Training Pool and the Hyde Foundation Natatorium Office.
Renovations to the Center included increasing the pool length, improved mechanical and water handling systems, handicap access and expanded seating. The increased seating will make the facility appropriate for training and for regional swimming competitions, the only one of its kind in the Memphis area.
The Mike Rose Aquatics Center will enhance the robust aquatics program in the heart of Memphis to promote water safety and enrich community health among diverse populations by highlighting the importance of water safety and drowning prevention. Drowning is a leading cause of death among children ages 1-4. African American children ages 5-19 drown in pools at a rate 5.5 times higher than that of white children.
Among the project’s goals are providing free or low-cost swim lessons to children, led by Splash Mid-South; introducing swimming to low-income and minority youth to improve the diversity of Memphis Tiger Swimming; offering free CPR classes to UofM students to encourage information sharing with the community; generating revenue for the local economy from visitors who attend swimming competitions and enhancing community relationships through research on drowning prevention.
The ribbon cutting and grand opening ceremony will be livestreamed. For more information visit memphis.edu/campusrec/aquatics.