Rolfs Aquatic Center (M Swimming & Diving, W Swimming & Diving)

Rolf's Aquatic Center
Rolfs Aquatic Center

Quick Facts
Purpose: Practice & Competition
Sq ft: 45,000
Pool Size: 50-meter Olympic Pool
Capacity: 400
Year Opened: 1985
First Meet: December 6, 1985 Men's and Women's Notre Dame Relays
Cost: $4.5 million

The Irish swimming and diving teams compete in the state-of-the-art Rolfs Aquatic Center. After 27 years for the men's swimming team and four years of varsity intercollegiate swimming competition for the women's team in the Rockne Memorial Pool, the Notre Dame men's and women's swimming and diving programs entered a new era in 1985, as they moved to the $4.5-million natatorium located in the Joyce Center.

Donated by brothers Thomas and Robert Rolfs of West Bend, Wis., the Rolfs Aquatic Center provides Notre Dame with a modern, innovative facility on par with any other in the country. Ellerbe Architects and Engineers of Bloomington, Minn., the architects used in the planning of the Joyce Center, also were commissioned to design the 45,000-square-foot facility which houses a 50-meter Olympic pool (25 yards in width), spectator seating for 400 and support facilities.

The facility features a cutting edge video and replay board, and two movable bulkheads to allow sections of the pool to be blocked off, allowing swimming competition and warm-up swimming to occur simultaneously. The design also allows recreational swimming, water polo, instructional swimming and other aquatic activities. Diving is accommodated with two one-meter boards and two three-meter boards.

Support functions housed in the center of the facility just below the spectator seating include men's and women's locker rooms, men's and women's varsity locker rooms and men's and women's staff locker rooms. Offices for the Notre Dame swimming staff, aquatics directors and lifeguards are deckside and glass-fronted with a view of the pool.

Several deckside instructional areas are located around the pool and feature infrared heat lamps, designed to keep wet swimmers warm between events. The pool features a stainless steel racing gutter, which is designed to absorb the bow waves of a swimmer, allowing for faster swimming times.

Another instructional feature is the presence of two underwater windows, which allow critiquing of a diver's or swimmer's underwater technique. The unique structural system consists of three trusses, which span 120 feet with the roof suspended below the trusses. In addition, the white exterior trusses provide an interesting and athletic character to the building. The lighting system is designed to be adjusted from maximum brightness for television to nearly dark for dramatic synchronized swimming presentations. The center was officially dedicated on November 13, 1985.

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