Oct. 29, 2005
Tennessee's swimming and diving program took a giant step toward a new era with the Saturday afternoon groundbreaking of the Allan Jones Intercollegiate Aquatic Center. Dignitaries including President Dr. John D. Petersen and UT trustees were on hand for ceremonies honoring the next phase in the Vols' celebrated aquatic sports tradition.
"I think there have been significant moments in the history of Tennessee swimming and diving," said John Trembley, UT men's head coach. "The first was, undoubtedly, building the Student Aquatic Center. Secondly, hiring Ray Bussard. Third, and perhaps most importantly for the future is building the Allan Jones Intercollegiate Aquatic Center.
"What a tremendous gift from Allan and his family. It transcends dollars and cents; it's a gift to the community."
The $24.3 million aquatic center will serve as new home of the swimming and diving teams when completed in late 2007, replacing the Student Aquatic Center and Ray Bussard Intercollegiate Pool that opened in 1967.
The new building is being named in honor of Cleveland, Tenn., businessman Allan Jones, who along with his wife Janie provided a $4 million gift toward construction of the state-of-the-art facility.
"I think it's a new direction for the program to create a facility that, when it's built, probably will be the nicest in the country," Jones said. "A lot of student-athletes will be able to enjoy this facility over the next 40 years."
Jones added he has just the way to christen the facility upon completion.
"You know how the team always takes water with them on the road and dumps it into the pool for good luck?" Jones asked. "There's a creek that flows on my property, Mouse Creek; I'm going to take some water and bring it up here and pour it in this pool for good luck. That's my old swimming hole."
UT Athletics Director Mike Hamilton said Saturday was just the first of several changes on the Big Orange landscape.
"This is our next big step in a lot of facilities that are going to take shape over the next several months on our campus," Hamilton said. "This facility, the (Neyland) stadium renovation, along with soccer and softball immediately following over the winter months.
"We'll be second to none in swimming and diving programs with the new Allan Jones Intercollegiate Aquatic Center. We're really looking forward to having it online here in couple of years and being able to host national-type events on a regular basis."
The facility is expected to vie for Southeastern Conference and NCAA championships, as well as city, state, national and international meets.
Highlighted by an eight-lane, 50-meter-by-25-yard competition pool with a depth of eight feet from end to end, it will be one of the fastest collegiate pools in the country. A separate competition diving well features five platforms varying in height from 1/2-meter to 10 meters, and two one-meter and two three-meter springboards on the main competition end of the well. In addition, five three-meter and five one-meter auxiliary springboards will surround the diving pool.
More than 50 former swimmers, divers and their families made significant contributions in excess of $450,000 to make the AJIAC a reality along with more than 800 other donors to STEP UP-The Campaign for UT Athletic Facilities.
"It has been fantastic to have all the swimming community back and supportive, along with the trustees -- what an awesome day," Trembley said.
Added Hamilton, "I really appreciate the vision that Allan Jones and his family have shown in stepping forward and saying this is important. Success in an athletics program is contingent on a number of things -- great student-athletes, great fans, great university, certainly great coaches and one of the biggest components is great facilities to allow us to recruit the nation's finest student-athletes."
Completion date is targeted for December 2007.
Allan Jones with family members.
Men's Athletics Director Mike Hamilton (left) and Allan Jones
Allan Jones and Dr. John Petersen
Allan Jones and Women's Athletics Director Joan Cronan