IU Natatorium grand re-opening

IU Natatorium
Indianapolis, Indiana

Tuesday, June 07, 2016


Let me start by thanking all of you for joining us for the Grand Re-Opening of the IU Natatorium, one of the most iconic amateur athletic venues in the United States, and one that has made enormous contributions to the well-deserved reputation enjoyed by the city of Indianapolis as a major national center for amateur sports.

A showcase for athletic excellence

As IU faculty members Joel Stager, director of IU’s Counsilman Center for the Science of Swimming, and David Tanner, who swam for the legendary coach Doc Counsilman and served as his assistant coach for two years, write: “The history of organized competitive swimming over the past 100 years is essentially a description of the athletes, their coaches, and their collective accomplishments.”1

For more than three decades, the IU Natatorium has been a major part of that history. The venue has hosted many of the leading swimmers, divers, and coaches from around the country and around the world, and has been home to some of the greatest moments in swimming and diving history. It has also served the community through its year-round programs that include aquatic fitness classes, lap swimming, and swimming instruction.

Re-defining world-class

But after more than 30 years, the IU Natatorium was sorely in need of extensive renovation caused by the challenging environment of a swimming and diving complex. Both inside and out, the Natatorium had begun to seriously deteriorate. The Master Plan for the IUPUI campus, approved by the Indiana University Board of Trustees in 2009, identified the Natatorium as one of a number of campus buildings in need of substantial renovation.

Another major priority noted in the Master Plan was the need for major traffic changes along New York, Michigan, and West Streets to provide a more functional, safer, and welcoming pedestrian environment befitting an urban campus, and that would connect the IUPUI campus even more closely to the greater Indianapolis community.

Today we celebrate not only the repair and renovation of this magnificent Natatorium, but also the completion of extensive reconfigurations of the first of these major thoroughfares—improvements that will improve pedestrian safety, provide an important gateway to downtown, and make the area even more attractive to companies who want to locate near one of the nation’s leading urban university campuses.

Special thanks: a history of collaboration and partnership

The superb renovation and repair of the IU Natatorium has, of course, been made possible through collaboration with a number of Indiana University’s longstanding partners.

On behalf of the entire Indiana University community, let me first extend our enormous gratitude to our friends at the Lilly Endowment, through Vice President Ace Yakey, and Program Director Chuck Preston—who are here today. In 1980, generous support from the Lilly Endowment and the Krannert Charitable Trust allowed IU to build the Natatorium that has served the swimming and diving world and the Indianapolis community so well for more than 30 years. The Lilly Endowment’s generous support for the Natatorium’s repair and renovation will allow this iconic venue to maintain its standing as the nation’s premier aquatics venue for many years to come.

And I also want to once again extend our enormous gratitude to the City of Indianapolis—particularly to Mayor Hogsett, and his predecessor, Mayor Greg Ballard—both of whom have been steadfast partners in this endeavor. The project we celebrate today is but the latest chapter in the long history of collaboration and partnership that the IUPUI campus has shared with the great city of Indianapolis.

We also recognize and thank our partners at the Indianapolis Capital Improvement Board, who have generously agreed to provide funding for future renovation needs at the Natatorium to ensure its long-term sustainability for our community.

And finally, I also want to extend our thanks to our partners at the Indiana Sports Corporation, who have for nearly 40 years, hosted world-class sporting events that have helped to enhance the vibrancy of this city and our state.


As we prepare to celebrate the Bicentennial of Indiana University in 2020 and the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the IUPUI campus in 2019, we reaffirm the steadfast commitment of the university and the campus to the city of Indianapolis and the state of Indiana, as well as to continued national and global engagement to improve the quality of life in communities worldwide.

With today’s grand re-opening of the IU Natatorium, we celebrate and honor the spirit of perseverance that so many athletes have demonstrated here—as well as the tenacious pursuit of knowledge by athletes and their coaches—knowledge that has been applied to achieve improved athletic performance.

These are the foundations upon which Indiana University’s proud academic and athletic traditions have been built. And it is this spirit that is at the very heart of our pursuit of excellence at Indiana University.

We look forward to many more years of fruitful partnership and to witnessing the collective accomplishments of future generations of athletes and coaches here in the magnificent IU Natatorium.

Thank you very much.

Source notes

  1. Joel Stager and David Tanner (eds.), Handbook of Sports Medicine and Science: Swimming: Olympic Handbook of Sports Medicine, (Wiley-Blackwell, 2008), ix.