nce upon a time, the Ohio State University's Peppe Aquatic Center was state-of-the-art. Dedicated in 1931 and later named for Mike Peppe, who coached Ohio State's varsity swim team for 33 years and captured 33 championships, OSU's natatorium was considered by many to be one of the finest swimming facilities featured on a college campus in the United States. But after so many years of service, the old facility was outdated and considered too small to host other teams for competition. So, in what Ohio State Associate Director of Athletics Miechelle Willis called "the beginning of a new era for Ohio State Aquatics," the new Bill and Mae McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion was dedicated in September 2005. Thanks to the latest aquatic technology, this new aquatic facility is expected to be fast enough for swimmers to break records.
It's all part of the enormous Recreation and Physical Activity Center (RPAC) project, a $150-million complex designed to bring the best recreation, fitness and even some athletic opportunities to students, faculty and community members. The 600,000-square-foot facility features two new natatoriums, more than 25,000 square feet of fitness space, four gyms, squash and racquetball courts, a four-lane jogging/walking track, multipurpose rooms and much more.
The McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion holds more than 1.5 million gallons of water, and is home to the new Mike Peppe Natatorium, which is highlighted by a 50-meter, world-class competition pool with moveable bulkheads. In addition, the pavilion houses the Ron O'Brien Diving Well, named for the former OSU diving coach who won the 1-meter at the 1959 National Championships and coached divers in seven Olympics. The well features a 10-meter platform as well as 3- and 1-meter springboards. A dive-pool spa allows divers to loosen up before and after they take the plunge.
The pavilion also includes spectator seating for more than 1,500, a concession stand, coaches' offices, men's and women's locker rooms, training room, full data digital scoreboard, event management room, observation balcony, conference rooms, wall of fame and record board.
In addition to its competitive pools, the RPAC features a natatorium with a 25-yard recreation lap pool, a 25-yard class instructional pool with a moveable floor and a 2,848-square-foot leisure pool that features shallow entry for children and those with special needs. The leisure pool entertains kids and adults alike with an aquatic playground, spiraling vortex and underwater benches and bubble couches that provide seating in the pool. There is also a 250-square-foot leisure whirlpool spa.
OSU is happy to be able to host events in its new state-of-the-art aquatics facility. In fact, Willis said the McCorkle Pavilion is hoped to be a "marquee aquatics facility for years to come." She added, "It is our dream that the new facility will bring to Ohio State national championship events at all levels in swimming and diving, and synchronized swimming."
The newly built building hosted the 2006 Big Ten Women's Swimming and Diving Championships, the 2006 NCAA Regional Diving Championships and the 2007 Big Ten Men's Swimming and Diving Championships. The facility will also be the site of the 2008 Women's Swimming and Diving Championships.
Head Swimming Coach Bill Wadley said in a press release announcing the facility that he feels "thrilled and blessed" to be able to work in the facility. "We hope our guys realize when we go to other pools now, they are not going to all be like our pool. When we used to go away to pools they were all better than ours. It'll be our goal to provide a home-meet atmosphere—a powerful, positive atmosphere—in the new venue that will be a fun and fast place to compete."