Swimmers Take Your Mark


Southeast Opens New Student Aquatic Center

Photo of the Aquatic Center

A ribbon cutting ceremony today marked the official opening of the new Student Aquatic Center at Southeast Missouri State University.


Dec. 14, 2007 – A ribbon cutting ceremony today marked the official opening of the new Student Aquatic Center at Southeast Missouri State University.

The new $8.5 million, 31,922-square-foot facility is built on the northwest corner of the Student Recreation Center-North along New Madrid Street on the north end of campus. The Center features a seven-foot deep, 2,915-square-foot leisure pool, a six-lane, 25-yard, 3,868-square-foot lap pool for competitive swimming, a 12-person hot tub, state-of-the-art men’s and women’s locker rooms, three family changing rooms, an aquatic “multi-purpose” room, offices for lifeguards and professional staff, and chemical and control systems that boast 21st century aquatic technology.

The new Center will open for swimming on Thursday, Dec. 20, according to TroyVaughn said, director of Recreation Services.

The Center also boasts two aquatic amenities that no other campus recreation aquatic center has to offer, Vaughn said. The first is a 40-foot wide, 14-foot high bouldering wall that spans the west side of the facility’s leisure pool. Once patrons climb the full length on the wall, they fall into a seven-foot deep leisure pool. Patrons also will be challenged to climb the wall with four separate waterfalls coming down on the rock as they climb. The wall, constructed by the Cost of Wisconsin Company, was formed upon dozens of concrete fabricated panels mounted on a steel cage. The process took more than four weeks to complete, and the results are impressive, he said.

“You would think that we went out and chipped tons of rock from a local quarry or cliff and hauled it into the facility. It’s amazing how much it looks and feels like real rock,” Vaughn said, adding the surface is painted to match the color of local southeast Missouri and southern Illinois bluffs and cliffs.

“The challenge will be great, but we wanted to simulate a real-life climbing experience as much as we could,” Vaughn said. “I think we are very close to that.”

The facility’s second one-of-a-kind feature is an indoor zip line, which also spans the leisure pool. Having the capacity of sending a patron along a wire for about 20 to 25 yards, the zip line is designed to give a small “thrill” to those patrons who will try it, Vaughn said. Patrons will, essentially, hold onto a bar and push themselves over water. Patrons will release and fall into the water upon completion of the ride.

“What a great facility we think this will be,” Vaughn said. “It’s very unique and has features unlike any other facility.” 

Artificial palm trees and vegetation are installed in several rock planters throughout the facility, giving the Student Aquatic Center a tropical feel.

Ground was broken on the project in fall 2006. Hastings & Chivetta, a St. Louis company with extensive experience in the design of aquatic centers and the same company that designed the original Student Recreation Center, were architects for the project. Paric Corp. of St. Louis served as construction managers for the project. During summer 2005, Hastings & Chivetta conducted workshops with students and constituency groups to gather their input on a proposed design for the facility. Those ideas were incorporated into the facility that opened today, Vaughn said.

“I think this is going to be exciting for the students and members of our facilities,” Vaughn said. “This is something totally different that many have not seen before in this area.”

Dr. Dennis Holt, vice president for administration and enrollment management, says the addition of the new Aquatic Center to the Southeast campus has been and will continue to be beneficial in the recruitment of students and has resonated well with students and their parents. He says the Student Aquatic Center not only will increase recreational options for students, but also will increase the marketability of Southeast for prospective students.

“When we bring students and their parents to campus, they see a community on the move,” he said.

The facility is being financed through a dedicated student fee assessed to Southeast students. In April 2005, the University’s Board of Regents approved a $2 per credit hour increase per year in general fees for students beginning in fall 2005 through fiscal 2010, with the proceeds funding construction and operation of the Student Aquatic Center, additional student programming, intramural sports and enhanced student support for athletics.

University officials say the campus has needed an aquatic center since the Board of Regents approved a plan to balance the fiscal 2003 budgets which included the closing of Parker Pool in October 2002.

Use of the Aquatic Center is free to Southeast students. Vaughn says current Student Recreation Center members will be able to swim for free from Dec. 20 through Jan. 13. After that, an Aquatic Center membership will be required. The new facility offers memberships for faculty, staff, Southeast alumni and community members at very competitive prices. The Student Aquatic Center also will offer a one-time rate of $5 per day.

An all-inclusive membership includes full membership to use both of Southeast’s Student Recreation Centers and the Student Aquatic Center during open recreation hours. An Aquatics-Only Membership includes full membership to use only the Student Aquatic Center during open recreation hours.

Operational hours for the facility will vary depending on the time of year. Regular open recreation swimming hours will be: 5:30-7:30 a.m., 11 a.m.-1 p.m. and 5-10 p.m. Mondays-Fridays; noon-7 p.m. Saturdays; and 1-9 p.m. Sundays. Break hours will vary. Not all amenities will be open at all times.

Many new and improved programs also will be added to the Recreation Services line-up beginning with the spring 2008 semester, Vaughn said. Users will see new programming, including:

  • Swimming lesson programs for youth and adults 
  • Intramural water basketball 
  • Intramural water polo 
  • Intramural swimming meet 
  • New sport club opportunities 
  • Water aerobic and fitness classes 
  • Master Swimming opportunities 
  • Birthday parties for youth 
  • “School Lock-Ins” or “After Prom” celebrations in the facility 
  • Late Nite alternative programming for Southeast students 
  • “Dive-In” movies

For more information about the new Student Aquatic Center or to inquire about membership or rental possibilities, and hours, please contact Chad Sierman, assistant director – aquatics, at (573) 651-2105 or csierman@semo.edu. Hours and membership information will be listed on the Department of Recreation Services Web site at  www.semo.edu/recservices.