Rolfs Aquatic Center

Irish Celebrate Rolfs Aquatic Center Anniversary With Double-Dual Meet

Oct. 28, 2009

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The Notre Dame men’s swimming and diving team will celebrate the 25th anniversary of varsity competition in the Rolfs Aquatic Center with a double-dual meet Saturday against Cleveland State and Miami (Ohio). The action will begin at 2:00 p.m. (ET) with live stats available at

“The meet this weekend is a very special one for the program as we are going to recognize and celebrate the Rolfs Aquatic Center’s 25th birthday,” Irish head coach Tim Welsh said. “We’re choosing this weekend because the opening meet in this pool was against Cleveland State. It’s a great way to pay tribute to the Rolfs family, longtime Notre Dame head coach Dennis Stark and all the former student-athletes that have gone through our storied program. It’s our last dual meet at home for the fall semester, and we want to build momentum into the remainder of the schedule.

“Cleveland State was here earlier this season for the Dennis Stark Relays. They’re bringing more swimmers this time and should be competitive up and down the board. Miami is one of the top Mid-American Conference programs each year and a very well-coached team.”

Notre Dame (1-0) finished first in 11 events last Friday against Oakland to hand the visiting Grizzlies a 179-119 defeat in non-conference action. Senior John Lytle picked up two individual wins while adding assists in a pair of first-place finishing relays.

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 1-meter boards and two 3-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 that is designed to absorb the bow waves of a swimmer, allowing faster swimming times.

Another instructional feature is the presence of two underwater windows, which allow critiquing of a diver’s or swimmer’s 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 can be adjusted from maximum brightness for television to nearly dark for dramatic synchronized swimming presentations. The center was officially dedicated on November 13, 1985.