Vol. 15, No. 28, January 6, 2003

Patterson Makes a Splash

Bill Patterson, former member of the UW swim team from Portland, OR, and a commercial architect, presented an ambitious plan to build a “world-class swimming pool on the UW campus.” Bill and his introducer Peter Powell were on the same swim team in Southern California. At this point, Dan Lewis stood up to show off his Southern Cal tie.

Peter Powell introduces speaker Bill Patterson.

“My family has always been into swimming. My two daughters are nationally ranked in backstroke and breaststroke. For myself, I was seventh in the world in backstroke back in 1970 on the UW team that was rated 4th in NCAA.”

Patterson explained that “Husky swimming has always been a passion of mine.” He proceeded to lay out a plan that would give the Huskies something they do not have today – a 50-meter pool.

Bill told his audience that swimming is the #1 participant sport for ages 6 and up, and 93.5 million Americans participate in swimming programs each year. For 80 years running, the USA was the #1 swim team in the world. The sport spends $90 million annually to support programs around the nation. “By the time an athlete has completed his/her career, they will have swum 35 million yards, a distance 7 times the mileage from Seattle to New York! It’s a year-round sport that builds character.”

The University of Washington has had its share of success in swimming competition over the last 70 years. There have been Olympic medalists and NCAA individual champions. “Coach Mickey Wender brings dynamic energy and innovative training techniques since taking over the coaching helm of Husky swimming four years ago. He personally has competed in three Ironman triathlons and has climbed Mt. Rainier and Mt. Hood. There is solid commitment of dynamic leadership from Coach Wender … he molds his team both in and out of the pool to become community leaders.”

As an indication of the success of Wender’s program, this past season, the swim team set 23 new school records and was 30-4 in dual meets in 2002. “The big hitch to all of this is that the Husky swimming facility does not offer a diving program. The team gives up 32 points each time they compete in dual meets because they cannot offer a diving program. The Huskies are the only team of the top 25 swimming programs not able to offer diving.”

Patterson unveiled the plan which would renovate the current Husky pool and expand its capacity to accommodate a 50-meter pool. “The private Husky Pool Foundation is committed to raise $12.5 million by 2005. A 14-month construction schedule would move swimming to two other smaller pools on campus.” Patterson serves as Executive Director of the Foundation.

In his closing comments, Patterson said that the Wender-coached swimming program concentrates on recruiting swimmers from the northwest. “His team was voted #1 in community involvement of all the UW major sports programs. They have achieved academic excellence, with a team 3.0 GPA. Husky swimming really develops leaders.”

In addition, he said that an improved swimming facility is the Seattle area’s #1 aquatic need. “A modern aquatic competition pool will help build programs in this area. With the closing of county pools because of lack of resources, kids get left out. This results in a shortage of pool time. Our challenge is to make aquatics available to every child in Seattle.”

In the Q & A period, Patterson supported the need for scholarships for both men and women swimmers. He said the Foundation was “essentially on its own for raising funds. Swimming is not on the school’s priority list at this time, so we in the private sector must step up to modernize the facility.” He responded to a question regarding the Federal Way Pool, built for the Goodwill Games. “This is a fine facility and is used primarily for meets. For training purposes, a 50-meter pool needs to be on campus.”

During his talk, Patterson alluded to “a fast pool.” Asked about that, he said a fast pool offers limited resistance. “It’s a matter of pool design and construction. The physics of the waves created by swimmers bounce back into the lanes. A deeper pool is generally faster. For instance, a 7-foot pool is faster than a 3-foot pool.”

He left his audience with the motto about the sport of swimming. “A team above all, above all, a team.” Patterson also invited his audience to learn more about support for this program making available information at the end of the meeting. Thanks to Peter Powell for his introduction.

President Kim Shrader presented Mr. Patterson with a certificate, noting that 240 doses of polio vaccine had been given in his name to help Rotary eradicate the disease by 2005.

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