The George F. Haines International Swim Center in Santa Clara. (jdlasica / Flickr Commons)
The George F. Haines International Swim Center in Santa Clara. (jdlasica / Flickr Commons)

The Bay City News is reporting that the International Swimming Hall of Fame wants to relocate from Florida to Santa Clara. Santa Clara city officials are discussing the issue at a study session tonight.

BCN’s story says, “The hall of fame has chosen Santa Clara as the best place to relocate because of the city’s storied history in American swimming, producing about half the members of the U.S. Olympic swim teams in the 1950s and 1960s, said the hall’s chief executive Bruce Wigo.”

The hall of fame’s 50-year lease with Fort Lauderdale, Fla. ends in February 2015. Wigo says the facility is working with Santa Clara on a privately funded, modern swim complex and museum.

The plan is to relocate the hall of fame to Santa Clara’s George F. Haines International Swim Center, now the home of the Santa Clara Aquamaids. (Wigo says more than half of America’s Olympic synchronized swimmers have come the Aquamaids since the 1980s.) The center has many notable alumni, including Donna de Varona, Pablo Morales and Mark Spitz.

From the BCN story:

“The city of Santa Clara has more Olympic medal winners than any other city, and more than most countries,” Wigo said. “Santa Clara was seen throughout the world as the home of the greatest swimmers in the world. There is some connection for it to be there.”

… The city staff has estimated the swim facility and museum would cost from $40 million to $46 million, adding one large swimming pool, a community water play area and dry land fitness area to the Haines center, according to the city’s PowerPoint slides for tonight’s presentation.

A group called the Silicon Valley Aquatics Initiative is seeking to raise funds for the project and then gift it to the city, which would be in charge of maintaining it…

The hall of fame’s board had been talking with Santa Clara about moving there for about seven or eight years and believes it has outgrown the Florida complex, built in 1965, Wigo said.

In Santa Clara, Wigo said his group would like to create new revenue streams, build a new contemporary museum with interactive exhibits about swimming history and install new pools for adults, children and the elderly in addition to facilities for competitive swimmers.

The organization hopes that the new complex in Santa Clara would renew interest in the community concept of swimming, where people use the water for socializing and not just for working out, Wigo said.

“Our vision is to have several different pools,” he said. “There would be something for everyone in the community…for generations of non-swimmers.”

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