Mike Rose Natatorium

A One-of-a-kind Natatorium in the Mid-South

Through a partnership of the University of Memphis, Memphis Tiger Swimming, Splash Mid-South, YMCA of Memphis and the Mid-South and the Rose Foundation, a one-of-a-kind natatorium, named for Memphis businessman and philanthropist Mike Rose, will be developed that draws upon a robust aquatics program in the heart of Memphis to promote water safety and enrich community health among diverse populations. Renovation of the existing swimming facility on the University of Memphis campus, the first in 40 years, will resolve the existing capacity and structural issues to greatly benefit the Memphis community for generations to come.

Your investment in the Mike Rose Natatorium will ensure that everyone in the Mid-South has access to affordable swim instruction. To get started with a gift that will be remembered forever, contact Joanna Curtis in the development office at 901.678.5274 or jecurtis@memphis.edu.

Frequently Asked Questions


Why does the University need a new natatorium and how will the renovations impact the Memphis community?

There is a community-wide need for drowning prevention programming, and to tackle the disparity between children in Memphis who have low or no swimming ability and their peers.  Drowning is a leading cause of death among children ages 1-4. African-American children ages 5-19 drown in pools at a rate 5.5 times higher than that of white children. In Memphis, nearly 80% of African-American children have low or no swimming ability compared to 40% of white children.

Consistent with the UofM’s commitment to collaboration both within and beyond the University, and service that benefits our students and society, we have an unprecedented opportunity to address an inequity that too often leads to loss of life for vulnerable populations. Among the project's goals are: providing free or low-cost swim lessons to 300 at-risk children a year, led by Splash Mid-South; introducing the sport of swimming to more low-income and minority youth to improve the diversity of Memphis Tiger Swimming, the longest operating USA Swim community club in the city; and offering free CPR classes to UofM students so they can share their skills with the community.

In addition, the renovated facility will allow the City to host larger swim meets, generating revenue for the local economy from out-of-town visitors who attend swimming competitions.

What’s the status of the natatorium renovations?

Currently, the project is in the design development phase.

How much has been raised for renovations and how much is still needed?

The total cost of the facility renovation is $15 million. This includes $6 million for general building improvements and $9 million for the natatorium area and pool. The UofM has invested $7 million in this project for a new roof, HVAC and other necessary improvements through state allocated capital improvement funds. In addition, $6 million has been committed toward a total goal of $8M from private and local government sources for the natatorium area and pool.

What is the scope of the renovations?

Planned renovations include:

  • Installation of a new, longer pool consisting of one body of water divided by a thermal bulkhead to have two different water temperatures. The variable temperatures will allow us to accommodate both swim lessons/learn-to-swim programming and competitive training and meet hosting in the same body of water.
  • New pool pumps, multimedia filtration, UV pool system sanitation, and HVAC for a healthier swimming environment (both water quality and air quality).
  • Improved lighting and new sound panels, video boards, and audio system.
  • Increased seating to make the facility eligible for training and for regional swimming competitions.

Will the University of Memphis still manage the natatorium once revisions are complete?

Although the Rose Natatorium will serve the greater community, it will still be a facility of the University of Memphis. We will continue to operate and maintain it.

Will alumni and the community still have access to the natatorium?

Yes. This project is intended to the community, including our alumni, more access to the natatorium through additional programming and enhancements.

Will the pool be open during construction?

The pool will be open and accessible until the renovations begin. It will be closed during construction, which is expected to take 10-12 months.

What is the timeline of the project?

The natatorium is one of several exciting capital projects that are underway or in the planning stages as we reimagine the south side of the main campus, including the Pedestrian Cable Bridge over the railroad tracks, the Southern Avenue parking garage and plaza, the realignment of the intersection of Patterson/Southern, and the Health and Wellness Center. The outdoor pool will permanently close this fall to accommodate expanded outdoor recreational activities for students on campus. Renovations on the natatorium will begin in early 2020.

Why is the University still fundraising for the natatorium? How can I contribute to this project? Are there special naming opportunities still available?

Gifts to the natatorium project will enhance the amenities we can provide to create an enjoyable user experience for all. There are a limited number of naming opportunities still available but hurry, they won’t last long. To see a list of naming opportunities or to make a contribution to the Mike Rose Natatorium, visit this link


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