Georgia Tech’s renovation of its football locker room encountered a little bit of school history.
In tearing up the locker-room space and evidently digging into the ground beneath, contractors were surprised to find the remnants of an old swimming pool, athletic director Todd Stansbury said Thursday at a quarterly meeting of the Georgia Tech Athletic Association.
“They forgot, or they didn’t ask me about the pool that was underneath the football locker room,” said Stansbury, a member of Tech’s class of 1984.
The 25-yard natatorium was a part of Heisman Gymnasium, which was at the north end of what was then called Grant Field, now Bobby Dodd Stadium. Heisman Gym was demolished in 1995, making way for the eventual construction of the north stands.
The locker room and the football offices are housed underneath the stands. Tech began a $4.5 million renovation of the locker room in January, long a priority for coach Paul Johnson.
“They weren’t ready for (the pool) because it didn’t show up on any renderings, maps,” Stansbury said. “The old pool was a surprise they weren’t ready for.”
Stansbury said that the discovery of the pool has required some shoring work to support the construction of the ground-floor locker-room space. A Tech spokesman said that it will not delay the project, scheduled to be completed by the time the Yellow Jackets begin preseason practice in August.
Stansbury and thousands of other Tech grads have memories of the pool, which was home to the institute’s infamous Drownproofing class. According to the school’s alumni association, the class was developed in 1938 by Tech swimming coach Freddy Lanoue at the request of the U.S. Navy. When Stansbury brought up the matter at the meeting, other Tech grads in the meeting responded with knowing remarks.
To pass, students had to be able to stay afloat for a prolonged period of time with their hand and feet bound, among other skills.
Between 1940 and 1986, the class was a requirement for graduation, and it also won acclaim from the U.S. military and was adopted by the Navy SEALs.