The Ramblers started the season Monday morning, and Loyola girls swimming head coach Mike Hengelmann joked he couldn’t remember the last time one of his teams was excited to practice.
A big reason for that energy is Loyola’s brand-new, state-of-the-art natatorium. The John D. Norcoss (Class of 1954) Aquatic Center officially opened Monday.
“Usually, everyone is tired and groggy coming back from vacation,” said Hengelmann, a 2000 Loyola graduate and former swimmer. “But everyone was super thrilled to be in the pool. We have exceptional athletes, and they deserve to have a facility like this to call home.”
As the primary component of Phase 1 of Loyola’s Second Century Campaign, construction started on the aquatics center following the 2017-2018 school year. The boys and girls swimming and diving teams and boys and girls water polo teams were without a home pool for the 2018-2019 school year.
“The mood was very good,” Hengelmann said. “It’s been awhile since I’ve seen a team this excited.”
Some of the features of the bright and spacious two-story natatorium include eight lanes, two one-meter springboards, wide deck space, a 294-seat spectator gallery and a Colorado Time System scoreboard.
Led by senior captains Molly Ball, Chloe Brown, Stephanie Udzielak and Sophia Visconti, the Ramblers have more than 80 girls in the program according to Hengelmann.
“It’s as big of a team as we’ve had in years,” he said. “Everybody is enthused.”
Loyola’s first home meet is Sept. 11 against St. Ignatius.