Generations of Trojan swimmers and divers united to celebrate the opening of the Uytengsu Aquatics Center on Feb. 21.
At the heart of Fred Uytengsu’s landmark $8 million gift to create the facility was the wish to honor legendary USC swim coach Peter Daland. He and the nearly 1,000 guests at the ceremony did just that during ceremonies honoring USC aquatics’ rich past.
“Peter is remembered for his nine [NCAA] championships and his All-Americans, but he leaves a legacy much greater: his life lessons,” Uytengsu said.
Uytengsu recounted memories from his freshman year, when Daland offered the young swimmer a chance to join the top-ranked swim team as a walk-on. Uytengsu went on to become the men’s swimming team captain in 1983. Now, 30 years later, he still credits the coach for preparing him to be a leader.
“Fred wanted to recognize a coach that gave him a chance,” USC Athletic Director Pat Haden said. “That’s the kind of relationship that makes USC different and special.” At Uytengsu’s request, the center’s swimming pool was named after Daland.
Haden called the opening celebration symbolic of the Trojan Family.
“Fred is a philanthropist who recognizes the power of the gift and the multiplier effect,” Haden said, crediting him for inspiring others to “jump into the pool” with him to create one of the nation’s finest swimming facilities.
The center includes new locker rooms, a diving well, several lounge areas, a training center, two-tier seating areas and the competition pool.
“I want to instill a source of pride for swimmers, divers and water polo athletes to make it a special experience during those long hours,” Uytengsu said about the new center.
The Uytengsu family in attendance included wife Kerri and her mother, along with the couple’s three children. They celebrated with a crowd filled with Trojan swimmers, divers and coaches that included Olympians, NCAA champions and All-Americans such as Sammy Lee, namesake of the facility’s new diving tower.