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Swim Hall of Fame Hopes to Call Santa Clara Home
By Carolyn Schuk


Swim Hall of Fame Hopes to Call Santa Clara Home

Santa Clara Swim Club has produced more Olympic athletes, won more
Olympic medals, and placed more champions in the International Swim Hall
of Fame (ISHOF)
than any other club in the world. So when the Hall of
Fame needed a new home for the 21st century, where better to look than
Santa Clara?

Two weeks ago, the newly-formed Santa Clara Blue and Gold Ribbon
Commission signed a memorandum of understanding with the ISHOF to raise
$10 million to relocate the Hall of Fame
to Santa Clara, and provide a
$2 million endowment for future support. Unofficial discussions have
been going on since last year and a location adjacent to the Hilton
hotel is currently under consideration.

The ISHOF was established in Fort Lauderdale, FL in 1928. By 1970,
it was a major attraction for the city. But by 2000, support declined
and the facility fell into disrepair. When a rebuilding project fell
through, ISHOF’s leaders decided to move.

With its fabled history in aquatic sports, Santa Clara was a natural
destination. The Santa Clara Swim Club was founded and put on the
Olympic map by legendary coach George Haines. The Santa Clara Aquamaids
and Santa Clara Dive Club followed suit, setting high standards in
synchronized swimming and diving. The opening of the George Haines
International Swim Center in 1967 made Santa Clara the capital of the
swimming world.

Supporters say that the goal for a new Swim Hall of Fame is to be
the definitive museum of swimming and aquatic sports – and part of that
means an address in a city that has an important connection to aquatic
sports history.

As part of that mission, the commission says that it hopes that its
efforts will also be a catalyst for rebuilding the Haines International
Swim Center – not only to bring back professional competitions, but to
expand aquatic activities for local residents as well.

The commission marries star power with solid community roots. Its
co-chairs are venture capitalist and UC Trustee (and SCU graduate)
Patrick Yam, and 49ers president and former Facebook CFO Gideon Yu.

The committee’s membership also includes builder and philanthropist
Steve Schott; former Earthquakes EVP David Alioto; former Santa Clara
Parks and Recreation Director Larry Wolfe; Santa Clara Parks &
Recreation Commissioner – and a Santa Clara competitive swimmer –
Cynthia Owens; and former City Council Member Kevin Moore.

Santa Clara Hilton owner Lawrence Lui has also made a substantial
financial commitment to the project. “He has been very supportive of our
efforts,” says Yam. “I can’t say enough about his generosity.”

The commission wants to celebrate Santa Clara’s swimming legacy says
Yam. “We want to do so in a way that appeals to everyone in the
community, and contributes to the lives of everyone from children to
seniors. This project has a huge potential for synergy across the
community.”