On August 9, 2021, Keiser University hosted Florida Lt. Governor Jeanette Nuñez and state and local officials to announce fundraising efforts to build an aquatic center and Olympic pool on the university’s 100-acre Flagship Campus located on Military Trail in West Palm Beach, Fla. Once complete the aquatic center will serve as a community resource to swimmers of all ages and abilities and the future home to the Seahawks’ NAIA Championship swimming teams.
“We are delighted to announce plans for this athletic venue to serve our students, community members, and local and national competitors,” said Arthur Keiser, Ph.D., Chancellor of Keiser University. “We couldn’t be prouder of our student-athletes for both their academic success and their pursuit of athletic excellence. The facility will impact countless community friends and neighbors as they learn the life-saving skill of swimming.”
With the Palm Beach community in mind, Keiser’s aquatic center will help bring world-class events to the region and provide an additional facility to offer swimming lessons to children and families. The Palm Beaches are home to some of the nation’s top sporting facilities and the Olympic pool at Keiser University will help bring premier swimming events to the County while serving as a communal gathering place for children and families to learn the important and lifesaving skill of swimming.
“Service to Florida and our community is at the heart of who we are at Keiser University and the opportunity to use this facility to provide swimming lessons to the community and host future Olympians for swimming competitions is important to us,” said Belinda Keiser, Vice Chancellor at Keiser University. “As leaders in education and talent development for nearly 50 years, we fully embrace the ongoing mission to better the lives of the community and our students and are pleased to partner with so many in the West Palm Beach community and throughout Florida in this mission.”
Keiser University officials also used the event as an opportunity to praise the recent passage of Every Child a Swimmer legislation which was signed into law by Governor Ron DeSantis in June. The new legislation will serve as a reminder that learning to swim at a young age can instill positive health habits in children while helping save lives.
In 2019, among children up to nine years of age, Florida had the highest unintentional drowning death rate with 3.28 per 100,000 individuals. Florida also ranked fifth in the U.S. for unintentional drowning for those 17 years and younger.
The bill, which will be enacted during the 2021-22 academic school year, encourages parents to register their school-aged children for swim lessons by having public school systems in Florida distribute information on the important role water safety education plays in recreational swimming. The bill does not mandate or require swim lessons, but rather provides materials to parents about local options for age-appropriate water safety courses and swimming lessons, including classes offered for free or at reduced prices.
The new aquatic center at Keiser University will be one of only four Olympic-sized pools in Palm Beach County and will support the County’s mission of bringing premier events to the Palm Beaches to enhance economic impact and stimulate bed tax revenues in the region. The Palm Beach County Sports Commission has signaled support of the project and members of the Commission were on hand to discuss the importance of developing such a venue in West Palm Beach.
“Keiser University is truly one of the great tourism partners making economic development an engine for this county; this institution has created a marriage between Palm Beach County and the NAIA,” said George Linley, Executive Director of the Palm Beach Sports Commission. “With this venue, there’s no doubt that we can add Olympic events in the Palm Beaches. From an economic development standpoint, from a community asset standpoint, such an aquatic facility would go a long way in continuing our great reputation as a one of Florida’s premier sports destinations.”
Keiser University hasn’t set a timeline for the campaign but hopes to raise $8 million for construction of their aquatic center. Fundraising for the Aquatic Center and Olympic Pool is well underway with a lead gift of $500,000 from Bill Kent, Chair of the International Swimming Hall of Fame, and member of the Keiser University Board of Trustees, who was instrumental in passing Every Child a Swimmer.
Keiser will host a fundraising campaign kickoff event on April 1, 2022, featuring Olympic Gold Medalists Dara Torres. For more information about the event and the fundraising campaign, visit: https://aquaticcenter.keiseruniversity.edu/.
Keiser University is a private, independent, non-profit university serving nearly 20,000 students at 21 Florida campuses, online, and two international sites. Co-founded in 1977 by Chancellor Arthur Keiser, Ph.D., and Evelyn Keiser, Keiser University currently offers more than 100 degrees from associates to the doctoral level. Keiser University is a member of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities and was ranked No. 11 in the U.S. in Social Mobility by U.S. News and World Reports in 2021. Keiser University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges as a level VI institution. For more information, visit www.keiseruniversity.edu.