A big splash: SMU dedicates the Robson & Lindley Aquatics Center

SMU dedicated the Robson & Lindley Aquatics Center, the new home of SMU's international championship swimming and diving programs, on Friday, Nov. 3.

DALLAS (SMU) - SMU dedicated the Robson & Lindley Aquatics Center, the new home of SMU's international championship swimming and diving programs, on Friday, Nov. 3. The 42,000 square foot center, located on the University's east campus at 5550 SMU Blvd., makes a big splash in Division I swimming and diving with facilities, coaching and training technology designed to prepare men's and women's swimmers and divers for the highest level of competition.

"For more than 70 years, SMU swimming and diving has produced Olympians, All Americans and NCAA champions," said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. "The completion of the Robson & Lindley Aquatics Center affirms SMU's commitment to providing first-rate facilities to support our student-athletes."

Robson & Lindley Aquatics Center at SMU
Click here to make a gift to the Robson & Lindley Aquatics Center

About the Aquatics Center

The Aquatics Center natatorium, named for legendary Mustang swim coaches Coach A.R. "Red" Barr and Coach George Mac" McMillion '55, features an indoor Olympic-sized pool configured for eight 50-meter competition lanes or twenty-two 25-yard lanes. Its diving area boasts a 10-meter diving tower with four springboards. Just like cupolas on campus and the Mustang on Expressway Tower, the diving tower will be lit in red when Mustang swimming is victorious. The natatorium also features seating for 800 spectators on the mezzanine level. Three large high-definition video boards across from the seating area display swimming times, live video or graphics and swimming and diving scores.

"I will always be grateful to have had the opportunity to be involved with SMU swimming while attending SMU," said donor Bruce Robson. "My family and I are honored to be part of helping honor the legacy of Coach Barr and Coach Mac and the swimmers and divers who built this incredible program. This new aquatics center will do its part in helping the current and future coaches at SMU to attract the top swimming and diving talent to SMU for years to come.”

As a practice facility, the center features the SwimPro video system, with underwater and above-water cameras to analyze swimmers' performances. Video can be viewed on the pool deck or downloaded for review by coaches and student-athletes. The diving well also features cameras to capture 1-meter, 3-meter and platform diving.

Swimmers at the dedication of the Robson & Lindley Aquatics Center
Swimmers at the dedication of the Aquatics Center

"The video can be shown on mounted TVs on the deck so the coaches can review technique with the swimmers while practice is going on," said Steve Collins, head coach of Mustang women's swimming. "Video can also be viewed in the conference room for more detailed study with the swimmers or divers. The U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs is setting up a similar system."

The pool deck also includes men's and women's varsity and visitor locker rooms, a student lounge and classroom, and coaches' and administrative offices. Public locker rooms are also available for community events, such as competitions and swim lessons.

"Recruits will see SMU's commitment to swimming and diving the minute they walk in the door of the Robson & Lindley Aquatics Center," said Eddie Sinnott '76, head coach of Mustang men's swimming. "Combined with SMU's outstanding academic reputation and the great city of Dallas, SMU swimming and diving will offer a great opportunity to student-athletes for many years to come."

“The success of SMU swimming and diving is known internationally throughout the athletics community,” said Rick Hart, SMU director of athletics. “With the opening of the Robson & Lindley Aquatics Center, our student-athletes now have a world-class competition and practice facility commensurate with our championship tradition and aspirations for the future." 

Donor Support

The Robson & Lindley Aquatics Center was built with the help of former SMU swimmers, divers, coaches and friends of men's and women's swimming and diving dedicated to supporting the future of SMU's swimming and diving programs.

SMU's international championship swimming and diving teams have a new home.

Lead donors include Bruce A. Robson ’74 and Emily K. Robson, Joe Robson ’76 and Hannah Robson and Steven J. Lindley ’74 and Shelli Mims Lindley. They are joined by Sheila Peterson Grant and Joseph (Jody) M. Grant ’60, The J.E. and L.E. Mabee Foundation, Inc. and Robert A. Wilson ’67 and Susan Cooper Wilson ’67.

The final fundraising push for the Aquatics Center received a significant boost when the Grants contributed $1.5 million while also creating the Sheila and Jody Grant Challenge, which encouraged other donors to give the remaining $1.5 million to complete the center’s $22 million funding goal. The challenge was near its goal approaching the center's dedication.

"I am so grateful to our donors for their commitment to swimming and diving at the highest level," said Brad Cheves, SMU vice president for development and external affairs. "The commitment of the Robson and Lindley families and the other lead donors, the encouragement of Sheila and Jody Grant in their funding challenge and the many other donors who have supported this project at many levels, shows the impact that SMU swimming had on so many lives. Thanks to their generosity, future swimmers and divers will have the opportunity for memorable experiences as well."

Emily and Bruce Robson '74

Former SMU swimmer Bruce Robson earned a bachelor's degree in business from SMU in 1974, where he was a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity. Since 1993 he has served as managing partner of the Dallas private investment firm Robvest. He is former president and CEO of Robson Petroleum Company and president of the Nick and Alma Robson Foundation, created by his parents in 1992. The Robsons have been generous contributors to SMU Athletics and the Cox School of Business and served as members of SMU's Centennial Host Committee. They also recently provided leadership support for a joint venture between the Simmons School of Education and Human Development and the Lyle School of Engineering, the creation of a mobile maker truck workspace designed to create hands-on creative opportunities for K-12 students and teachers. In addition, Mr. Robson served on the athletics steering committee of SMU Unbridled: Second Century Campaign, while Mrs. Robson, a graduate of the University of Virginia and the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, is a member of the executive board of the Simmons School. She is a board member of the Arts Council at the University of Virginia, and in the Dallas community she is a member of the board of directors of La Fiesta De Las Seis Banderas and the Turtle Creek Chapter of the National Charity League.

Hannah and Joe Robson '76

Joe Robson is founder and president of The Robson Companies, Inc., a Tulsa real estate investment and development company. He also serves as chairman of the board of RCB Bank in Claremore, Oklahoma. An acclaimed homebuilder in Oklahoma, he is the recipient of several homebuilding awards and was 2009 chairman of the National Association of Home Builders. He currently serves as a trustee of the Tulsa Airport Authority and is on the Salvation Army National Advisory Board. A former SMU swimmer and member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, he received a bachelor's degree in real estate from SMU in 1976. Mrs. Robson, a graduate of the University of Tulsa, serves the Tulsa area in a variety of civic endeavors including chairman emeritus of Tulsa Ballet, board member of Tulsa Zoo Management, Inc., elder of First Presbyterian Church and a volunteer chaplain at Tulsa hospitals. Both Mr. and Mrs. Robson were inducted into the Tulsa Hall of Fame in 2013.

Shelli and Steve Lindley '74

Steve Lindley is the managing member of Athlon Solutions, LLC, a Houston-based refinery and petrochemical process and industrial water treatment company, and the former president of Permian Mud Services, Inc. and chairman of Champion Technologies, Inc. A 1974 SMU business school graduate, his support of SMU swimming and diving dates to his friendship with Sigma Alpha Epsilon roommate and SMU swimmer Bruce Robson and his respect for Coach George McMillion. He has served as a leader of a number of charitable foundations, including the Willard and Ruth Johnson Charitable Foundation, established in 1993 by his grandparents. Mr. Lindley has served SMU as a member of the Houston and Perkins School of Theology steering committees for the SMU Unbridled: Second Century Campaign. In addition, he has been a member of the SMU Alumni, Dedman College and Perkins Theology executive boards. Mrs. Lindley currently serves on the Glasscock Foundation Board of Trustees in Houston. The Lindleys have generously supported SMU, including significant commitments to Athletics, Cox School of Business and Perkins School of Theology. In Houston the couple have been active in and support St. Luke’s United Methodist Church, Houston Botanic Garden, Good Samaritan Foundation and other civic and charitable involvements.

Proud History

The SMU swimming and diving programs boast a proud history, highlighted by the men’s and women’s teams earning 58 conference championships and qualifying for 95 appearances at the NCAA National Championships. SMU swimmers and divers have earned 155 national titles and been honored as All Americans 1,465 times. Six Mustangs have been recognized as NCAA Swimmer of the Year or Diver of the Year.

SMU men’s and women’s swimmers have qualified for 109 Olympic appearances since 1952, winning eight gold medals, eight silver medals and four bronze medals.

Much of the SMU programs’ storied success can be traced to two legendary coaches: A.R. “Red” Barr and George “Coach Mac” McMillion ‘55. As head coach at SMU from 1946–71, Coach Barr led the Mustangs to 17 Southwest Conference championships. As a student, McMillion was captain of the 1954 SMU team, which won seven Southwest Conference individual championships. He returned to SMU and served as assistant coach for 14 years, then succeeded Barr as head coach in 1971. McMillion led the Mustangs to eight consecutive conference championships, and SMU earned a ranking among the top 15 teams each year he was head coach. Twelve divers earned All-America honors under the tutelage of assistant coach Bryan Robbins during McMillion’s tenure. Robbins also served as coach of the U.S. Olympic diving teams in 1976 and 1980. After 33 years as SMU head diving coach, Jim Stillson retired in July 2017.  He coached SMU divers to three Olympics, 10 U.S. National Championships and 71 All America titles. The NCAA named him Diving Coach of the Year three times.

Building on Mustang Legacy

Current swimming and diving head coaches, each with long tenures on the Hilltop, continue to build on the Mustang legacy. Men’s swimming and diving coach Eddie Sinnott ’76, another Mustang championship swimmer and a former assistant coach to McMillion, became coach of the men’s team after McMillion’s retirement in 1989. Sinnott also served as the head coach of the Haitian national team in 1996 and as assistant manager of the U.S. national team in 2008. Women’s swimming and diving coach Steve Collins inherited a championship team when he arrived in 1986. Under Collins, the women’s team has earned one of the top four spots in the nation for eight consecutive years, 1992–99. Collins also has led the national teams of Slovakia and Bulgaria. Former NCAA All American and three-time Big Ten Diver of the Year Darian Schmidt joined SMU as head men's and women's diving coach in June 2017. 


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