State swim meet might be one of the last to take place at UW - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

State swim meet might be one of the last to take place on UW campus

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MADISON (WKOW)-- Swim fans are excited to be back in Madison for this year's boys state finals. The competition started Friday afternoon and will end with final team swimming Saturday night.

The Natatorium on UW campus has hosted the state swimming and diving finals for nearly 50 years. That streak is now in jeopardy with university officials planning an expansion to the Natatorium and the Southeast Recreational Facility. 

The $220 million referendum would provide more exercise space for students, but eliminate a competition pool on campus. For more information on the full referendum click here.

"This is always a long term process that goes on. We're accustomed to that from previous referendums. We do everything to try to prepare the best we can for all the different options," WIAA Tournament Director Tom Shafranski says.

Several organizations in the area are pushing to keep the pool, including a group of swimming families who started a Facebook page to spread the message. Click here to visit the group's facebook page.

The group wants a new competition sized pool to replace the old one that would be torn down under the referendum. A new pool could happen if someone steps forward to fund it. If not, the state finals would likely have to move out of Madison.

"We're not aware of a pool in this area right now that's able to provide what we need for about 1,800 people per tournament," Shafranski says.

Many of the swimmers and divers at the meet this weekend had no idea there was a referendum that could soon eliminate their opportunity to visit Madison and compete.

"It would be really sad to see this pool go, because there's a lot of history between how many people who have swam here and who have been really good," freshman swimmer Sam Wade says.

"It's the trip to Madison. It's everything that makes it a little bit more special, more than any other meet," senior swimmer Alec Carlson explains.

For the nearly 4,000 fans and swimmers who come to Madison each year, the trip to the state capitol is an annual tradition they look forward to and they're hoping against hope that somehow they'll be able to keep that time honored tradition alive.

"It's got a historic feel to it because all of the other state meets have happened here," Carlson says.

UW students will vote on the referendum in early March. The UW Division of Recreational Sports started a facebook page to give students up to date information on the referendum.

The project would add a significant amount of space and several new features to the two athletic buildings on campus, but would cost students an extra $90-100 per semester in student fees. A group of students is trying to motivate their fellow classmates to not only consider the cost, but also the benefit of a better facility. They too created a facebook page to spread the word on what this new referendum will all include.

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