Charles "Red" Silvia was the Swimming coach of Springfield College, he coached swimming and teaches life saving at the College for 41 years, he coached more than 200 All-American swimmers and an Olympic Gold Medalist. He was elected to the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 1976. It was Arthur Gordon Linkletter, also known as Art Linkletter, who suggested that the college build a new swimming and diving facility. Art Linkletter was the famed entertainer best known for his TV series "House Party" that ran on CBS from 1952 to 1969. Art Linkletter believed so much in the project that he sold his house for $250,000 and donated the money to the project. Another $250,000 was raised by the student “Work Week” in 1967, where students worked jobs such as trimming hedges or moving telephone poles for donations. Other money was supplied by a federal grant, alumni gifts, and friends of the college. Groundbreaking took place on April 30, 1966. The natatorium had steel arches rising to 45 ft at their peaks. The pool was 169'1'' long and 44' wide, and was 4' deep at the south end and 12'6'' deep at the deep end. With a movable bulkhead that could shorten and lengthen the pool, it was the longest indoor collegiate pool in the Eastern US at that time. The Olympic-sized pool had permanent bleachers that could seat 490 spectators and roll-out bleachers that could seat 510. There were two classrooms with underwater picture windows that allowed coaches and instructors to observe the swimmers. Underwater speakers allowed them to correct swimming technique as they were swimming. There was also a closed circuit television system to further analyze swimming skills. On the day of the dedication, October 21, 1967, the former Swimming coach, Charles E. “Red” Silvia and Linkletter raced each other in the new pool. Linkletter beat Silvia by a tenth of a second. Later it was revealed that Linkletter had trained for three months prior to the event. The Art Linkletter Natatorium is still in use today as the main swimming and diving facility on campus, having been incorporated into the new Wellness and Recreation Complex that opened in 2008.
Written on back: Matt Grimaldi. Photographer. 242 Kenmore Dr. - Longmeadow, Mass
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