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Avery Family "Pools" Their Resources Again
They've already funded the largest outdoor swimming and diving facility in the nation, but Marion "Pete" Avery and her extended family of Stanford alumni were ecstatic to receive a phone call from John Arrillaga, longtime driver and supporter of athletic building plans on the Farm, asking about a joint project on the west side of campus. The outcome of that conversation, the Avery Recreational Pool, now under construction at the new Arrillaga Outdoor Education and Recreation Center, will create what some are saying will be the most elegant pool on campus.
"People laugh that we're funding yet another pool, but the demand is amazing," says Brian Avery, '78, co-president of Avery Ventures in Mountain View, Calif. He and his brothers, Chris, '73, Matthew, '82, and Regan, '82, enjoyed both competitive and recreational aquatic sports at Stanford. And as they know, as many as 1,200 people a day use the Avery Aquatic Center, which opened in 2001.
The new Avery Pool, which will welcome swimmers in 2013, is a 50-meter Olympic-scale facility, but it will be dedicated entirely to recreational use. One end will have a "zero-entry" feature that allows people to get in and out of the pool without using standard ladders. An extended shallow area will be perfect for children and others learning to swim, for therapy and water exercise programs, and of course for casual lounging. Strategically placed "drops" will allow instructors to stand on the bottom while teaching and provide safe spots for younger students to practice in water over their heads. The pool will also accommodate activities as varied as lap swimming, club water polo, water aerobics, kayak lessons, and scuba classes.
"The combination of the new Arrillaga Center and pool on the west side of campus will put new recreational options right in people's laps," notes Brian. The Department of Athletics, Physical Education and Recreation is considering quite extensive hours to meet the needs of pool users.
"I'm particularly delighted that not just athletes but students, faculty, and staff will be able to access this form of exercise," says Marion Avery. Also an avid swimmer, she and her late husband Burt, '45, MBA '48, provided the lead gift for the Avery Aquatic Center.
The family's Stanford connections extend beyond aquatics. Burt's mother and father graduated from the university, as did his brother and sister and four of Marion and Burt's sons (Bruce graduated from the University of Southern California in 1977). Two of their grandchildren attend or have recently graduated from Stanford. Their philanthropy includes establishing Stanford's first endowed professorship in immunology in 1988.
In 1999, when construction began on the Avery Aquatic Center, Burt remarked, "Swimming and water polo have been a blessing to our family because our sons learned about sportsmanship, team spirit, and healthy competition."
Reflecting on her family's aquatic gifts to the university, Marion says, "It's been very rewarding to me when friends say their grandchildren just swam in a league or national championship meet, or played in the Junior Olympics Water Polo tournament at Stanford. Years later, I see that these kids are competing at the highest levels in different colleges. It makes me happy that so many in the community have benefited from the aquatic center, and we know that many more will benefit from the new pool."