Gift Made to Name College's Natatorium

In December, the natatorium in the college’s Athletics and Events Center was named in honor of Kelsey Partridge Bird, daughter of alumni donors Lee and Linda Bird, who both graduated from the School of Business in 1986. Their endowment of the Kelsey Partridge Bird Natatorium will sustain the pool’s operational costs for generations.

The Birds’ gift to name the natatorium is not their only contribution to the facility within the Athletics and Events Center. In 2009, the Birds made a gift to name the warming pool housed within the facility. As with the natatorium, the warming pool, known as Kelsey’s Pool, is named after Lee and Linda’s third child of eight, who was born with a heart condition and lived 13 days.

“We wanted Kelsey to be remembered here on earth and find a way to perpetuate her name,” Lee says. “Those 13 days changed our whole perspective on life, love, and community; that’s why we decided to name the warming pool after her.”

Linda says, “Our thinking was because Kelsey isn’t here to experience key moments in life like going off to college, naming the warming pool after her was a perfect opportunity to remember her.” Today, swimmers and divers routinely recharge in Kelsey’s Pool.

The natatorium facility benefits more than the swim teams. Faculty and students from departments across campus regularly use the facilities in their classes. There are open swim opportunities, swimming lessons for adults and children, and lifeguard training and scuba certification for community members. Additionally, the pool also hosts numerous regional and state high school swim meets each year, and in 2014 it served as the venue for an American Heart Association fundraising event.

Lee was an all-American swimmer while at IC, who met Linda through their high school swim team. “When we started talking more seriously about making a gift to name the natatorium, we were really looking for something that would have a lasting effect on IC,” he said. “The turning point was realizing how much the pool benefits not only the IC community but also the community at large.”