Swimming toward a new pool

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Mike Weinstein ‘70 (center) presents his donation to the Homecoming crowd. [Photo by Athletics/ Douglas Kilpatrick / Chuck Zovko]

Katelyn Arnold

Alumni and former CEO of Snapple donates $5.6 million

This upcoming March, Ruef Natatorium will undergo a $5.6 million renovation funded by a donation from former CEO of Snapple Mike Weinstein ‘70 and his wife Jill. Renovations will be completed September 2016.

The plans for the facility include the addition of exterior windows, upgrades to the spectator seating and pool lighting, the addition of one-meter and three-meter diving towers, a new scoreboard, new mechanical systems, a new pool tank finish and an upgraded race timing system.

This gift is a continuation of the support the Weinsteins have given to the college. They have previously established a million-dollar scholarship fund in support of the members of the varsity swimming and diving teams.

In 2011, Mike and Jill Weinstein were inducted into the College’s Société d’Honneur, which recognizes exceptional lifetime generosity. To honor their most recent gift, the facility will be renamed Weinstein Natatorium and will honor the Ruef family with a plaque inside the facility.

Mike Weinstein commends Lafayette College for the education he believes guided him to success in the business world. In addition, his experience as a student-athlete provided experiences that helped shape his character. With this gift, he hopes Lafayette student-athletes will receive a facility that “mirrors the quality of education and experience” that they deserve.

While at Lafayette, Weinstein studied economics, captained the swim and water polo teams, was a member of Phi Beta Kappa and eventually graduated with honors.

Since his time on College Hill, Weinstein received his MBA from Harvard Business School and now serves as chairman of INOV8 Beverage Consulting Group. His career is highlighted by his success in turning around the Snapple Brand. In 1997, Weinstein became CEO of Snapple and increased the brand sale price from $300 million to $1.45 billion in three years.

Adhering to Weinstein’s hope, renovations to this extent will consequently improve the experience for the goers of the natatorium. The facility is home to the College’s Division I swimming and diving teams and also acts as a venue for intramural, club and recreational use.

“I’m very excited for the new renovations,” junior swimmer Stephanie Nickerson wrote in an email. “Due to the renovations, we will be able to have more home meets [for] which I am very excited. That means we can have the Lafayette community become more aware about the swim team.”

In addition, these renovations will attract swimming and diving recruits to Lafayette College, said Jim Daily, the head coach of the program. Because the program does not offer scholarships, the condition of the facilities which they offer may become a valuable piece in enticing top-level swimmers and divers and top-level students as well.

“I can’t say that I’ve lost a prospect that told me they decided to go some place else because they have [larger] pool, but this will ensure that that wouldn’t be the case any longer,” Dailey said.

Dailey said that Weinstein had intended to make a large contribution to the program for some time, and this worked out to be the correct time to do so.

“He’s an outstanding alumni, not even just because of this gift,” Dailey said. “He’s given a lot to the school. This one happened to be earmarked towards swimming. Just like all of my other alum, we are part of a family.”

Should the plans stay on track, the renovations are set to be finished by next fall. Once completed, varsity swimmers and divers, intramural and recreation sports participants, and the entire Easton community, which is welcome in the facility, will begin to reap the benefits of Weinstein’s generosity.