LEXINGTON, Va (WFXR) — Virginia Military Institute (VMI) celebrated the ribbon cutting of their brand new $44 million-dollar aquatic center. The facility features a 50-meter pool that can be divided into three sections to allow for multiple uses at once.

Lieutenant Colonial Daren Payne is the Deputy Director of Construction for this project– he says the new facility will impact every single student at VMI.

“Every cadet in this school will touch this pool at some point, actually at multiple points, throughout their time here at VMI,” said Lt. Col. Payne.

Lt. Col. Payne says the new 800,000-gallon pool will allow the school to open up more opportunities to their students.

“Putting this on campus will allow these people to get things like lifeguard certifications, water survival, scuba certifications, that before we didn’t have a large enough facility to accommodate,” said Lt. Col. Payne.

He adds that this project has been close to his heart for a long time.

“This was a unique experience for me getting to see this from the initial stages all the way to the ribbon cutting and first people jumping in the pool it’s been a great experience, it’s really neat,” said Lt. Col. Payne.

Additionally, the new aquatic center has room for more than 500 spectators– London Yerasimides says for athletes at VMI– this means the world.

“Having a big facility like this with all these people coming around and just showing their support and love for the team its very meaningful especially as a senior,” said Yerasimides.

Family, friends, and community members can support their VMI athletes much more easily now– Cadet Kate Taylor says the new facility will positively impact the future of VMI as a whole.

“It changes the narrative, and it allows us to kind of rewrite our story and to own our own future in terms of what VMI, what our sport teams are capable of, what the resources of our institute are, and how with this tremendous facility we’ve just raised the horizon, raised the bar even more,” said Taylor.

According to Major General, Cedric Wins the day of the ribbon cutting marked almost 100 years to the day that VMI opened its first swimming pool in Memorial Hall.