When it opened in 1973 as the CSU Natatorium, it was considered special simply because it was one of only two university indoor pools in the state of Ohio that was 50 meters in length. Since there were not many other pools like it in the country, it received immediate notice from the rest of the swimming community.
However, there were other aspects of the pool that made it unusual. The one feature that immediately stood out was the pool's large gutters, which made it extremely fast compared to those of other schools. In March of 1975, the NCAA decided to examine the theory itself when it scheduled the NCAA Division I and II Championships in Cleveland for the very first time. Over the course of consecutive weekends, the NCAA came to the conclusion that the Busbey Natatorium was one of a kind.
Following this historic meet, the NCAA gave in to the demands of swimmers and coaches alike and decided to return the championship meet to Cleveland State. When the 1977 Division I Championships were completed, there was no doubt left as to which pool was superior in the United States. The meet featured the shattering of sixteen NCAA records; a mark that still stands today. In fact, the 1977 finals were later termed as "The greatest swimmers in the fastest pool at the greatest meet in history" by none other than the NCAA itself.
Two years later, the meet returned to Cleveland, and, after a five year lapse, it was back again for a fourth time in 1984 to sellout crowds yet again. Since that time, the Busbey Natatorium has also served as host to other top-notch collegiate championships. The pool has been an eleven-time host site of the Eastern Intercollegiate Championships and hosted the Penn-Ohio Conference Championships a staggering 17 times.
The natatorium measures 50 meters in length (with nine eight-foot competitive lanes) by 25 yards wide (with 23 seven-foot competitive lanes) with racing lanes measuring 12 to 16-1/2 feet deep. Below the surface, the pool features underwater speakers and six underwater windows which provide the CSU staff with an excellent coaching tool.
Also, the pool utilizes an automatic touchpad timing system for up to ten lanes during meets. In terms of diving competitions, the natatorium includes two one-meter maxiflex boards, two three-meter maxiflex boards, and a diving tower with platforms at 5, 7-1/2, and 10 meters.
For the swimming spectator, the Busbey Natatorium has a seating capacity of 1,500 fans. To boost the number of potential viewers, the university has constructed permanent television broadcast and camera platforms which have been used by the ABC, CBS, NBC and ESPN networks during the pool's illustrious history.
In ceremonies held on October 2, 1999, the CSU Natatorium was officially renamed The Robert F. Busbey Natatorium, in honor of long-time swimming coach and athletic director, Bob Busbey. Over a span of nearly a half-century, beginning with his enrollment at Fenn College in 1946, Busbey impacted the University's sports program as only a special few men have at any collegiate institution.
For all its special features and the amount of events it has hosted in its 29 years, The Robert F. Busbey Natatorium truly enjoys one of the most fascinating histories of any aquatic facility in the United States.