Swimming pool to be filled, future location of swim meets unknown
April 24, 2009
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On April 15, the swim team gathered in the Warrick room in Ragan-Brown Field House with Athletic Director Tom Palombo, Mike Merkel, the P.E. center facilities manager, and Jon Varnell, the associate vice president of operations and facilities. They were told that the severe damage to the pool had forced the college to decide to fill in the pool over the summer. According to Varnell, most, if not all, of the piping is failing and leaking. Another issue is concrete popping off within the pool.
The pool is 30 years old and piping usually last only 20 years. Pools are very labor and maintenance intensive. In the last three and a half years, the pool has been drained four times, costing a lot of money. Some of the damage was due its previous tenants.
“During the YMCA era, there was accelerated wear and tear while little maintenance was done,” said Varnell. “Over the last five years, much maintenance has been done to try to keep this pool going.”
As of three weeks ago, the estimate on necessary repairs was between $700,000 and $1,000,000. This is money that Guilford cannot afford.
The college is currently trying to figure out what to do with the space. One idea is to move the weight and cardio rooms to where the pool is. The current cardio and weight rooms would be turned into yoga and Tai Chi rooms.
“This would allow yoga, Tai Chi and other group exercise types to have the quiet space that they need while allowing the gym to stay open for more open gym time,” said Varnell.
“I am excited for the opportunities this challenge brings. With approximately 330 athletes, athletics need more space, and with the current pool space converted, far more people will have the opportunity to use the space; therefore serving the Guilford community better. It’s sad for the swim team, but it is good for the Guilford community.”
“They were trying to think about the community, but they didn’t because lots of people are upset,” said junior Kim Abbott, who swam her first season with Guilford this year. “I transferred here to get away from this kind of thing at my old school.”
“It will have a major impact on me because I swim five times a week,” said Jim Hood. “It is currently my main source for exercise. I might have to go to another pool, which is hard to schedule, or I might start running, which I don’t want to do.”
Palombo and Randy Doss are currently exploring swim team options for the upcoming season next winter. These include working out a deal with Greensboro College or the YMCA downtown.
“We are in the process of locating a place for the team and to have home meets,” said Palombo. “Obviously it’s not as good as being at Guilford, but we are trying to get something that works for everyone.”
“We already had to work out a set schedule, but we have to work around others’ schedules,” said Abbott. “We might never have home meets again.