Losing the most important part of the Florida A&M University aquatics program hurt. However, according to Aquatics Director Jorge Olaves, losing sight of all the advantages that the pool affords our University hurts worse.
Since 1998, the university has been without a proper swimming facility, limiting the exposure of the programs that are still able to be utilized. Opportunities like our endorsement aquatics, in which students have the opportunity to become certified in different fields of aquatics, has become an afterthought.
“Students can concentrate on coaching, instruction, life guarding, marine biology, oceanography, and operation of a pool facility all through our program and develop even farther,” Olaves said.
“Coach O“, as he is called by the swimmers, has been at Florida A&M for 21 years. He has seen the program from its inception to the point where it is now and wants to see it return to prominence.
“When I first got here there was nothing in aquatics. We built a program of 600 kids ages 12-17, who were participating in a national youth aquatics program and that is no more,” Coach O said.
A bid is now near completion and is in place to help begin the restoration process. Although the bid is for the smaller of the two pools, which has been closed since 2008, Coach O believes it’s a step in the right direction.
“We really haven’t had much money since 1997, but I’m really excited about the possibility of them bringing it back after three years with the current bid in place.” Olaves said.
Adrian Carter, a graduate architecture student from Ft. Lauderdale, Fl, is also ready to see the pool return to form.
“I would love to see the pool return to the way it was my freshman year,” Carter said. “I was a swimmer and a junior life guard when I was younger, so going to the pool was my release from school and being an adult.”
The Florida A&M program has helped many people go on to brighter careers in Aquatics and has even produced an Olympic qualifying swimmer in Mujahid El-Amin. With the resurgence of the program, Coach O hopes to add to that legacy.
“We were 36th in the country at one point, we were the HBCU champions in 2004. There are HBCU records that are held by my swimmers, they need to be broken.”