Athletics request repair of pool

Behind the Jake Gaither Gymnasium, surrounded by a barb-wired fence, sits an empty 25-meter swimming pool.

Following a mechanical room failure in 1999, the pool was drained so that repairs could be done.

Five years later the pool is still empty, with the exception of the rainwater it has collected.

According to Kendall Jones, director of Physical Plant Operations, the pool now needs new mechanical, electrical and chemical systems.

A new finish must also be put on the pool before it can be operational.

“The current mechanical room was outdated and rendered the pool unsafe,” Jones said. “It will cost an excess of $300,000 to bring the pool back on line.”

The Physical Education Department is responsible for the funding of the pool. E. Newton Jackson is the chair of the department.

Jackson said that the program has been working on fixing the pool for some time.

“I have spoken with the provost about this issue, and we will try to repair the pool during the next fiscal year,” Jackson said.

What was once a functional pool has become an eyesore as well as a safety hazard.

Jorge Olaves, director of the Rattler Aquatic Center, said that attempts have been made in the past to get the pool operational.

“I know it is an eyesore. I have requested funding to repair the pool. I have recommended that it (the closed pool) be converted into an indoor swimming pool,” Olaves said.

The University has no plans for an indoor swimming pool.

According to campus recreational officials, the $6.9 million fitness center, scheduled to begin construction in August, does not include an indoor swimming pool.

The proposed Convocation-Teaching Gymnasium also would not include an indoor pool.

The FAMU swim team currently practices in the Outdoor Aquatic pool.

“The swim team practices at 6 a.m., four days a week, and you know how cold it is up here during that time of year,” said Olaves, a former coach of the swim team.

“Even if the water is heated, what happens when the swimmers get out of the pool?” Olaves asked.

Karen Brown, assistant director of facility planning said that the idea of converting the outdoor teaching pool into an indoor teaching pool has come along at a good time.

“We are preparing for a plant needs assessment survey for the Department of Education,” Brown said.

She said the assessment survey is a part of the revision to the University’s master plan for 2005.

If the proper steps are taken, the conversion of the outdoor pool to an indoor pool could be considered in the assessment, Brown said.

The current Olympic-size pool is open for most of the year, with the exception of holidays.

The pool is open to students for recreational swimming Monday-Friday from 12 to 7:30 p.m. and Saturday from 12 to 5 p.m.

The Aquatic Center also offers swimming lessons, as well as lifeguard, water safety instructor, first aid and CPR classes.

Contact Rashard Thurston at