Swimmers desperate for new pool

The Florida A&M swim team continues to face the challenge of not having it’s own pool but the team is gaining support. “The pool has not received funds from the student government association in three years,” said Jorge Olaves, pool manager and former swim team coach. “I kept it running for a year, but afterwards it had to close. It has been closed for two years now.”Members of the swim team hope to bring a pool back to Florida A&M to serve the students, faculty and surrounding community. This message is evident on the Facebook group titled “A Christmas Present for FAMU: Operation New Pool.”On the wall of the group students have written words of encouragement. Akie Smythe, 20, a third year international agriculture and business student from Miami and swim team member, created the group in late 2009 hoping to gain support for a petition. “There are over 1,000 signatures,” said Smythe. Members of the team currently practice at Morcom Aquatics Center, a facility of Florida State University. “Our pool time is limited to Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. unless we have a swim meet on Saturday. Any other time someone else is using the facility. Therefore [it is] not available to us,” said Alexandra Age, 18, first year chemistry student from New Orleans.Age is not allowed to have a car on campus because she is a freshman; yet practices are held off campus. “It is inconvenient to travel. It wastes gas and it’s not right around the corner so it’s just really inconvenient,” said Age.“It would be very convenient having our own pool. We would be able to practice twice a day which would make us better and we wouldn’t have to waste gas,” Age continued.Several students were unaware of the situation. Sherrod Anthony, 20, a second year social work student from Miami did not know Florida A&M had a swim team. Neither did Jahvon Montague, 18, a first year biology student from Fort Lauderdale.“That’s shocking!” Montague said, after learning of the swim team’s situation. Montague said that “Rattler Boosters Inc. should put forth special effort to help the sports teams that get less attention from the student body and contributors.”“The cost of renovation has been estimated at $1 million, and that is just to renovate the small pool, not the Olympic pool,” said Olaves.“We should be privileged like other institutions,” said Anthony. “That is inconsiderate that FAMU spends money for other sports, but won’t even spend money for the ones who enjoy the sport of swimming.”Both Anthony and Montague agree that awareness within the student body will aid the team on their mission to get a new swimming pool.