Olympic pool being converted to parking due to lack of funds

Photo of FAMU Aquatics Center by Khalyn Harris

You would think every school in the Sunshine State would have a pool, right? Even Florida A&M, right?

The answer to your question is yes, FAMU does have a pool. In fact, it has two pools.

But it has been almost a decade since the Olympic pool located near the FAMU Aquatic Center behind Gaither Gymnasium  has been used. Due to the lack of funds to operate properly, the Student Government Association approved funds to keep things afloat.

But this wasn’t enough.

There still isn’t enough  money to maintain the pool.

This place that was once a gathering spot for a summer cool down will turn into a student parking lot. And while some may think this is a great idea, it is a depressing development for others.

Jorge Olaves, coordinator for aquatics, says he doesn’t even like to look in the direction of the old pool anymore.
“I have been working here for over 32 years and although I love working here, it makes me sad because there is so much potential here,” Olaves said.

After 2007, Olaves says no one showed any interest in renovating the pool, and things started dwindling down. As the years went on, fewer people used the pool, there weren’t as many lifeguards and the thought of swimming on FAMU’s campus drifted away.

The locker rooms are now used for storing equipment for events and the empty Olympic pool is used for teaching students to learn how to swim on dry land. Turtles have found shelter in the pool, due to the lack of care.

Students at FAMU feel as though the landmark pool should be kept and revamped. The pool is more than just a tub full of water, it is a representation of past greatness.

Between the swim team that used to compete in the pool to social gatherings for students, it was truly a place that brought the FAMU community together.

Alex Jackson, a current lifeguard, says there has to be another way to compromise.

“With the other pool still running, we still need rooms to change along with the public. If they tear down everything, not only will there be no space for guards but the equipment as well,” Jackson said.

Jackson comes from a family of lifeguards that used to work at FAMU’s pool and he feels as though the school should embrace what it has from when the school was originally built.

More money should be given towards aquatics to help bring back the livelihood of the pool instead continuing to push it to the back burner, he said.

Students still have access to the newer pool located directly behind Gaither Gym. It is open from 9-6 and swimming lessons are available.