Rumors of a crack and expensive upkeep of the Student Recreation Center’s pool led students and community members to believe the waves were gone for good.
Since the spring of 2020, when the university shut down due to COVID-19, the rec. center’s pool has been closed.
Many believed there was a crack in the foundation and the up-keep of the space was too expensive for the university, leading individuals to believe the pool would stay closed.
Justin Harden, the Director of University Recreation and Wellness Programs, says there was no crack and they had just emptied the pool of its’ water because no one was using it.
“We were very limited in what we could do inside our facility,” Harden said. “Once we were able to open up our facility a little bit more and lessen the restrictions inside the Student Rec. Center, we decide to start the process of opening the pool.”
The process of re-opening began last fall, at the beginning of the school year. Harden says that because the pool had been empty for such a long time, with its pumps and other mechanics not being utilized, the center had to take its time making sure everything ran properly again.
Alongside the pumps and mechanics essentially being restarted, the rec. center decided to add minor adjustments to the pool.
“We wanted to take the time to fix some of the foundations of the pool,” Harden said. “It is a very old pool, it’s original to the facility. We wanted to fix some foundations and clean it, we wanted to redo some tile work that we were going to do prior to the pandemic. Now, we are in the process of making sure everything runs smoothly before we open it back up to the public.”
Harden says President David Eisler was in full support of bringing the pool back for students to use in an updated condition. stating the University provided funding to help support the project.
According to Stoney Hart, associate director of the rec. center, a company needed to be hired to complete the work before a physical renovation could be done.
Finding the right company took some time as the University was looking for experts in repairs, tilework and mechanics for pools within their budget.
“The University looked into companies to come in and take care of these maintenance needs,” Hart said. “When all of that happens, it takes a long time for companies to come in and do their specific projects. That’s what led it to be as long as it was. It’s just time-consuming to get all the pieces back in order.”
Pre-optometry freshman Emily Gilbert is looking forward to getting back into the rec. center’s water with the swim club as their president.
The swim club used the rec. center’s pool for practices, preparing for meets against other schools like Grand Valley State University and Notre Dame. Since the closing of the university pool, the club has had to practice 40 minutes outside of campus.
“We were able to find it in the budget to get memberships to the YMCA in Cadilac,” Gilbert said. “So, we did for a few months have practiced there, but because it’s a 40-minute drive, it’s hard for a lot of students to fit it into their schedules.”
While the club was no longer using the recreation facility in any capacity, Gilbert said Harden and Hart have been supportive because the situation is so unique for them.
Gilbert said the two had all of the communication with the YMCA in Cadilac settled, and have been encouraging fellow bulldog swimmers to participate in the club.
“[Hart] introduced me to all the other clubs so that I knew who I could talk to about possibly getting new members,” Gilbert said. “He also gave my information to anyone that inquired about the team or the pool in general.”
For this fall, Gilbert said she and the 20 other swim club members are feeling relieved that they will be able to practice in their home pool again and encourage other students with an interest in swimming to join them.
The pool is set to be reopened this coming fall, at the beginning of the 2022-2023 school year. Students and community members will be able to return to the water and enjoy swimming just like before.