Club SportsSports

Oregon club swimming dives into its new pool

Take the stairs to the “Downtown” section of the newly renovated Student Recreation Center at the University of Oregon and you’ll stumble upon one of the best updates to the facility. The new pool is a peaceful spot with crystal blue water and is only disturbed by the occasional kicks and strokes of a student swimming laps. In the corner, there is a hot tub. The other segment is devoted to aquatic games like water volleyball and basketball.

No one appreciates it more than the Oregon club swim team who has been practicing there since last winter.

“It’s a beautiful pool and it’s a thousand times better than it was before,” Bridget Shepherd, a fourth year member with the club, said.

The biggest issue before the renovation was that the pool was too small. The lack of lanes meant they had trouble scheduling practice times that everyone on the team could make, often forcing them to travel off campus just to train.

Now, the pool has been expanded to 16 lanes, meaning the swim team can hold practice even if other clubs and students are there as well.

The other thing the club loves about the update is the exposure the new facility gives them, which is something they struggled with in the past.

“I remember touring the school and I went up to the rec center and I was like ‘where is the pool,’” club member Amanda Radtke said.

Radtke’s confusion is understandable. Before the renovation, the pool was hidden away deep in the recesses of the basement with just an 8-by-12 inch window providing a look outside.

Now the walls are lined with big bay windows, so students taking a break between reps in the weight room can watch the club practice.

“I think its hilarious, super funny,” second year member Audrey Huetteman said, laughing at the extra attention. “Some of our drills can be a little ridiculous, so they probably think: ‘what are they doing?’”

While the exposure might be a little awkward, it helps the team connect with the campus community, hopefully drawing in new members.

Having the new facility also tethers the Duck swimmers to a set location and building upon their identity as a program. They finally have a venue attached to their team, and while there are a few quirks that could be better — like sturdier starter blocks that don’t tear up feet or having the pool be deeper — they are pleased with their new home.

So are their competitors, apparently.

When word got out about the new facility being built, Stanford and Santa Clara wanted to come compete in a meet to check out the pool. In response, the Ducks decided to host the first swim meet at Oregon since 1978 last winter, inviting both schools to come north to participate. The inaugural competition turned out to be a resounding success.

“They really liked it,” Shepard said.

This year, there are no meets currently on the schedule because the program is content to travel. That doesn’t mean they won’t be spending as much time as possible in their new pool.

Follow Christopher Keizur on Twitter @chriskeizur

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Christopher Keizur

Christopher Keizur