Making a Splash

By UM News

Making a Splash

By UM News
Newly renovated University Center Pool reopens with fanfare, a swim team win, and a poolside party for all.

Just in time for South Florida’s sunny winter—and after a $1.8 million, seven-month renovation—the Whitten University Center Pool will celebrate its grand reopening at noon on Thursday, January 14 with a poolside party, complete with live music, a catered barbecue, and giveaways of towels, beach balls, and sunscreen.

But, fittingly, the University of Miami swimming and diving team already inaugurated the pool on January 6, when the women’s swim team happily returned to their sorely missed home to officially begin preparing for the spring season.

“So many emotions—relief, excitement, anticipation,” said head swimming coach Andy Kershaw, who with assistant coach Caroline Maxvill, manager Zach Hinsley, and the Hurricanes swimmers, locked hands for a celebratory group plunge into the water before their early morning practice.

“You look around at this pool and it looks so good,” Kershaw said. “We know it’s a place where we can prepare to accomplish all that we’ve set forth.”

Dedicated in 1966, the double Olympic-sized pool closed for its first major renovation in five decades last May with the goals of making the 650,000-gallon lakeside oasis even more enjoyable for students, faculty, and staff, and better able to host national and amateur swimming events. The latter goal was accomplished by deepening the shallow end by six inches, to 4 ½ feet.

Other improvements include a new chemical water purification system, new heating and cooling capabilities, a modern no-coping gutter system, a new deck finish, new lane lines, new lighting, and, not least of all, a new look.

“The pool served the University well for many decades,” said Nicholas Rau, associate director of the Student Center Complex, “but it was time to bring it into the modern age. Now it has a very impressive, modern look. The water level is almost even with the deck, and the liner, which used to be white, is now blue, which makes the water an attractive, tropical sea blue.”

Junior Nicole Gonzalez, an elementary education major who has spent months eyeing the empty pool and busy construction site, is especially glad to see those inviting blue waters.

“It was a little frustrating looking at it all summer, but the wait will be worth it,” said Gonzalez, who works in the Shalala Student Center for the Department of Orientation and Commuter Student Involvement. “It’s really beautiful now, and I’m really excited about it reopening. I think everyone is.”

During the closure, Hurricanes swimmers and divers carpooled to nearby pools, even hosting a meet against Princeton at a local high school. Now, the aquatic ’Canes are able to show off their new pool—with its eight swimming lanes; five springboards; and 5-, 7-, and 10-meter diving platforms—along with their aquatic prowess. They swept Kansas and Rutgers at a tri-meet on Saturday, January 9, and will host a Senior Day home meet against Florida Gulf Coast University at 4 p.m. on Friday, January 15.

Now other students, faculty, staff, and guests can enjoy the pool every Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., on Fridays from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 5 p.m. And everybody is invited to the party, poolside, from noon to 2 p.m. on Thursday, January 14.

View a photo gallery of the pool renovation.