Rec Pool to be replaced by two new pools that may not suit the needs of certain aquatic club teams
The UC Davis Recreation Pool (Rec Pool) has been under construction since Spring 2018. The original pool will be replaced by two new pools, according to the Project Manager Michele Leong. The construction is on schedule to be completed in the middle of May.
“It’s two pools instead of one,” Leong said. “One is an activity pool with a dive board. The other pool is a lap pool, and the lap pool is available for all-year-round use versus the old pool [which] was seasonal.”
New features of the renovation that UC Davis students will be able to enjoy include new bathroom fixtures, new showers, new locker rooms, shade canopies and a new sand volleyball court. The Associate Director for Campus Recreation, Jeff Heiser, also mentioned that the changing room and restrooms will be gender inclusive.
“Students can enjoy a variety of programming space[s] including: grassy space with anticipated outdoor yoga and other group wellness classes taught through LiveWell, additional lounging areas for studying, relaxing and socializing, indoor and outdoor showers, heated locker rooms and additional day lockers,” Heiser said via email.
This new aquatic center will be open for community access beginning the summer of 2019, according to the UC Davis Campus Recreation and Union’s website. The website lists reasons for the renovation, including that “Sport Clubs, Intramural Sports, Fitness and Wellness, Aquatics, Youth Programs and Informal Recreation are often competing for space and time at other campus pools.”
Women’s Club Water Polo President Carmen Steinmeier emphasized difficulties with finding the space and time for the team to practice when the only other two pools on campus are the Schaal Aquatic Center and Hickey Pool.
The Schaal Aquatic Center is run by the ICA, making it difficult for club water polo teams and other aquatic club sports to get practice time, according to Steinmeier. The women’s club water polo team currently practices at Schaal because Hickey Pool is not large enough for the team to play.
“The only time slot available [at Schaal] is 8 to 10 p.m. which isn’t really what we want to do,” Steinmeier said. “We even tried asking for 7 to 9 p.m. and they wouldn’t even give us that. There’s no contract between club and ICA, so we’re not even guaranteed the 8 to 10 spot.”
During Fall Quarter, however, women’s club water polo will be forced to use Hickey Pool because the men’s season is in the fall, and they will receive the 8 to 10 p.m. time slot.
“We can’t really play [at Hickey],” Steinmeier said. “We kind of just have to do circuit type things so we can fit girls into certain places, which isn’t really what we want to do.”
Although the new athletic recreation pool was intended to alleviate competition between Campus Recreation programs, the dimensions of the new pool are still not regulation size for water polo, according to Steinmeier.
“Last year, they had meetings with the board members from club water polo and swim, and they were asking us what type of storage we would need for our equipment and stuff like that, so it was pretty official that one of the pools was being made for us to use,” Steinmeier said. “Then, they made us aware of the dimensions of the pool that we were supposed to use, and it’s still not big enough for us. Basically, they were building a pool that they said was for [us], but we aren’t even able to use it.”
After learning the new pool was not going to be large enough for club polo teams, the Women’s Club Water Polo team scheduled meetings with administrators from other sports clubs and campus recreation to voice their concerns. The team grew increasingly frustrated with the response, or lack thereof, on the part of the university.
“We were basically like ‘Why are you building this giant pool that’s going to cost billions of dollars that isn’t even big enough for all of us to use?’” Steinmeier said. “We had meetings about [it] and they basically were like ‘Well, we already have the plans, we can’t do anything about it, this is what it’s going to be.’ They basically just brushed it off. We started a petition, and we tried to go to the chancellor, and the chancellor never got back to us and wouldn’t meet with us. No one really replied to or acknowledged our concerns.”
Steinmeier mentioned that the Women’s Club Water Polo team has been highly successful in recent years, yet the team is unable to benefit from the renovation of the Rec Pool.
“Right now, our women’s club water polo team is back-to-back defending national champions,” Steinmeier said. “Our club is growing, and it’s not fair that we are a very successful club that competes at high levels, but we’re not able to get the facilities we need.”
The lack of a pool that fits their needs will likely have long-term effects on UC Davis club water polo teams.
“I think definitely in the future, we’re either not going to have space or we’re going to have cut girls from the team, so we can have a smaller number of people to make space, but we don’t want to do that — it’s a club team, it should be open to everyone,” Steinmeier said. “It really kind of does suck that they didn’t listen to us or what we needed.”
Written By: Sabrina Habchi — firstname.lastname@example.org