Illustration by Rebecca Cho
At the U.S. Olympic Team Trials-Swimming, BYU and University of Utah swimmers competed for a chance to swim in the 2016 Games. With every eligible swimmer in the nation competing, 957 swimmers qualified for the trials and 15 came from Utah and BYU.
Utah has 28 high school swim teams in Class 5A alone, and nearby Pleasant Grove High School has 64 total swimmers. If these athletes want to continue swimming at the collegiate level, they won’t seek to attend Utah Valley University.
Despite its 75-year history, UVU still does not have a swimming pool. This leaves a void in competitive athletics. UVU competes in the Western Athletic Conference, which has nine men’s swim teams and eight women’s swim teams. Adding a pool to campus would not only benefit athletes, but the whole student body.
Physical wellness is a stated priority for UVU and the Student Life and Wellness Center is proof. With amenities including an indoor track, yoga and dance rooms and a rock climbing facility, it is obvious the university cares a great deal. However, students still wonder where the pool is.
“With the amount of thought that went into the new facility, I can’t believe there isn’t a pool on campus,” said Peter Fazio, a junior studying biology.
The university seems to put forth effort toward keeping tuition and fees at a minimum, which students love. But the same emphasis on students may be the sole reason they aren’t swimming laps between classes.
“The SLWC is a $40 million facility,” said DeSheek Akwenye, Director of Campus Recreation and Wellness. “Student fees funded 100 percent of the facility.”
Director Akwenye said many people went into the design of the facility, including the UVU Student Association.
Prior to building, decision makers visited other universities to assess what an improved Student Center might include.
“Our goal was to mix the feelings we got from other facilities with the culture at UVU,” said Director Akwenye. “We wanted to provide as many opportunities as possible to the students. Everyone involved took a holistic approach to student wellness. I am really happy with the result.”
Adding an aquatic facility would have put the budget out of reach. Students would have seen a dramatic increase in student fees and a delay in construction. Director Akwenye said an aquatic facility was considered, but the plan was dropped at the mention of an additional $5 to $10 million price tag. These are millions of dollars, which would have been divided evenly and applied to student fees.
For those who would gladly pay a few extra dollars for a chlorinated lunch break, all is not lost. Land west of Interstate 15 has been purchased for greater campus expansion. If the powers that be maintain the current fee structure, an aquatic facility may be on the horizon.