Concord University, located in Athens, West Virginia has announced the closure of the school’s pool located in the Carter Center on-campus. Although the University itself is devoid of a school swimming and/or diving program, several key swim organizations within the community use the pool and are now seeing themselves as suddenly displaced. Teams such as the C-Lions and PikeView High School swim teams utilize the pool for training and competitions and say they are now left to scramble for a new aquatic home.
The official statement released on-campus last Friday was as follows:
“In recent days, the pool has experienced some maintenance issues requiring the temporary closure of the facility. During these challenging budgetary times, we have also considered the on-going operational costs, as well as significant deferred maintenance associated with the continued operation of the pool. Therefore, until further notice, the Concord University Pool will be closed. During this time, we will be exploring additional opportunities to utilize the space to best serve our students, faculty and staff while staying true to the core mission of the university. Thank you in advance for your understanding and flexibility as we attempt to minimize the effect that this closure may have on our community.”
University President Dr. Kendra Boggess added to the statement that “There are maintenance issues, there’s the cost of operations of the pool, and what I would like them to know is we are doing the very best we can right now with the resources that we have.” She went on to specify that, with the state’s 4% budget cut for higher education, the swimming pool “was the most obvious resource to cut.”
Lynne White, a local swim mom and registrar of the C-Lions Team, told the Bluefield Daily Telegraph that, “While actively planning our upcoming winter seasons, both teams found out only by happenstance that Concord was seriously considering closing the pool.”
Two students gave comments to the media on how the closure affects them specifically. Pikeview sophomore Braxton Justice expressed, “I was disgusted honestly, they basically betrayed us. They didn’t mention it to our officers, they didn’t mention it to any of us.” According to teammate Callie Lamb’s perspective, “Not being able to be in the pool year round, it takes a huge toll on your fitness overall. So after giving up 12 years of your life to it, it’s kind of upsetting that you don’t get to finish out the last two years.”
As of right now, the clubs don’t know where they will be practicing, as very few alternatives exist in terms of pool space. Tal Sutton, general chair of West Virginia Swimming, says he would like Concord University to give the swimming community a chance to help out and work through the maintenance issues. Pikeview and C-Lions swim coach John Lamb says he personally offered to have his company rebuild the current pump for free, but that the offer was rejected.
Dr. Boggess indicated that more than just a pump replacement was needed. “We’d love to be able to open it [the pool] again, but right now we’re just not going to be able to unless something dramatic happens.”