George Washington Swimmer Leading Effort to Save Smith Center Pool Following Historic Season

After sweeping Atlantic 10 conference titles and setting a program record with three NCAA qualifiers this year, George Washington swimmers are pushing back against university plans to turn their Smith Center pool into a new practice facility for the men’s and women’s basketball teams.

Nearly 3,000 people have signed a petition to save the Smith Center pool started by George Washington junior Julia Knox, who called it “heartbreaking” to have “essential facilities” taken away following such a successful season. By comparison, the Revolutionary men’s basketball team finished last in the A-10 this year and the women placed 11th out of 15 squads.

“Despite these achievements, our athletic department is planning to fill in our pool without providing us with a suitable alternative,” wrote Knox, a Northern Ireland native who last year became the first Revolutionary women to compete at the NCAA Championships since 1995. “This decision threatens not only our athletic success but also our academic performance… We ask you to join us in calling on GW’s athletic department to treat us fairly by halting their plans to fill in our pool until they can provide an adequate alternative solution which does not compromise either our academic or athletic success.”

George Washington athletic director Tanya Vogel said last month that the university had an agreement in principle “with a local facility that has an Olympic-sized pool with deep water,” but that offsite venue has yet to be publicized, according to the GW Hatchet. Last year, it was reported that the Revolutionaries were expected to relocate a few miles northwest to the GW Mount Vernon Athletics Facility in the long term, but not until a 30,000 square-foot building is constructed around the existing six-lane, 25-yard outdoor pool.

They have until around September before the Smith Center pool is filled in to accommodate Gorge Washington’s basketball programs. The Smith Center dates back to 1975, with its latest renovation coming in 2011.

At a local governing body meeting last month, Vogel pointed to teams such as baseball, gymnastics, tennis, and track that already practice at off-campus facilities. She said the athletic department is working with a shuttle service to ease the load of additional transportation.

Last fall, George Washington picked up its first dual meet victory ever against a Power Five opponent in Pitt. Even more remarkably, the Revolutionaries pulled off the upset in LCM competition while training within the SCY confines of the Smith Center pool.

They continued their momentum into the spring, sweeping Washington D.C. rival Georgetown in what could be the last meet ever in the Smith Center. Then in February, the George Washington men captured their fourth consecutive A-10 crown while the women won their third in a row.

Three Revolutionaries went to NCAAs in March — Ava Topolewski (500 free, 1650 free), junior Ava DeAngelis (100 breast, 200 breast), and redshirt senior Djurdje Matic (100 fly) — highlighted by Matic’s 14th-place finish in the 100 fly (personal-best 44.95).

George Washington head coach Brian Thomas has built his combined men’s and women’s program into one of the top mid-major groups in the country during just six seasons, sweeping the past three A-10 coach of the year honors along the way.

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Playgrounds and Grounds
1 month ago

Maybe they are going to fill the pool with water?????

1 month ago

The swimmers were told today that the plans for the basketball court were re-examined and deemed ‘unfeasible’ and the pool would not be filled in. The were also told that that the plans for a new, deep water pool on the Vern would be going forward. Great news and very surprising…

1 month ago

That’s great news, although I’d still tread lightly. Administration made that choice and they’re probably not too happy to go back on it.

Reply to  ForGotham
1 month ago

I agree. It would be difficult to trust the administration at this point.

1 month ago

FYI: GWU has an endowment of $2,600,000,000

Reply to  PBJSwimming
1 month ago

I want to save swimming programs as much as anybody, but opening up university endowments to athletics departments is not a can of worms I’m interested in.

I’d much rather see college athletics become more sustainable.

1 month ago

This is a definite indication of what the future holds. Time to hit the transfer portal and save yourselves.

1 month ago

This is so insane. Whoever made this decision for George Washington, I hope you get your head checked.

Save the Smith Center
1 month ago

My username says it all … the Revolutionaries deserve better. FWIW this pool is not even a great facility and we aren’t asking for much — it is 6 lanes and failed health department inspections, leaving us with chlorine poisoning, ear infections, and more. All of the basketball players can walk right across the street for their practice court so why is it fair for the swimmers to commute across the bridge to VA?

Last edited 1 month ago by Save the Smith Center
I miss the ISL (Go dawgs)
1 month ago

If you are a user of this site, GO SIGN THE PETITION NOW!!!

1 month ago

This is your reminder that athletic departments don’t care about swim and dive and should be an indicator for the future of NCAA swim and dive. It’s a non-revenue sport, if youre trying to manage your time and resources you’ll stop your non revenue generating hobby before you stop your salaried job.

About Riley Overend

Riley is an associate editor interested in the stories taking place outside of the pool just as much as the drama between the lane lines. A 2019 graduate of Boston College, he arrived at SwimSwam in April of 2022 after three years as a sports reporter and sports editor at newspapers …

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