Stony Brook Swim Teams on Indefinite “Continuing Competitive Hiatus” After Pool Renovations Defunded

The Stony Brook men’s and women’s swimming & diving teams are on “permanent competitive hiatus,” or as team captain Allison Zelnick put it “forced retirement,” after planned renovations to their pool were suddenly defunded.

As Zelnick described the process, the pool was drained with plans to be renovated, but upon inspection was deemed to be unsafe. Then, just when the facility needed them the most, half of the school’s critical maintenance funds were cut. That meant that the $10 million pool renovation was pushed down a waiting list (far down in fact).

This meant that there was no 2012-2013 season for the men’s and women’s programs, and none in the foreseeable future for the Seawolves.

Stony Brook is a part of the State University of New York system, and in fact according to a letter sent out by University president Samuel Stanley on February 4th are the only school in the system to presently have any sort of emergency maintenance funding, however. Stanley also said that they are working with SUNY to advocate for further capital funding.

Under current circumstances, the process of re-applying for capital funds will take 3 years or more, as described by Stony Brook Athletics Director Jim Fiore to the team; in the meantime, while the program isn’t officially cut, they have ceased competition until the pool is renovated, and have stopped all recruiting activities as well.

The timing for the program couldn’t be worse; the program was put into its current state 7 weeks before the passing of head coach Dave Alexander, who had been with the program for 32 years right up until the end. The school had also recently made the jump from Division III to Division I, and the team was beginning to gain some momentum. In their last America East Conference Championship meet, the men finished 4th and the women were 5th, and both teams were garnering some momentum forward.

The team was planned to miss the 2012-2013 season even before the funding was cut, and swimmers have been informed that now that status will be continued until the money can be found to complete the renovations to the pool.

The pool is used by many other groups, including other of the school’s athletics teams, masters programs, and the general student body. The University has a total enrollment of just short of 26,000 students.

The current pool is a small 6-lane, 25-yard on-campus facility. The women’s team has full scholarship funding, while the men’s team doesn’t offer any scholarships. The school did commit to honor all scholarships awarded to members of the swim team.

Swimmers on the team are asking that those in support of their cause sign the petition here asking that a solution be found to correct the issues with the pool:

You can also join the Facebook event here:

The full notice sent out by the Office of the Vice President of External Relations is below:

To All Students, Faculty and Staff,

This notice is to inform the campus community that due to budget
constraints, the University Pool in the Athletic Complex at Stony
Brook University that was slated to undergo a critical maintenance
renovation planned to be completed in the 2012-13 academic year, will
be closed until capital funding is made available to initiate the
estimated $10 million project.

One consequence of the delayed renovation is that the Stony Brook
University Department of Athletics must extend the competitive hiatus
of the Men’s and Women’s Swimming and Diving programs. The swimming
and diving programs were already in a one-year competitive hiatus,
which coincided with the planned renovation project as announced in
May 2012. Stony Brook University swimming and diving student-athletes
have been informed of the extended renovation delay in order to allow
them to make the best decisions in support of their individual
athletic and academic futures. For swimming or diving
student-athletes who choose to stay at Stony Brook, we will honor all
current athletic scholarships and will continue to receive academic
support and student-athlete welfare services. For any swimming or
diving student-athletes who wish to pursue the opportunity to
transfer to another institution, we will support their unconditional

Another consequence of the extended pool closure is that one of our
academic programs that utilizes the pool will have to seek an
alternative site for instructional purposes. We are working with the
program director, local officials and others in the community to
secure an alternate facility that meets the requirements of this
academic program and is within close proximity to the University.

Although the timeline for securing the estimated $10 million to
renovate the pool is uncertain, design for the renovation will be
completed this semester, and we are working with SUNY System
Administration and other state officials to identify support as
SUNY’s Capital plan is finalized. As information becomes available we
will share it with the campus community.

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10 years ago

Dave Alexander was an excellent coach who cared about his swimmers. He and the current Stony Brook swimmers and coaches deserve better than this. This program was definitely moving in the right direction.

Chud McGuffin
10 years ago

I love thinking about the sound a Seawolf would make when he howls underwater. Nothing sadder. Or more beautiful.

10 years ago

Coach Dave would be proud of you Allison, keep doing what your doing!

10 years ago

My question is ten million Dollars? Were they fixing the 6 lane pool or putting in a 50 meter? I know the NY standards are high, but this amount seems unreasonable for a retrofit of a pool.

10 years ago

Shouldn’t this have been a story 9 months ago, not after there is little to no hope for this program?

Reply to  Steve
10 years ago

Steve, I’m on the team here at Stony Brook. During our fall 2012-13 semester we were told that there was a possibility funding would show up this spring. Hopefully that answers your question.

Reply to  Steve
10 years ago

Understood. Hopefully as a swimming community we can try to be proactive with programs like Stony Brook and any other program that finds themselves nearing the chopping block because of facility upgrades, growing budgets, ect.

Best of luck to Stony Brook and their revival!

10 years ago

How hard would it be to simply rent out another pool as academics will do? This seems an awful decision by the school at best.

Reply to  DutchWomen
10 years ago

I’m don’t completely understand what you’re trying to say, are you saying that “how hard is it for the school to rent out another pool for us to swim in?” If so then you’re asking 40 students with different schedules to somehow share a 4 hour time slot to travel to another pool, swim for 2 hours, and travel back (take into consideration traffic and changing clothes).This isn’t high school where everyone shares lunchtime together and classes end by 3.

Reply to  Joseph
10 years ago

Joseph, most collegiate teams typically train in two consecutive two hour blocks (combined teams). Most collegiate swimmers schedule their classes around their swimming schedule. The question isn’t outlandish, the question is if there is a pool in the area available to rent.

Reply to  Joseph
10 years ago


“””If so then you’re asking 40 students with different schedules to somehow share a 4 hour time slot to travel to another pool, swim for 2 hours, and travel back (take into consideration traffic and changing clothes).”””

– YES!!!! As CoachErik said…..didn’t they already have that time slot for practice? Why do they have different schedules? All 40 of them? Doesn’t sound like any college program I’ve ever heard of. Did the SA at Stony Brook not train together?

Again…how hard is it to rent out a local pool? Surely the Ward Melville High School pool could be rented? The hours might not be ideal, but TVSC could make some money and Stony Brook could have a… Read more »

Reply to  DutchWomen
9 years ago

Ward Melville has varsity girls, varsity boys, and JV practices nearly the whole school year, TVSC practices (including mornings), and then recreation programs and lifeguard training and swim lessons. TVSC pays the school district to rent the pool, so they wouldn’t make money off SBU. TVSC has more swimmers trying out each year than can be accepted on to the team. TVSC actually uses WMHS, plus a pool in the Port Jefferson School District, and a Town pool in Holtsville. The WMHS pool is basically at capacity.

SBU used to house the North Shore Swim Club (over 200 athletes), which also couldn’t find another pool to rent and dissolved. All of the clubs and pools in the area are prtty… Read more »

Reply to  Sophi
9 years ago

Yes, sad to see north shore dissolve!
I am in the market foe a team like that, where it is also a school. Having the lessons at SBU was very convenient.

10 years ago

GO SEAWOLVES! Sign our petition, please! You understand how large a role swimming has played in our lives, let’s see if we can at least get back the pool for the future students here at stony. Thanks!

John Rambo
Reply to  David
10 years ago


About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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