Baylor should invest in swim team

By Brittney Matthews | Contributor

Baylor seems to have endless funding for athletics, yet they have ignored attempts to build an adequate swimming pool or create a swim team, which is a popular sport worldwide.

The SLC pool has three 25-yard lap lanes, a lazy river, a vortex pool and a jacuzzi. There also used to be a 30-foot slide, but it was taken down last year. The expectations for the SLC pool were set high, but building a pool where the lowest depth is 4 feet was disappointing.

Burna Battles was the assistant professor of health and human performance when the SLC pool was built in 1999. In an interview with the Lariat in 1999, she gave her opinion on the new pool.

“Our aquatic facilities are lacking. When we had envisioned the future recreational facility, we had an idea close to what Texas A&M has,” Battles said.

According to the Lariat archives, the aquatic facilities used to be located near the Marina and apparently rested on a landfill before the SLC was built. There were countless concerns over whether or not the old pool would pass the city’s safety code, which created the need to build a new pool in the SLC.

Battles told the Lariat the original plan was to include an Olympic-size swimming pool, but it was shut down after the athletic department rejected the idea of having a competitive swim team.

In response, the Baylor Swim Club was founded four years ago to meet the needs of students looking to swim competitively and continue their passion from high school.

“Baylor’s Swim Club is a place to bring swimmers together to compete, improve and have fun,” Mara Gomen, Baylor Swim Club’s president from last year, said. “For those of us who can’t imagine life entirely out of the water, it’s the perfect club to call home.”

Despite their noble mission, it has been a struggle for the swim club to host practices in the SLC pool. Each year the club has to receive permission for practice times and reservations for the lanes. Even then they can only reserve the lanes for two days each week. In addition, the swim club has almost 60 members and the lanes can only fit so many people before collisions start to happen.

“We struggle at the beginning of each semester with 60 to 80 interested freshmen squeezing into the pool, which I’m sure drives away many otherwise interested swimmers,” Fort Worth senior Zachary Steudel, Baylor Swim Club’s coach, said.

Baylor has shown no movement in adding this sport, and it doesn’t look like they’re intending to any time soon. Baylor has a fantastic reputation for sports among colleges, but it seems to me like they’re not reaching their full potential.

According to Next College Student Athlete, there are roughly 500 swimming colleges across all the major athletic divisions, and Baylor isn’t one of them. Even McLennan Community College has an Olympic-size swimming pool. The only reasoning I can find for this is that maintaining a swim team could be too expensive. However, if funding was a problem, it would have made more sense for Baylor to create a swim team that profits from winning competitions and having people attend swim meets than to build a leisure pool where little to no income is being made.

I propose that we start a change by petitioning for Baylor to build an Olympic-size swimming pool. Baylor is an elite school and we would be even more respected if we had a pool that could actually maintain a swim club or team. If Baylor creates a swim team, we could show every other college that we are truly the best when it comes to athletics. We could have swimmers graduate from Baylor who go on to swim in the Olympics, raising Baylor’s reputation even more.

Brittney is a sophomore journalism major from Frisco.