Pool opened, water fine, and good time had by all

Excitement high; swimming available on campus for first time since 2008

Photos/Heratch Ekmekjian

Participants in Saturday night's relay races for charity.

Despite the freezing temperatures and the fresh layer of snow outside, hundreds of students donned bathing suits to enjoy a mid-January dip in celebration of the reopening of the newly renovated Joseph M. Linsey Sports Center.

The program opened on the pool deck with speeches from Student Union President Herbie Rosen ’12, Director of Athletics Sheryl Sousa ’90, Assistant Director of Athletics and former swim coach Jim Zotz and Senior Vice President for Students and Enrollment Andrew Flagel.

Then four teams of four students each lined up for a relay race to raise money for charity. The teams included several seniors who had been members of the 2008-2009 varsity swim team, the last people to swim in the pool before the sports center was closed in 2008. Zotz introduced the race – but not before jumping into the pool in his clothes, to wild cheers from the audience.

Ultimately, the team of Elise Allan ’12, Antonio Cancio ’13, Jason Dick ’14 and Rosen swam to victory for the Ronald McDonald House, beating out the teams representing the March of Dimes, Invisible Children and Special Olympics. Consequently, all donations collected at the event will be donated to the Ronald McDonald House.

Rosen, himself a member of the 2008-2009 varsity team, explained his motivation for organizing the race. “I wanted to do something to allow my teammates to have a chance to be the first ones back in the pool,” he said. “It means a lot for us; it’s very personal, and we were so excited to hear that this pool would be coming back.”

Zotz said he is absolutely as excited as he could be.

"As a member of the university community for 34 years, 31 of them were spent in the Linsey Center and on this pool deck, there was a time when I wasn’t sure I was ever going to be back on the deck,” he said.

After the race, the pool officially reopened to the Brandeis community with an open swim. At the same time, the Shapiro Gym next door played host to a party featuring a mechanical bull shark, photo booth and music courtesy of WBRS.

President Fred Lawrence made an appearance at the pool midway through the night to greet students and see the facility in use.

“I think it’s a great night for the community,” he said. “One of the first priorities I had last year when I came in was to get the pool fixed and back up. It’s good every way you look at it, and it’s a great celebration tonight.  It’s exactly what I had hoped,” Lawrence said.

Brandeis had not had a functional pool since 2008 due to a number of mechanical problems. The Saturday night celebration, dubbed “Making Waves,”  marked the facility’s grand reopening, and regular lap swim hours began on Monday.

“In many ways, the reopening of the pool is a symbol of the transition that Brandeis is making,” Flagel said. “You see such an incredible resurgence of energy and vibrancy around the arrival of President Lawrence, and in many ways, the reopening is a brilliant symbol of that.”

The varsity swimming and diving program, as well as physical education and group fitness classes that utilize the pool facility, will resume in fall 2012. The intramural sports program, which is open to all Brandeis students, faculty and staff, will offer an innertube water polo league beginning later this semester.

Categories: Athletics, Student Life

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