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Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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Crime log: Subject barred after shoplifting at bookstore
By Max Porter, Contributing News Editor • February 26, 2024

Column: Don’t leave water sports athletes out to dry

If concrete fills Foggy Bottom’s sole competition pool, athletes will be like fish out of water.

Updated: Oct. 17, 2023, at 10:55 a.m.

As a fresh athletics recruitment process begins, swim, dive and water polo recruits will be perplexed when they find a slab of concrete at the Smith Center instead of a pool. It’s a “fish out of water” problem as GW’s aquatic teams are in danger of being pushed off campus with the planned removal of Foggy Bottom’s sole competition pool. 

Director of Athletics Tonya Vogel and Assistant Vice President of Construction Management Adam Aaronson proposed the renovation of the Smith Center last month to Advisory Neighborhood Commission officials who represent Foggy Bottom. Their presentation included plans to fill the competition pool in order to fit another basketball court in its place. While the proposal highlights advantages for the men’s and women’s basketball teams, they barely touch on the renovations’ ramifications for the aquatic teams.

Throughout the meeting, Vogel and Aaronson failed to show equal importance to their athletes. When referring to the new practice court for the basketball team, Vogel strongly emphasized that a practice facility within one’s campus is now standard at the Division 1 level. Last time I checked, the swim and dive team was still in Division 1.

It’s not like GW aquatic teams do not excel in their sport. Just last year, the men’s swimming and diving team was crowned Atlantic 10 Champions for the third consecutive season. While teams like basketball may bring in more revenue for the school, it is no excuse to treat other athletics teams unfairly.

With the location for the aquatic team’s future practice facilities still undetermined, these students could be traveling anywhere from the Mount Vernon Campus to another venue outside the District. For all they know, GW could simply plan on pushing them into the Potomac River and shouting, “Swim!” Regardless, longer commute times minimize the availability of the athletes’ schedules for selecting classes and negatively affect both academics and athletics.

Unlike most sports teams, the swim team has “secondaries,” or more than one practice in the pool per day. With the demolition of their only on-campus pool, the team will have to travel not once, but twice per day to an external site.

For current members of the aquatic teams, GW is not holding up their side of the bargain. The removal of a pool on campus likely surprised most water sport athletes, who are now losing the bare minimum requirements for a collegiate-level team. Without basic facilities, the University is aiding potential athletes in choosing not to attend GW.

While sports like tennis, lacrosse, baseball and soccer practice solely on the Mount Vernon Campus, this was well known before they committed to GW. The aquatic teams did not have this luxury and committed under the expectation that they would be practicing on campus. 

There’s a type of team spirit and unity that only occurs on a campus. Removing the aquatic teams from GW’s Foggy Bottom campus removes both this spirit and the feeling of affiliation with the school. As a result, there will no longer be any home-field advantage for the team. 

GW’s habits will not be sustainable in the long run for creating an equal share of opportunities for student athletes. Before the University decides that the basketball team needs to take over the Vern too, let’s make sure that the aquatic teams have somewhere to swim. 

Madie Turley, a freshman majoring in international affairs, is an opinions writer.

This post was updated to correct the following:
The Hatchet incorrectly spelled the name of Tanya Vogel. We regret this error.

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