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The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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Thousands sign petition to preserve Smith Center pool

Photo Illustration by Jordyn Bailer | Assistant Photo Editor

A petition demanding officials halt plans to demolish the swim and dive facilities if they cannot secure a “suitable alternative” has gained more than 2,000 signatures.

Junior swimmer Julia Knox penned a petition Wednesday calling on officials to treat the swim teams “fairly” and preserve the Smith Center pool, which is set to be replaced with a new basketball court and exercise facilities for the men’s and women’s basketball teams around Labor Day. The petition will be shared with officials on Tuesday, organizers said. 

“Our program is being dismantled for the benefit of teams that have not demonstrated similar levels of success academically or athletically,” the petition states. “This is not just unfair; it’s heartbreaking for us who have dedicated so much time and effort into making this team what it is today. It’s crucial that we find a balance between preserving athletic programs like ours while also ensuring other teams’ needs are met.”

The Department of Athletics did not immediately return a request for comment.

GW has been in talks with varying offsite venues for the past year but has not yet signed a contract, Athletics Director Tanya Vogel said at an Advisory Neighborhood Commission meeting last week. She said at the meeting that they are close to finalizing a contract with a venue less than 15 miles away.

In the petition, Knox said the Department of Athletics has not yet provided alternative locations for the team’s practices and home meets. 

Both the men’s and women’s swim and dive teams have earned three straight Atlantic 10 Championship victories. In late February’s championship, the teams combined to set 17 new conference records. The men’s basketball team finished this season last in the Atlantic 10, while the women’s team finished 11th.

Knox, who is originally from Northern Ireland, participated in the 2023 NCAA Championships, becoming the first GW woman to compete at the NCAA Championships since 1995. 

Knox said the petition stems from a desire to protect swim and dive facilities while also supporting her teammates.

“My teammates and I are overwhelmed with gratitude for the outpouring support the petition has received,” Knox said in a message. “I felt compelled to share this for the family and team that I care so deeply about. Thank you to everyone who is continuing to support us.”

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