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Do Ivy League Champions Deserve a New Pool?

All eyes are on Cornell's mens swim team this year. Last week, the team swam its way to its first regular season championship after a long drought, winning its last dual meet of the season against Columbia. Most impressively, the team beat long-time Ivy League heavyweights Harvard and Princeton earlier in the year. Not surprisingly, Teagle Hall, long only ventured into by students looking to pass their swim test, was packed for the final dual meet of the season.

But even though Cornell's accomplishment's have been impressive in the water, there is one thing that isn't impressive about the swim team: its swimming facilities. The two pools at Teagle , while state of the art when they opened in the 1950s, are looking a little bit lackluster these days.

The recent capital campaign includes a goal to build a new lap pool in an expanded Helen Newman complex, but there are no definite plans to bring the varsity facilities up-to-date. Across campus, however, most other sports teams are enjoying great new facilities. Just check out the Friedman wrestling center -- the only arena built explicitly for wrestling in the country.

In recent email correspondence, Cornell's swimming coach, Joe "Loosh" Lucia, mentioned that he would like to see a "state of the art student activities center that included a 50 Meter Natatorium", not only for the Ivy League champions, but also because "the general student population deserves it."

Indeed, over the past fifteen years, campuses around the country have built beautiful new swimming facilities for their students and teams. Even institutions that don't normally scream "jock culture", like the University of Chicago have built state of the art facilities for their Division III teams. How much does a nice pool affect the ability of Cornell to recruit students? It's hard to say, but as a swimmer in high school who was looking to continue lap-swimming in college, the pool facilities at Cornell left me underwhelmed.

But perhaps more importantly, how does the aging Teagle complex affect Cornell's ability to recruit the future Newman brothers of Ivy League swimming?

Matthew Nagowski | Posted on February 02, 2007 (#)

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