Team leaves arena due to renovations

The renovations on the Smith Center pool were supposed to begin after the spring sports season had ended. But things don’t always go as planned.

Mechanical failures caused by the massive construction work on other parts of the arena forced the women’s water polo team out of the pool last week. To complicate matters, the Southern Division Championships loomed at the end of the week.

“Well, besides the noise we had some standard construction problems. We had the pool up until last week, but with all the construction going on, the electricity to the pump rooms was shut off,” head coach Scott Reed said. “And you have to have the pumps running to get the water moving and properly filtered.”

But a broken-down pool isn’t the first hurdle the team has had to overcome this season that was caused by the University’s $25 million overhaul of the tired sports complex.

Work on the locker rooms meant that the athletes had to show up at the pool with their swimsuits on under their clothes. Once practice was over, they had to use the upstairs bathrooms to change. Loud construction noises permeated early afternoon practices.

For the women’s water polo team, that meant finding a body of water to practice in. So they headed over to the Georgetown Law School, which hosts a pool in its four-story fitness center. GW arranged for two vans to transport the Colonials to the Capitol Hill location.

“It’s something we weren’t used to, by any means, but it’s a pretty easy commute,” Reed said.

The practice paid off. The Colonials defeated Bucknell for the first time this year in an overtime consolation game to take third place at the Southern Division Championships.

Jason Wilson, assistant director of athletics for facilities, said the construction project is taking place in a series of phases because the Smith Center cannot completely close down for an extended period of time. The current phase, the second of three, is scheduled to be completed by the beginning of the school year. The third phase will begin in March 2010.

“All teams and constituencies have been impacted by phase one and two. These phases required the relocation of our sports medicine/athletic training spaces, the free weight room and fitness center which directly impact each team,” Wilson said in an e-mail. “However, the project team has worked closely with the Athletic Department to accommodate each group the best possible way and to limit any temporary inconveniences.”

Despite the annoyances, Reed said he is glad the Smith Center pool is undergoing renovations.

“I’m very excited for it, it’s going to be a very nice pool,” Reed said. “There’s really not much that has been done to it since it was first built.”

When the pool reopens it will be regulation size and will feature a new deck, gutter system, air ventilation system, lighting, stands and locker rooms.

“We’re a week ahead of the construction schedule. So it has its pluses and minuses. Definitely, we would have much rather stayed in the pool but on the plus side of things, the pool will now be ready for the men’s season in August,” Reed said.

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