UCSB is in the early planning stages of constructing a new pool facility that better adheres to the water-depth rules mandated for the university’s water polo teams.
Marc Fisher, associate vice chancellor of facilities management, said a committee of administrative, athletic and student representatives is currently looking for a place to put a new pool facility, possibly in the area next to the Recreation Center, between Ocean and Los Carneros roads. The facility would include bleachers, separate team locker rooms and a pool that would fulfill the required depth of two meters for water polo play.
The shallow end Campus Pool, where the men’s team played last fall, located behind the Women’s Center and next to the bus loop, is about one half meter shallower than the two-meter legal requirement for playing water polo, said Joe O’Brien, former men’s water polo head coach. Players on the men’s water polo team range from 5’9″ to 6’6″ in height, which can result in an unfair advantage for taller players who can easily touch the floor, O’Brien said.
“Some teams come in and can stand two feet out of the water,” said O’Brien. “When you have this assist from the [shallow end of the pool], you’re not forced to hold yourself up.”
O’Brien said potential water polo recruits might forego playing at UCSB for another university that offers them a facility of legal size.
“We’re competing against schools who have legal pools, and we’re one of the best schools in the country,” said O’Brien. “So we’re trying to recruit some of the best athletes in the country.”
Fisher said the estimated cost of the new pool facility ranges between $5 million and $7 million, and the committee is expected to make a final decision on its location by June, he said.
Following the committee’s decision, the proposed facility would need to be approved by campus administration and the campus planning committee, Fisher said. Students would then vote in on whether to pay for the new pool with a lock-in fee. This vote could come as early as spring 2006, and the facility could be completed by the spring of 2009 if the lock-in is immediately approved.
Campus Pool would be taken out upon completion of the new facility because of its inconvenient location next to academic buildings, Fisher said. The noise from blown whistles, yelling coaches and screaming players is annoying to those working in the adjacent Humanities and Social Sciences Building, he said.
The new pool would be open to both students and intercollegiate athletes, but athletes would receive priority use, Fisher said.
“The balance would be more [toward] intercollegiate athletic sports, but I think [the new pool] would have some time available for non-team sports,” Fisher said.
Up until fall 2003, the men’s team used the Rec Cen pool for practices and some games because it meets the legal water polo pool dimensions, said Andrew Schoneberger, former men’s water polo team captain. He said the team returned to playing solely in Campus Pool because moving equipment between the two locations was too stressful and the Rec Cen gave the team access to the pool during inconvenient hours.
The Rec Cen’s charter also states that it is a student facility primarily intended for open recreation for undergraduate and graduate students. In order to avoid a monopolization of the center by any sports group, groups can only reserve its facilities on a one-time basis, said Frank Stevens, the Rec Cen Governance Board alumni representative.
“We have a policy that any requests that come to us are one-time requests only,” said Stevens. “We have not been exclusive, but we’ve been very careful not to violate the students’ trust.”
The women’s water polo team, however, currently uses both the Rec Cen pool and Campus Pool for practices, but mostly plays games in the latter, said Danielle Altman, women’s water polo head coach.