Thirty years after the Men’s swimming and diving team won its last Ivy League Championship, the Bulldogs are still swimming in the same pool. Though swimming pool technology and demand for pool access have progressed, Yale is still treading water around the question of new swimming facilities.
Swimmer Danny Clarke ’14 said that the current infrastructure made renovating the Kiphuth Exhibition Pool where Yale swims impossible. Kiphuth Exhibition Pool was built in 1932. Under current NCAA and Ivy League standards, the Bulldogs cannot host an Ivy League conference event nor can they host an official NCAA event. Current NCAA and Ivy League guidelines require a minimum of an eight-lane pool, but the Kiphuth Exhibition Pool has just six lanes.
While a new facility would bring more opportunities to the athletic program, men’s swimming and diving head coach Tim Wise said that success starts with what the team already has.
“We are trying to build a championship-style culture within the team that we have and Yale makes that very, very difficult,” Wise said. “The numbers are lower than [competing schools] and so in order to establish that it takes a number of years.”
The men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams are allotted eight recruitment slots, each. According to Wise, building a championship culture is manageable with current facilities. The Bulldogs have much more practice space compared to club and high school organizations and are given precedent over recreational use of the pool, Wise added. At the high school and club level, Wise said that there are often eight or more swimmers to a lane, whereas Yale typically has three swimmers per lane.
“Our facility is fine,” Wise said. “Would a new one be nice? Sure. Everyone wants something brand new and shiny.”
Since discussion began decades ago, multiple plans for facilities have taken shape from renovation to an entirely new facility. After project proponents ruled renovation impossible, however, the Bulldogs’ only remaining option was to fundraise for an entirely new facility.
Changes in technology, and not just the demand for more space, are a driving force behind the swim team’s push for a new pool. Currently only Harvard, Princeton and Brown have pools that qualify them to host Ivy League championships, Ivy coaches are pushing to remove Harvard’s eligibility to host Ivies due to outdated technology.
Swimmers said that there are clear advantages to a new facility, particularly more space for Yale’s many aquatic athletic programs. Swimming, diving and water polo for both men and women have to split pool time, and the pool is also used for daily recreational swimming hours.
“I think the most important thing is that it would allow more training time for all teams,” said Yale Swimming & Diving Association Board member Melanie Ginter ’78. “A lot of students and faculty like to get their laps in and it would allow for more time for everyone in the water.”
New pool or not, the Bulldogs have been working to get back to their winning tradition. In Yale’s illustrious swimming history, the Bulldogs have won four NCAA titles, while no other Ivy has won a national team title. In the past three years, Yale has gone from 2–8 in dual meets in 2010-2011 to 8–2 last season.
The Bulldogs had their first scrimmage of the 2013–2014 season this past weekend at Georgetown and will next scrimmage Southern Connecticut State University at home on Nov. 8.