BY ETHAN QI
After first beginning construction in the spring of 2020, the Pan Athletic Center is set to open for use this fall, offering a myriad of student athletic opportunities.
Located behind the Borden Memorial Gym, the Pan Center will boast a new pool, wrestling area and dance studios. Such facilities will replace those previously found in Borden, though Borden will still house Andover’s primary gym, basketball and volleyball courts.
“I’m absolutely thrilled to have such an incredible facility available to me for my senior year,” said Theo Randall ’23, co-captain of the Boys’ Swim and Dive team. “Now that we’re nearing the end of construction, I’m realizing how much of an honor it is to be able to have such an incredible state of the art facility to swim and compete in. Thanks go out to all the donors, of course, who made this pool possible.”
The Pan’s pool will replace the historic Borden pool, which was first constructed in 1911 and has seen four Olympians––two gold medalists––and numerous All-Americans. Total funding for the Pan Center cost $25 million, supported by major contributions from Andover alumni parents, Zhang Xin and Pan Shiyi, and two anonymous donors.
Talks surrounding the construction of the Pan Center first began in 2013. Due to the Borden pool’s limited size, practices for JV and Varsity swim teams needed to be held at separate times. Such robust scheduling resulted in conflicts with students’ other academic and extracurricular commitments.
“[The Borden pool] is probably not something that we could easily renovate, nor would we ultimately want to. So there’s just kind of an aged facility issue, and then there’s also a big programming issue,” said David Fox, Head Coach of the Boys Swim and Dive team. “Our indoor facilities forced us to [practice] from three to eight, which then gets into study hours. It conflicts with a lot of music, theater, dance––a lot of important activities. And so we’ve had students have to sort of make choices, and so kids might be part of the orchestra for the fall and then have to step away in the winter, which is not what we want. And so the Pan also allows us to consolidate our program.”
The Borden pool’s dimensions are approximately 75 by 50 feet, holding five lanes at a maximum five-feet depth and just under 200,000 gallons of water. In comparison, the Pan’s pool stands 75 by 128 feet, holding thirteen lanes at a maximum of seven and a half-feet depth and 525,000 gallons of water.
The Pan’s spacious pool will not only allow for larger practices for the swim teams, but also proper play of water polo. During construction of the pool area, safety and health were of top concern.
“We’ve thought really deliberately about the deck,” said Fox. “Pool decks are usually very slippery; we made sure that this had the least slipperiness as possible, all sorts of things like that. So safety, I think, is the biggest thing, and then the size gives us the chance to go from three practice times to two. We’re able to actually play legal water polo for the first time.”
With the construction of the Pan Center replacing numerous facilities in Borden, the future of the Borden Gym as a whole remains unknown. While a new athletics center for the remaining sports residing in Borden is expected in the future, plans regarding construction are not confirmed yet.
In the meantime, students will still be able to enjoy the contemporary facilities of the Pan while still having access to Borden’s active facilities and over century-long history.
“There have been a lot of conversations over the years of what will happen to the current pool area, the current wrestling area, the current dance area, and I don’t know what they’re planning on doing at the moment,” said Fox. “Ultimately, there’s a phase two for Pan where all that programming comes over to a new facility––basketball, volleyball, fitness center––and the only thing that would remain is the actual Borden where they have the gym classes, like the historic space.”
Due to the size restrictions of the Borden pool, Andover’s swim and dive teams primarily competed at away meets. Now, the Pan Center’s more accommodating pool will see Andover hosting more meets at home this season.
Leaving the lauded history of the Borden pool, the transition to the Pan’s pool is both exciting and bittersweet for some. Randall hopes to carry over the legacy of the Borden pool to successful seasons of swimming in the Pan.
“Despite the oldness of it, there was kind of a special feel that came from swimming in it because it’s the same pool that countless All-American swimmers, National Qualifiers, and even a few Olympians all swam in, so to swim in the same waters as them, it felt pretty special,” said Randall. “I’ve come to be pretty familiar with the Borden pool, so in a way, it feels like we’re moving out of our old home.”
While the Pan Center will open up for all members of the Andover community to use––swimmers, dancers, wrestlers, and everyone else––Fox hopes that the investments in the pool will incite new interest in aquatic sports. Ultimately, Fox hopes to eventually be able to open the facility to the broader town community.
“It’s such an investment that certainly I hope it creates more of an aquatics culture on campus where swimming becomes a pretty common form of recreation and exercise that the whole community can do it, be involved with it, and will use it a lot more than the Borden pool,” said Fox. “And then also ultimately, I hope that we’re able to open the facility to people who aren’t members of our Phillips community and just share this resource.”
Students can expect access to the Pan Center’s facilities in September.