TC Aquatic Center Reopens with a Splash
Published in TC Community
The venerable Teachers College Aquatic Center, one of the oldest functioning indoor pools in the country, reopened to the public on June 8 after undergoing nearly $1 million in maintenance and repairs.
The pool, which was built in 1904 as part of the Frederick Ferris Thompson Memorial Building, billed at the time as the nation’s largest gymnasium for women, has long been one of TC's hidden treasures, a favorite of students, faculty and staff, as well as local families.
“The Aquatic Center is truly a valued part of the College and such a wonderful resource for the surrounding community,” President Susan Fuhrman said. “We're committed to ensuring its continued use well into the future, which is why we embarked on the improvements to the facility. I'm pleased that we’re able to open the pool on schedule and in time for summer.”
Closed since late August, the pool has undergone an array of repairs and improvements, including the replacement of drains and plaster throughout the facility and extensive cement work to some of the walls damaged by leaks over the years. The roof has also undergone some repairs and the pool's deck has been completely refinished with an epoxy surface coating.
Modern mechanical equipment has also been installed to increase the pool's efficiency, and the facility has been repainted. The College is also looking into installing a solar-powered pool heating system.
What has not changed is the Aquatic Center's historic look and feel. “We did not disturb the aesthetics of the pool,” said Vince Del Bagno, TC's Director of Capital Projects. "The pool still has a very European, old-world look to it. It looks like a photograph or poster from an old Euro gymnasium with the exposed steel, high ceiling, reflective lighting and surrounding handrails on the walls. Essentially, the aesthetics have been maintained and enhanced."
TC's pool has a storied past, used by generations of local families—its regular patrons have included a British knight and the late comedian George Carlin, who grew up around the corner. It was built in the stylized European version of Roman baths popular at the turn of the 19th century with a balcony above some cabanas and a large, ornate skylight. One end of the pool features a bronze Columbia lion's head (which pours water into the pool) that is original to the structure.
There are tentative plans for a broader community event later in the summer to celebrate the renovated facility, and all summer camps and other group activities will have access to the pool throughout the coming months as in years past.
"I hope people at TC and in the community will see that all the work was well worth it because the pool looks wonderful" said Maria Hataier, Director of Student Activities and Programs, whose office operates the pool. "I think the community is going to love it. We've had people coming here for years: Their kids used the pool, their grandkids are now coming here, and they all have great stories, and with all the improvements it’s a new beginning for the Aquatic Center."
Membership in the Aquatic Center is on a semester-long basis and includes family affiliate, individual, student, alumni and faculty rates. Because of the pool's small size—it is 20 yards long and ranges from 3 feet to 6 feet deep—membership is limited. The pool offers times for adult lap swimming and family swimming for parents and their children. The center also offers swimming lessons for youngsters and adults, and it can be rented for parties.
Pool hours and fee schedules are available online at the Aquatic Center page of the TC Student Activities and Programs Web site (http://www.tc.edu/studentactivities)