Words by ’Birds: Ode to the old Aquatic Center

There is no tiptoeing around it — the old pool was full of problems.

Erin Stamp is a graduating fifth year UBC student and a Thunderbird. She and the rest of the swim team dominated at the U Sports national championships in February. She swam in both the old and new pools.

The first time I saw the old Aquatic Center was in 2011 on my recruiting trip. I was in my grade 12 year when I flew out west for a week to check out what being a Thunderbird was all about.

One of the girls on the team took me on a campus tour when I arrived and showed me the old Aquatic Center, supposedly shaped like a T-bird. (Seriously, did anyone see how it was shaped like a T-Bird?). It was dark, it was damp, but it was home to the most decorated varsity swim program in the country and had a national training centre. I knew I wanted to a part of this team.

Everyone has his or her own story of the old Aquatic Centre. They used to skinny dip in the outdoor pool at the end of the annual underwear run, dropped in for the free weight room or took a nap in the stands between class. Mine are full of the gruelling workouts, mechanical problems and the interesting people I have seen over my five years.

Olamide Olaniyan

There is no tiptoeing around it — the old pool was full of problems. The ceiling was constantly leaking, the showers were the extreme of hot or cold and you were lucky if you didn’t develop asthma. The fire alarm would go off for no rhyme or reason, the weight room was full of rust and you learned not to walk along the gutter for fear of falling through.

One of the most disgusting things about the old pool was the rats. About three years ago someone on the team noticed a few animal droppings on the bleachers under the scoreboard. One brave soul on the team pulled the bleachers out to find them covered in animal droppings and a huge rat came running out from underneath. His name was Templeton and it wasn’t uncommon to see him or his relatives around the Aquatic Centre. Another story that will live forever was the naked man jumping off the stands into the deep end at 5:30 in the morning.

The Aquatic Centre wasn’t just used for swimming though. I don’t really understand why but the stands became the place to nap and a popular place to get it on (winky face). I can guarantee those carpets are dirtier than the ones in Fairview.

Colin Chia

In case people didn’t know, the swimmers used those bleachers to run about in bare feet and drip sweat. The student body drooled on them during their power naps and who knows what else was on them. In my five years, I had never seen them washed. Just saying.

Moving to the new Aquatic Centre is so much sweeter because of the difficulties we dealt with. While the varsity team is still a little salty about not having our own locker rooms, we love being able to actually see and breathe inside the pool. We appreciate the massive hot tub (that is actually open), the steam room and the beautiful competition pool.

I think I can speak for the entire team when I say thank you to everyone that contributed to making the new Aquatic Centre happen. While I was only able to experience it for the last few months of my varsity career, I know I will be enjoying the lazy river and hot tub for years to come!