By Chesney Monroe
Union University is fortunate enough to have a six-lane, 25-meter pool in its main administration building. But there is one problem: hardly anyone uses it.
Rachel Hudspeth, sophomore teaching English as a second language major, said she is a lifeguard at Union’s pool but feels like no ever swims there.
“I don’t know why people don’t use the pool,” Hudspeth says. “It is such great exercise, and you don’t get hot while swimming,” she added.
It is often said swimming exercises the entire body. The truth of this idea really depends on how a person approaches swimming.
Blake Pennington, Wellness Services director, said he believes in all-inclusive workouts, and that if a person swims, he should balance out that form of exercise with other types of cardiovascular exercise.
“Union’s pool has six lap lanes so people could double up and have 12 swimmers at a time in the pool,” Pennington said.
Union’s pool is indoor and located on the west side of the Penick Academic Complex and has glass windows that fill each wall.
The Union Swim Club, which is a private group, plus a few classes and private pool parties on the weekends make the pool temporarily inaccessible to students.
Union’s website states: “The Union Swim Club is not formally affiliated with Union University. This external organization rents space at Union and is led under the direction of Michael LaCour.”
LaCour trained with one of the best coaches in the world, producing Olympic gold medalists and more than 50 junior and senior national champions. He then earned a full athletic scholarship to the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, where he competed in the Sunbelt Conference.
The club is affiliated with USA Swimming. Union is not part of the Southeastern Conference, which includes 14 schools in its division. Eleven of the 13 have swim teams.
The Gulf South Conference, in which Union’s athletic teams participate, does not include swimming as a conference sport; however, clubs associated with USA Swimming are permitted.
Other schools that have swim clubs are not university-official teams and, therefore, cannot grant scholarships to students.
Pennington says awarness is one of the biggest reasons the pool is not used on campus. The pool’s varied hours of operation make it difficult for students to know when the pool is or is not open.
Brittany Banks, junior athletic training major, said she used to swim all the time but had to quit because of an old shoulder injury that started hurting again.
“I swam all through high school and was excited to see that Union had such a nice pool,” Banks said, adding that he swam nearly every day at the pool and even dreamed of someday training enough to try out for the 2016 Olympics.
“I hurt my shoulder a long time ago but never really paid attention to it,” Banks said. “I can’t swim anymore but I love teaching kids about swimming, and I still think it is one of the best forms of exercise.”
Pennington said Union just bought new lane ropes that do not allow waves to cross over from the next lane for the pool and he hopes that will bring in more students.
“We are doing a sprint triathlon that is coming up on April 6,” Pennington said. “It is a swim, bike, run. That is one way we are promoting the pool. It will hopefully give students a new idea on how to exercise and get people in the pool and be excited about it.”