By Emily Harris
Following a successful season for the swim team, Washington College’s swim center has received a $1 million donation on behalf of the Eugene B. Casey Foundation. This is one of the many projects the fund has contributed to—others include the renovation of the Rose O’Neill Literary House, the Casey Academic Center, and the initial construction of the Eugene B. Casey Swim Center.
One major change that will be made to the swim center as a result of the donation will be new locker rooms exclusively for WC’s swim team. WC’s Coach Kim Lessard, Centennial Conference men’s coach of the year, expressed the team’s excitement about the donation and all of the positive changes it will bring.
“It will allow the opposing teams to use the current locker room,” said Lessard. “Currently there are not enough lockers to even host an away team.” There will be 25 new lockers for each team.
“Our locker rooms are extremely small and are crowded with just our team in them, let alone another team,” said sophomore Catelyn McMenamin. “When two teams are in such small spaces it is very crowded…it will be nice to have more room and an area just for our team.“
Lessard pointed out that most teams WC competes against have their own locker room space, and there have been many discussions with students on the swim team about providing the College’s teams with a similar space. As Lessard put it, the new locker rooms will be “home to WC swimming.”
The dream of providing the team with a space of their own has been in the works for some time, Lessard said. “They would be for the swim team, but it then opens up the current locker room space for the campus community so a lot more space for everyone. No one having to stand in line for showers, lockers or bathrooms.”
This addition will benefit not only current student athletes, but also appeal to prospective students interested in joining the Shoremen swim team. “We are so excited and already telling recruits, hoping they will get excited and want to join us,” said Lessard.
A lounge area will be another welcome addition, serving as a space for team meetings and studying between practice and class. “Many days we have 10-15 swimmers at the pool at 7 a.m. to do workout and then waiting to go to class,” said Lessard. “In the winter [on] many of those cold days, they did not want to walk back and forth to the dorms, class and practices, so it allows them not to waste time.”
McMenamin also emphasized that the new space will be an ideal space for the team to spend time alone during meets. “If we need to have a pep talk or need to discuss the current score of the meet, it is a place we can go and be alone,” she said. “The new locker rooms will be a place we can go and talk about the challenges our team is facing without the distractions of other teams.”
Lessard is impressed with the team’s dedication both in and out of the pool. “We are very proud of the swim team academic reputation; this year the men are ranked number 11 in the nation for Division III institutions and women are number 15,” said Lessard. WC’s teams earned these rankings out of 250 other schools competing in Division III, according to a press release on the College’s website.
President Mitchell Reiss is impressed with the team’s performance as well. In a press release he said, “This new gift will reward our scholar-athletes for their hard work in the pool and boost our recruiting. It couldn’t come at a better time, with our swimmers and coaching staff coming off such a strong season.” Reiss also praised the Casey Foundation, and said that they have “transformed” WC’s campus over the years.
The generosity of the Foundation will allow further progress for the team after their competitive and academic success during the 2013-2014 season, and will provide necessary updates to the 30-year-old swim center.