Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

A Swimming Team Looking for a Pool; When UNF Closes Its Facility, Not Just Students Affected

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

A Swimming Team Looking for a Pool; When UNF Closes Its Facility, Not Just Students Affected

Article excerpt

Byline: Meredith Rutland

For 10-year-old Cady Dorrian, the buzz within her swim team is whether the team is going to get its own pool.

The North Florida Swimming team practices at the University of North Florida's Andy Sears pool, but the pool will close for good on March 1. Rather than leave its swimmers as fish out of water, North Florida Swimming is planning to build its own private pool.

Cady, who said the team is "a second home," said the UNF pool's spacious lanes were perfect for her team. The organization hopes to build a facility that has all of the high points of the Andy Sears pools, said Mark Watson, president of North Florida Swimming.

The pool, closed to the public on Dec. 14 but still open to university swimming and diving teams and some contracted groups, was frequented by residents training for triathlons, elderly citizens enjoying water aerobics, children learning to swim and individuals practicing for the Special Olympics, Watson said.

Once the pool closes, the team won't have many options for training, he said. City pools are often closed during winter months, and high school facilities are in high demand.

Out of the city's 35 pools, the only one open year-round is the Cecil Aquatics Center, said Pam Roman, a spokeswoman for Jacksonville's Parks and Recreation Department. Thirty-four pools are open from Memorial Day to Labor Day, and most have agreements with swim groups. Two of those will be closed at least part of the summer for repairs.

The UNF pool was "really more of a community pool than a university pool," said Rachel Dorrian, whose daughter Cady has been with the North Florida Swimming team for two years. "There's a need in the community."

The Andy Sears pool, built in 1987, is in need of about $3 million in repairs, but the university can't afford the project, university officials previously told the Times-Union.

This summer, the university said it planned to build a new pool, UNF president John Delaney previously told the Times-Union. The new facility was expected to open around the time the Andy Sears pool closed, and they planned to pay for it by taking out a bond. …

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