Tulane swim, dive lacks access to pool while awaiting renovations

Layla Reese, Contributing Reporter

The social pool and natatorium has been dry ever since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic (Arielle Loubier)

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Tulane University’s Campus Recreation announced the closing of the natatorium and social pool in March 2020. According to the Campus Recreation website, the pandemic halted renovations that were underway. 

Consequently, all aquatic sports, including Tulane’s Swim and Dive team, Water Polo and other activities are suspended and do not have a facility to practice in, still awaiting the new renovation. 

Mya Drost-Parra, a member of Tulane’s Division I Women’s Swim and Dive team shared her experience after the closing of the pool. 

Despite the team not having a secure practice facility, Drost-Parra shared that the team finished third in the American Athletic Conference but said she felt “a little bit of disappointment within the athletic department with the expectations that [she] had” when entering Tulane as a freshman at a DI college. 

She expressed excitement to have a “home base” to practice, have swim meets and volunteer with her team on Saturdays teaching swimming lessons to children. 

When asked about what it is like traveling to other facilities for practice and meets, Drost-Parra shared that the extra time the team takes to travel has a heavy impact on “[their] mental health and academic success.” 

According to Drost-Parra, the team travels extra hours out of the week in addition to a 20-hour practice week. 

She said that the athletic department has “financially supported [them]” while they hear the concerns of the team, but she shared that it is a matter of “whether or not they’re going to take action.” 

According to Drost-Parra, the team created a petition with the intention of getting their concerns heard. Although the team is thankful for the athletic department’s financial support, Drost-Parra said that it is a question of “who [the athletic department] is prioritizing.” 

The petition has received over 2,000 signatures, and the team has had a few meetings with the Athletic Director at Tulane to voice their concerns. 

Campus Recreation has yet to share a timeline for the pool’s completion. Although the Reily Recreation Center closed in 2020 due to COVID-19, Tulane University has lifted the indoor mask mandate, and the Reily Center has returned to normal operations. 

Renovations on the natatorium began after an assessment in 2018 by Consilman Hunsaker’s Aquatics for Life. The assessment found that the “Pool finish, bulkhead condition, air quality and pool water treatment systems were all found to be in poor condition.” 

Following this assessment, Counsilman Hunsaker “[provided] maintenance and operational services” in the natatorium which consisted of three phases. 

While the current renovations along with the pandemic take effect on the aquatic programs here at Tulane, the Swim 4 Success organization was also suspended which was devastating to students and volunteers who enjoyed this program. The Swim 4 Success program offered “free swimming lessons to low-income New Orleans youth.” 

Drost-Parra said that it has been difficult for the team to “find other ways to get back to the community” since the closing of the pool. 

This year marks the two years since the pool closed. Natatorium renovations remain in the design phase, as an architect, construction teams and Campus Recreation draft its future. The timeline for the finalization of the renovation is unclear, but updates are anticipated on the Campus Recreation website