One of the most unique features of the University of Miami’s Coral Gables campus, the lakeside outdoor pool at the Whitten University Center (UC), is currently undergoing renovations that will be complete in October.
For years, the pool has been losing water due to its outdated pipes and gutters. According to Executive Director of the UC Daniel Westbrook, an inspection just over a year ago determined that the cast iron pipes of the pool were extremely corroded. With the need for major work on the pipes and gutters, Westbrook and the administration decided this was a smart time to redo the entire pool.
“You only want to close down once, so we rolled it into one big project … It’s certainly the biggest renovation the pool has ever undergone,” Westbrook said.
The list of changes to the pool area is extensive. In addition to the new pipes and gutters, the entire pool deck will be refinished and the lounging furniture will be replaced. The lining around the pool’s edge will also be replaced with stainless steel and blue plastic casing, and the coping – the lining right at the pool’s edge – will be lower so that it doesn’t need to be stepped over to get into the pool.
Though everyone on campus will be able to enjoy the renovations, some of the upgrades are especially beneficial to UM’s water sport teams. The dive tower’s cement will be repaired and its surface refinished. Starting blocks for the swim team will also be brand new, and the pool will be deeper to increase safety for those diving in the shallowest lanes.
A modern “water disturber” will be installed so that the school’s dive team will be able to see the water’s surface rather than straight through to the pool floor. Previously, divers standing on the dive tower platforms would have trouble seeing the surface of the pool when the water was still, making it difficult to judge the distance of their dives.
There is also an improved heating system with more accurate temperature regulation, as well as a water cooling capability that is entirely new. This is a necessary feature according to Westbrook, since the extreme heat of the summer made swimming laps in the pool difficult. A modern chlorine system is also being installed to eliminate the need for liquid chlorine storage on site.
In addition to the pool and deck renovations, the locker rooms are being slightly redone. All together the pool’s renovation, which will certainly cost more than $1 million, has been a joint effort between Student Affairs and the Athletic Department.
“One of the rare things about our pool is that it is owned by Student Affairs and not athletics,” Westbrook said. “So it has been a partnership between the two departments throughout the process.”
One of the side effects of the pool’s renovation has been the closure of the footbridge that leads from the Eaton parking lot to the UC entrance, forcing students to walk around to the Stanford Circle before they can get into the UC. But according to Westbrook, the footbridge will be opened as soon as the construction company no longer needs that area.
“That has been given the highest priority. We realize how badly students need that back and we promise that will be open as soon as possible.”
Westbrook added that additional improvements could be made depending on their budget and time, but right now the pool should be open some time in October.