WATERVILLE, Maine — Before Michael Phelps, Katie Ledecky, or any Olympic athlete won medals in the pool, they were kids learning how to swim. A big factor in Olympians' success is the facilities they train at and now, Maine swimmers will be able to use one of the best pools in the country.
“In swimming, the pool is everything," Colby College Athletic Director Mike Wisecup said. “I’m definitely the envy of the other athletic directors that have been doing this for an entire career.”
In his first year at Colby, Wisecup inherited the $200 million Harold Alfond Recreation and Athletic Center that includes a 29,000 square foot Olympic-sized swimming pool.
Wisecup added the new facility and the new pool is a big upgrade for not just Colby.
“But for the entire state. As a high schooler, what you’re trying to do if you want to swim at the Division I level, the Division III level, to try to earn a scholarship, you have to get in the fastest pool possible," he added.
Swimming in the fastest pool possible is something Wisecup knows well as he swam collegiately at the U.S. Naval Academy. He said the Myrtha style swimming pool at Colby is designed to wash away waves when swimmers swim one way down the pool.
When the swimmers make their turn to come back up the lane, the waves will be cleared out which would allow for faster times. The surface of the starting blocks at the pool resembles the same material you would find on an outdoor track.
Removing the wave resistance and giving swimmers a better start by fractions of a second could allow this pool to break world swimming records according to Wisecup.
“And this will be the fastest pool in New England.”
The new Aquatics Center also frees up plenty of elbow room for the other team that will use this space. Douglas Hall is the Colby College Diving coach and said the other benefit of the new facility is having four brand new diving boards.
The new boards will give his student athletes the best opportunity possible to perfect their flips and spins. Hall added folks watching diving events in the Olympics should watch the athletes in their approach.
“The hardest part is having that consistency of your takeoff which makes the rest of it possible," he said. "It’s the hardest stuff in diving to get steady to get right each time.”
Not only will the new pool allow for Colby student-athletes to perfect their crafts but it will also give younger swimmers the chance to swim Olympic length meets from an early age.
“It’s a different practice, it’s a different swimming sense when you’re swimming long course," Jim Willis, the past General Chair of Maine Swimming said. “[The kids are] always amazed at the difference, how long the pool is.”
Willis added the new Olympic-sized pool will make an immediate difference for swimmers in Maine. With a new state-of-the-art facility, more Mainers could be representing our state and their home country in Olympic games to come.