The Ohio University Aquatic Center: the best and the worst place for a swimmer in Athens

To be completely honest, my favorite place in Athens, Ohio is also my least favorite place. The Ohio University Aquatic Center, commonly known as “OUAC” or “the pool”, is where all my best and worst college experiences have taken place. For those who do not know where the pool is, it is connected Grover and behind Bird Arena. The OUAC is open to all students during the designated open swim times.

The Olympic-sized pool and facility opened in 1984 and remains in good condition despite minimal renovations. There are 22 lanes, which is plenty of space for those who frequent the pool. In the deep-end section of the pool, there are two one-meter diving boards and two three-meter diving boards.

I am a member of the Ohio University Women’s Swimming and Diving team, therefore I spend copious amounts of time at the Ohio University Aquatic Center. Twice a day, every day, I jump into the sometimes icy cold waters and grind out a workout.

The Ohio University Women’s Swimming & Diving team celebrating a victory after a dual meet on 1/21/17.

Most swim practices are a grueling two hours of non-stop laps. We are out of breath and aching at the end of the workout. Some workouts are stamped into my memory for being the worst experience of my life.

My least favorite set would be the semi-annual 25x200s freestyle. In the set, we are supposed to hold the fastest pace we can for the duration of the set. Our coach will record our times and get our average. Our average will be used as a benchmark for other workouts during the season.

Even though I often hate going to the pool, it’s still my favorite place on campus. It is my favorite place because it is “home” to me. Being in the water is like second nature. No matter what chaos is ensuing in my life, the pool remains a constant place to relieve my stresses.

The pool is also where I met all my best friends. If I weren’t on the swim team and at the pool 24/7, I wouldn’t have the relationships I do now. My team is my family and I love the time I get to spend with them.

Carrie Dukes, Katie Lemen, Caroline Raley, and Liz Murphy snap a picture underwater at swim practice.

My favorite college memory thus far took place at the OUAC. It was the first dual meet of 2014, and my first college swim meet. The atmosphere was incredible. I will never forget stepping up on the blocks for my first collegiate race. It was the 200-yard freestyle. My parents were in the stands, and my teammates and coaches were lined up on the edge of the pool cheering me on. It was truly a moment I will never forget.

To most people, the Ohio University Aquatic Center is one of the amenities on campus that they don’t take advantage of. To me, it is much more. My relationship with the pool is defiantly love-hate, but I wouldn’t be the same person without it. I give the OUAC full credit for my success in athletics, fond college memories, and lasting relationships.

Next time you’re in the mood for a good workout, grab your swimsuit and head to the aquatic center.