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.

City Council’s plan to Replace Athens Community Pool Remains Uncertain

Athens City Council began discussing an ordinance that would bring a new community pool to the city Athens back in 2014. At a meeting Monday, February 8,  one thing has become clear: the waters are uneasy and tensions have risen between members of council about what the best course of action is.  City Council is no closer to a decision today then they were two years ago. It’s time to calm the waters of the  community pool issue and make a decision. Any decision.

Ordinance 0-02-16 was introduced by First Ward Representative Kent Butler, authorizing engineering services for an outdoor municipal swimming pool. The ordinance also allows Athens City Auditor, Kathy Hecht, to borrow a $500,000 bond to do so. No decision was reached Monday.

City Building Athens, Ohio
City Building located in Athens, Ohio.

Council knows they want a new pool for the community, but they don’t know much else at this juncture.

Right now, the project cost remains uncertain, the most basic elements of this project (indoor or outdoor) remain undecided, and the mayor is “praying” that the pool will open by next summer. I think it is safe to say the notion that the new pool with be open and fully functional by summer 2017 is laughable and nothing short of a pipe dream.

With this in mind, I have just one request for City Council , a request for progress. Make decisions, stick to them, and move forward with what will inevitably be a very time consuming, arduous process. Give the people of Athens a new pool, a pool without leaks and rusted pipe pieces.

The biggest doubter of the project is Third Ward Representative Michele Papai, who commented,

“I have to tell you, my confidence in the process has waned over the past year. When I see outdoor pool I wish it would say outdoor aquatic center,” Papai said. “It really doesn’t include a lot of what our community asked for. The bottom line is the fairness to the voters. It’s difficult for me to back this ordinance. The wording of this ordinance isn’t specific enough. I think we put the cart before the horse.”

Both Representative Patrick McGhee and Fourth Ward Representative Christine Fahl echoed the remarks of Papai.

McGhee said, “I see no reason to rush this, I completely agree with everything Councilwoman Papai has said.

Similarly, Councilwoman Fahl said, “I don’t have a lot of confidence. I think the planning process that’s been presented to the public has been very confusing. The plan is too amorphous. The planning committee hasn’t served us well, maybe we haven’t asked enough questions.”

Athens Mayor Steve Patterson was equally concerned about the project due to the varying financial implication of the decision to construct an outdoor pool versus an indoor pool. Specifically, the financial burden of an indoor pool likely requiring paying employees year-round as opposed to paying employees seasonal wages as is customary with an outdoor swimming pool.

For Patterson, action, whatever it may be, should be taken quickly as the current pool is rapidly draining money. The cost to repair the current pool to keep it open just one more year is at least $150,000.

“We’ve been holding back on the citizenry for something that they’re already paying taxes for,” Patterson said.

Multiple Athens residents also spoke at the meeting, voicing the concern that there is no real plan in place. They are growing increasingly frustrated by the lack of transparency on the part of City Council, saying that the numbers for the project just do not add up. They asked the council to come up with a plan and disclose it to the public where they can provide their input.

Many councilmembers mentioned the importance of planning. They said that multi-million dollar projects like this one, which is expected to cost “around” seven million dollars, needs a well thought out plan and a significant amount of time. Unfortunately, they don’t seem to have much of a plan, they are running out of time, and the project is surrounded by uncertainty. And sadly, if you missed the meeting you will be hard-pressed to find coverage. The Athens City Council Twitter (@CityofAthensOH)  provided sparse coverage. On the bright side, Ohio University’s WOUB has you covered with all the up-to-date coverage.

As a student at Ohio University, and a temporary resident of Athens, the utter confusion and disheveled nature of this pool project is concerning. What is even more concerning though is how little progress has been made week after week, confusion still persists.

At the January 19 meeting Ken Butler said, “This is solely for an outdoor pool, which may be controversial for some,” said Councilman Kent Butler, who presented the ordinance.

Similarly, on the 19th, Councilwoman Jennifer Cochran said, “The public has been led to believe that all options were on the table and now we’re essentially saying “no, this is only for an outdoor pool.”

Athens Mayor Steve Patterson was quoted at the January 19 meeting having said, “I’m pretty firm, personally, about moving this forward, getting things going,” Patterson said. “We’ve got an aging, failing pool…and I’m praying we can keep it going and be open in the summer, I really am.”

As a resident of Athens who will probably never even swim in the multi-million dollar facility I would just like to see some concrete decisions made. What I mean by that is: I don’t care if the pool is indoor or outdoor, I just want a decision to be made and stuck with. The reality is that there will be supporters and opponents regardless of what type of pool is created. You cannot please everyone no matter how hard you try.

The best bars to shoot pool on Court Street

If your billiards skills are on par with those of Tom Cruise a la The Color of Money, then you probably won’t be caught dead in the small-time venues that Court Street has to offer.  For the rest of us, Court Street is more than accommodating for some casual billiards.  No matter your skill level, the uptown bars provide a great atmosphere to shoot pool with friends.  The entries aren’t ranked in any particular order as they all have their pros and cons, but they all qualify as the best places to shoot pool on Court Street.

Lucky’s

Lucky’s is a prime venue to shoot pool uptown.  With relatively new tables and equipment, Lucky’s Tavern offers a relaxed atmosphere for pool players.  With two tables, it’s easy to find one available in the evening.  The tables themselves are also unique due to their red felt, and the lighting is a lot brighter than most of the other bars uptown.  Just a word of warning: it is nearly impossible to play at Lucky’s on Wednesday nights among the throngs of thirsty patrons that the weekly “liquor pitcher” promotion draws.

The C.I.

Zach poses at CI
Ohio University senior Zach Moneypenny poses by the pool table at the C.I.

The College Inn is one of the largest and most popular bars uptown.  These reasons are precisely why the C.I. is a great place to play pool.  The spacious bar features two tables upstairs and another in the basement (only open on weekends).  The C.I. is great for those hoping to avoid the crowds and sneak in a few games on a weeknight.  Prior to Thursday night on most weeks, the C.I. is usually pretty barren before 9 p.m.  When the bar is not crowded, the pool area at the rear of the building offers patrons plenty of room and relative privacy.

The Pigskin

Usually known as a destination for ping pong, the Pigskin is also a great destination for a round of pool.  With a cavernous amount of space to work with, the Pigskin’s lone pool table offers tremendous maneuverability for those looking to escape the semi-cramped conditions that can be found at other bars.  As an added bonus, the Pigskin’s table features some of the nicest felting to be found in Athens.  Due to these luxuries however, the ‘Skin’s table is a coveted treasure for pool enthusiasts and can be hard to secure during peak hours.

David lines up a shot at Pawpurr's
Ohio University grad David York lines up his cue at Pawpurr’s.

Pawpurr’s

Pawpurr’s offers two tables with plenty of space to maneuver your cue stick.  With a table at each end of the bar, there is always plenty of space.  That is one of the reasons David York cited for Pawpurr’s being his favorite bar to shoot pool in Athens.

“Pawpurr’s is my favorite bar to play pool.  It’s actually just my favorite bar in general.  It’s really the only bar I like to play pool at,” says York, a recent OU grad.

Sticking true to the name, a round of pool at Pawpurr’s costs less than most other bars.  While the going rate is usually seventy-five cents at most other places, a game only costs two quarters at Pawpurr’s.

The Overhang

Rounding out the list is The Overhang, one of the newer and nicer bars on Court Street.  The Overhang boasts a tandem of new and well-maintained tables for its patrons.  Also, the pool tables have a clear view of the big screen televisions behind the bar, perfect for those wishing to catch a game while enjoying a few rounds of pool.  For those accustomed to the convention of placing a quarter on the table to reserve the next game, be warned.  The Overhang utilizes a chalkboard where patrons add their names to a queue to secure a spot on the table.

While this is by no means a comprehensive list of bars with pool tables uptown, it can be seen as a guide to finding the best spot to shoot a few casual games.  Armed with this knowledge, go forth and tread water in a sea swimming with pool sharks.