New pool development still in fundraising stages

Hamilton Pool is pictured on Feb. 16, 2018. Evan Sayles / The Tufts Daily Archives

The Tufts administration is advancing plans to replace the Hamilton Pool with an Olympic-sized pool in hopes of providing the Tufts, Medford and Somerville communities with an updated facility for swimming use. However, the university has not yet finalized a specific timeline and budget since the initial announcement of the project in 2018.

“The [Tufts] student body, the faculty and the staff deserve world-class facilities, and right now, the standard in American swimming, and even in Division III athletics, is an Olympic-size pool. [A new pool] would put us on par with many of our counterpart universities,” Adam Hoyt, head coach of the men’s and women’s swim teams and the director of aquatics programs at Tufts, said.

The creation of a new aquatic center will primarily rely on alumni and other donors who are supportive of health and fitness on campus, according to Eric C. Johnson, senior vice president for university advancement.

Johnson said his team and Tufts Director of Athletics John Morris’ team have been making efforts to cultivate interest in the project, which Tufts’ Brighter World Campaign has identified as a priority in the athletics sector of fundraising. Hoyt also mentioned that University President Anthony Monaco supports the construction.

However, there is not yet a fixed timetable for the completion of either the fundraising or the construction of the facility. Johnson said in an email to the Daily that current estimates say the pool would require $30 million and two years to complete. Also, annual operating expenses have not yet been established, and the estimates are subject to change, according to Johnson.

Likewise, no final location has been determined, but Johnson hopes the new pool would be as close as possible to the Steve Tisch Sports and Fitness Center and Cousens Gym. He underscored the steps needed to take before settling on a location, including a comprehensive discussion with the local community and city officials.

According to Morris, the swim team travels to and rents the pool at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for training every day because of the limiting size of Tufts’ pool.

“A new aquatic center would enable our teams to practice and compete in our home pool, and might permit more student groups to use the pool and more programs to be offered as well,” Morris told the Daily in an email. 

“[The pool] would provide our teams with facilities that are on par with our competitive peers across the country,” Morris wrote. “And it would benefit our recruiting efforts greatly by enabling our coaches to continue attracting incredibly talented students and athletes to Tufts.”

Along with the varsity swimming and diving teams, Tufts has a men’s and women’s club water polo team. There has also been an interest in forming a club swim team, and, according to Hoyt, there have even been talks for other sports teams to do workouts in the pool. Thus, as demand for pool use grows, so too does the need for an upgrade. Yet, size remains an issue.

“We turned down a lot of programming needs of the university based on pool size and pool hours [that are limited solely because] we are under resourced,” Hoyt said.

Beyond members of the Tufts community, the Hamilton Pool’s size also affects neighboring residents who regularly use the facility for practice and recreation.

“If Tufts had a new aquatics center, we could also strengthen our partnership with local communities by greatly increasing the amount of swimming lessons we provide to area youth,” Morris said. “And by hosting a variety of regional and even national competitions, the new aquatics center will also help bring swimmers of all ages and their families onto our campus to showcase everything that Tufts University has to offer.”

Johnson added that a new aquatics center could also open up opportunities to host high school swim meets.

Another driving point for the development of the new pool is the Hamilton Pool’s declining condition.

“Our pool was built in the 1940s and does not meet the current demands of the student body. It also has maintenance issues that will only get more challenging and expensive over time,” Johnson told the Daily in an email.

Hoyt elaborated on these maintenance issues.

“Recently, [Hamilton Pool] was closed for a month for a filter fix. And prior to that, a number of years ago, there were some cracks that needed to be fixed, which forced our team to train elsewhere,” Hoyt said.

However, Hoyt noted that despite the old facilities of Tufts’ current pool, the swimming and diving teams have been incredibly successful. He emphasized how the conditions more so hurt the rest of the community. His vision is to expand access to the pool and its resources.

“I’m optimistic that the future is bright for [this project, but] it’s going to be a team effort,” Hoyt said. “It will take not just the athletics department, but also the entire Tufts community to get this facility built, and I’m really excited. I think Tufts will rise to the occasion.”