Alumni Gym pool to close for three terms

by Caroline Hansen | 1/29/14 7:32pm

With the Karl Michael Pool in Alumni Gym closing for maintenance this spring, seniors who have not passed the 50-yard swim test required for graduation will face added difficulty, senior associate director of athletics for physical education and recreation Roger Demment said. Maintenance on the pool, the largest in Alumni Gym, is expected to last until the fall.

While Alumni Gym’s smaller Spaulding Pool will remain open in the spring, free swim hours will be reduced as athletes need the pool for training, Demment said.

The Karl Michael Pool will be drained and scaffolding erected while repairs are made to the roof of the building. A problem with the roof was discovered several years ago and repairs made at the time were insufficient, he said.

Students traditionally take the test in the Karl Michael pool because it is deeper and has longer lanes, making it a more convenient venue, Demment said.

Although the majority of students complete their swim test during first-year trips, roughly 300 students pass the swim requirement in their senior year, he said.

Lela McCrea ’14 said she did not take the swim test during Dartmouth Outing Club first-year trips because the rock climbing trip did not require it. She intends to take the swim test by the end of the term or the beginning of next term, in part due to the renovations.

“It’s lighting a fire underneath those of us who need to take it,” McCrea said.

After hearing about the pool’s closing, Olivia Herbert ’14 said she plans to take her swim test in the next two weeks.

Students who do not complete the swim requirement can petition to walk with their class at graduation, but they will not receive their diploma until they pass the test, Demment said. There have been rare cases where seniors have graduated late due to failure to complete the swim test.

Students who fail the swim test can enroll in a beginning swim course and fulfill the graduation requirement after attending 13 out of 16 lessons, Demment said. Other students choose to retake the swim test after attending several individual swimming classes.

Demment said he supports the requirement, as swimming both provides exercise and serves as a potential life-saving skill.

Being able to swim seems an especially relevant skill after the Connecticut River drowning that occurred last June, Herbert said. Ernest Amoh, the brother of a graduating member of the Class of 2013, drowned during River Fest, a senior week event at the Chieftain Inn.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cornell University and Columbia University also require students to pass a swim test in order to graduate.