Laurier celebrates pool re-opening
On Friday afternoon, the much-maligned Laurier pool held an opening ceremony, officially deeming it back in operation after being closed since early June for renovations. The pool’s future was a topic of great uncertainty last year, as it came close to being permanently shut down when it appeared as though there would be insufficient funds to make the necessary repairs.
Through joint efforts from the cities of Kitchener and Waterloo, the Region of Waterloo (ROW) swim club, the federal and provincial governments and the students of Wilfrid Laurier University, the $4.2 million required was raised and the pool underwent extensive construction that will extend the facility’s life by 15-20 years.
Every speaker who made remarks at the ceremony – which included president of Laurier Max Blouw, Laurier’s director of athletics and recreation Peter Baxter, Kitchener-Waterloo’s Member of Parliament Peter Braid, WLUSU president Laura Sheridan and mayor of Waterloo Brenda Halloran – spoke about how vital the theme of partnership was to the project’s success.
This project really shows the incredible power of partnership,” said Baxter. “You really can’t do something of this magnitude on your own anymore, and to see everything come together the way it did is just terrific to see, not only for the Laurier community, but for the entire community of Kitchener-Waterloo.”
The pool’s re-opening comes as a massive relief to the Laurier swim team, who had relocated their practices to alternative facilities such as the University of Waterloo, Henry Class Pool in Kitchener and the Waterloo Memorial Recreation Complex.
“It was definitely difficult for the team. When you’re swimming at five in the morning, it’s pretty difficult to get down to Kitchener or even to UW,” said Laurier’s head coach Nandi Kormendi, who is also the head coach of ROW. “Being in our home facility will just make everything so much more accessible for our athletes, which is huge because they already have enough on their minds.”
Kormendi also discussed the effect the improved facility will have on the team’s recruiting.
“In the past couple years it’s been difficult to recruit because [former coach Dean Boles] would have to tell potential recruits that he couldn’t promise there would be a swim program,” he said. “Now we have a pool that’s as good as any other university’s going to be offering in Canada. That’s a huge bonus, not just for recruiting, but for personal pride.”