Sink or swim: why Bethel needs a pool

April 8, 2014 | 4 p.m.

Pool would attract potential students, benefit biokinetics department

Opinion | Ellie Wilcox for The Clarion

As I sit here, “Heart of a Champion” pops up on my Spotify, and the words flood my ears. Not only is the song catchy, but the words also evoke many high school swimming memories. I remember peeling myself out of bed at 4 a.m. to go persuade my body to perform in the
pool for two hours and somehow make it through school to then coax myself to do it again that afternoon.

Some of my dearest memories were in a pool, and I find it extremely frustrating that Bethel does not have one. With nearly 100 high school swim teams in the state of Minnesota, you’d think Bethel would like to attract prospective students by offering a pool. As my college search began, I was faced with the choice of deciding to swim or not. Bethel’s academic and community environment are what made the final decision for me, but how much faster would I have decided to come to Bethel if it had a pool? About a year faster, actually.

As a former swimmer, Bethel’s athletics are quite disappointing. I know I am not alone in the struggle between telling myself that I’m fine without swimming and missing it dearly. In fact, I am the president of the swim club at Bethel. Yes, it’s real, and no, we are not swimming
on top of Heritage. Please, no more jokes. The fact that Bethel doesn’t have a pool is no laughing matter.

Keenan Pearson, my partner in starting the club, feels the same struggle that I do. “As I thought more about Bethel, I realized how much I really wanted a strong Christi an base wherever I chose to attend,” Pearson said.

Pearson, the vice president of the swim club, has also had some sleepless nights trying to decide if transferring would be the only option for quenching the thirst for swimming.

“One of the top swimmers whom I learned about at Wheaton had transferred aft er his first year at Bethel because he missed swimming so much,” he said.

I believe this could all be stopped with an aquatic facility on campus.

Not only would a pool be beneficial in attracting prospective students, but it would also benefit existing students and faculty greatly. The water is a place for both competition and healing. A lot of swim club members have joined because of previous injuries that only swimming can relieve. With numerous other sports teams on campus, many students are missing out on the team experience that a Division III school has to offer.

Personally, I would love to grow in my faith through sports and glorify God with my talents in the pool.

Also, with talk of a new fitness center, now is the time to make an investment in Bethel’s future. The pool would also provide employment
for students on campus who possess a pool operator’s license or a lifeguarding certification.

Bethel's need for a pool could also help in furthering academics. The biokinetics department, one of the fastest growing majors, is teaching
future athletic trainers, physical therapists and occupational therapists who may, in their professional careers, be working in the water with their patients. Learning how to treat patients in a pool would be an incredible experience for biokinetics majors. For existing injured athletes at Bethel, the water is a way to recover and build up strength to get back into the sport they love.

There is also talk about the new science labs and buildings. I realize there is money coming in from donors, but why doesn’t Bethel rally
for the $1 million it takes to build a pool? In comparison, the new fitness center would cost $20 million and the science facilities nearly $75 million.

It is about ti me for Bethel to get a pool.

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