Old swimming hole hosts one last win

Sunday, January 23, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 8:59 p.m. CDT, Sunday, July 6, 2008

The ceiling is so low that you can touch it on a particularly high dive.

The air is so humid that inexperienced swimmers sometimes become dehydrated.

Still, Missouri’s men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams will miss their outdated and cramped home pool.

The teams are moving out of the hot and humid Natatorium pool, just north of Stankowski Field, into the new pool in the Student Recreation Center in June. The women’s team competed in its last meet in the Natatorium Saturday, beating Iowa State 188-107.

Seniors Lindsay Palbykin, Mariona Costa, and Becca Dawson won two events apiece for the Tigers (6-2, 2-1 Big 12 Conference).

The Tigers jumped out to an early lead and the Cyclones (3-4, 0-1) never challenged them in a meet that featured a 15-minute delay because an electric timer malfunctioned.

The meet gave both the men and women undefeated home records in their final year competing in the Natatorium.

Built in 1964, the old pool only has six lanes, which causes the team to have split practices each day so that all the swimmers have enough space to work out.

The new facility in the Student Recreation Center will provide the team with a much more attractive and effective place to practice and hold competitions. The new pool will have eight diving boards instead of two, more lanes, and for the divers, dry land equipment. The divers’ equipment includes trampolines and platform surfaces going into mats that help the team train without being in the water.

Although the new facility will provide more space and its appearance will help to lure recruits, it won’t have everything. The teams will miss the pit, a basement room in the Natatorium where the team went before their home meets.

“We would go down there in the basement before the meets and say some cheers and have some pep talks,” said Palbykin, a senior and team captain. “Then we would come upstairs doing this clapping cheer and it just creates this amazing energy.”

The Natatorium has also been host to many memorable meets, including the women’s first win against Kansas, during the 1999-2000 season.

Coach Brian Hoffer, who has coached the team for the past 13 seasons, said the old pool provided a good atmosphere.

“It is a great meet environment,” Hoffer said. “The fans are very close and the teams are right there on the deck around the pool where the action is. I think I’ll miss that energy that this pool provides.”

The Tigers will also lose some of the home advantage they had at the Natatorium.The temperature and humidity in the room affects an opposing team that is not used to that type of heat.The coaches believe the move will take away some of the advantages they enjoy, but the new facility will provide the tools to take the team to the next level.

But that doesn’t mean it will be easy to say goodbye.

“It is sad,” diving coach Jamie Sweeney said. “Every home meet I’ve been in came here. As old and outdated as it was, it provided a place for me to have an amazing college career and also has given me a place for my occupational career. ”

The facility also affects opposing divers because of how close the ceiling is to the board.

“The ceiling is so low that when you jump off the 3-meter board, if you jump as hard as you can, you can touch it,” diving coach Jamie Sweeney said. “Teams will come in and will walk right over by the diving board. They’ll look at the wall, ceiling, and diving board, and just shake their heads. Seeing that gives our divers that much more confidence knowing you are already intimidating these guys you are diving against.”

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