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  • Mason Williams, Staff Writer

Swim’s discounted win raises questions about Sparks boiler

A cartoon boiler is frozen over and connected to a frozen thermometer in front of a swimming pool. Art by Carolyn Vazquez

The 2023-24 season has left Bearcat swim with only two conference team wins to look back on as a sweeping victory executed against Pacific University on Jan. 19 was rendered unusable, likely due to insufficient heating. 

Despite the chilling ice storm that froze the Willamette campus over the first week of the semester, the Willamette swim team was able to host Pacific in mid-January. Being on the tail end of the winter storm, transportation for the Pacific University Boxers proved difficult, but possible. However, the decision was made to switch the event to an exhibition meet due to heating complications in the pool.

 “The meet was an exhibition meet because the pool temp was not at the NCAA-mandated temperature,” said Coach Sydney Kanne, “and through discussions between [athletic directors] and coaches of both institutions, it was decided to run the meet as a fun little exhibition.” Kanne explained that an exhibition meet means “that no score is kept but everyone's times are still recorded as valid times.” The men’s team won 130-25 and the women 147-39. Times are not discredited, but the swim team having their wins taken from them is unfortunate given their strong performance.

While the meet was a great success for the swim team, the issue of the pool temperature raises the question of whether the Sparks building’s heating issues have returned. Earlier in the school year, temperatures dropped significantly as construction involving the boiler affected its ability to warm the pool. When construction was finished, the pool was reopened and supposedly returned to normal functionality. 

Given the effects of the winter storm, it’s possible that weather conditions are what led to the pool’s temperature decrease. However, temperatures had already reached highs of 39 degrees by the day of the meet. Lewis and Clark canceled their meet on the same day. 

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