Aquatics-Based Fun and Fitness at Rollins College & Duke University

Fox Day at Rollins College (Winter Park, Florida) is an annual tradition dating back to 1956. For a single day each spring, on a day deemed “too pretty to have class,” a fox statue is placed on Mills lawn (the school’s main lawn). The statue signifies that all undergraduates get a surprise day off to explore local beaches and amusement parks.

The event concludes as students return to campus in the late afternoon for a barbeque. One can imagine the popularity of the tradition with students, many of whom use the free day to explore nearby Disney World in Orlando, or to enjoy the white sands and deep blue waters of Cocoa Beach, located about an hour from campus.

But for students who pine for sun and cool waters, the reality is that Rollins College already offers them a world-class outlet in the form of the Alfond Swimming Pool. Not only is it home to the Rollins varsity men’s and women’s swimming teams, but on sunny days, it serves as a popular, on-campus leisure destination for students, faculty, and staff.

The Alfond Swimming Pool is an ideal to which other private universities and colleges may aspire, both in regard to the aquatics-based technology applied to it, and also to the naturalist aesthetics of its design.

Combining Modern Technology with Natural Beauty

Rollins is a small liberal arts college of approximately 3,000 students, and yet the Alfond Swimming Pool is a testament to the swimming culture that has been honed on campus over the past several decades.

Due in large part to a generous donation from Harold Alfond, the pool has it all: a 25-yard, 9-lane pool that is heated for winter use and cooled otherwise; diving platforms; modern locker rooms; and an LED video scoreboard. There are also two 3-meter and two 1-meter diving boards with fulcrums, in addition to a timing system which assures that every second is recorded with reliable accuracy—a must-have for any timed swimming competition.

The facility itself is bordered by palms trees and other greenery, and it overlooks Lake Virginia, where students enjoy water skiing, sailing, rowing, and other marina activities. It is a gorgeous, postcard-worthy combination of modern design and natural beauty, and it is undoubtedly a selling point for prospective students. From the right vantage point, in fact, the aqua blue of the pool appears almost to spill directly into the blue of the lake beneath, as if both are connected by an impossible feat of wizardry.

The original 1973 design of the Alfond Swimming Pool included 450 permanent bleacher seats, but in a move that has since proven instrumental to enhancing the beauty of the facility, the bleachers were removed in 1997, thereby creating an unhindered view of the lake.

Sharing Facilities and Serving the Community at Rollins College

While the students, faculty, and staff of Rollins College have access to the facility, it is shared with the Winter Park community, as well.

For years, the Blue Dolphins swimming team of the Winter Park High School have used the pool for training needs. This reflects Rollins College’s strategy of serving the broader community, for it provides top-level facilities to emergent student-athletes, hopefully inspiring them to continue working to achieve their dreams.

Duke University’s Top-Level Competition Pool

At Duke University, students, faculty, staff, and the larger Durham (North Carolina) community can enjoy a seasonal outdoor pool as well as two indoor pools. Each facility is beautiful and impressive in its own right, but taken together, they reflect Duke’s enthusiastic commitment to promoting aquatics-based fun and fitness.

Located indoors on the west side of campus is the Taishoff Aquatics Pavilion, which serves as the home for the Duke University swimming and diving teams. The facility has hosted several major meets, including the AIAW Women’s National Swimming Championships, the National Junior Olympic Swimming Championships, the NCAA Diving Regionals, the Atlantic Coast Conference Championships, the New South Collegiate Invitational, as well as numerous state championships.

Indeed, such is possible because the Taishoff Aquatics Pavilion boasts a 25-yard, 8-lane competition pool with 7-foot lanes and a depth tapering from 4.5 at each end to 7 feet in the center. Other features include custom built stainless starting blocks, ample spectator seating, and an electronic timing system that is used for all collegiate meets.

The facility also includes one of the few indoor 10-meter towers in the Southeast, in addition to 5 and 7-meter platforms. Moreover, it offers two 1-meter and two 3-meter springboards, each equipped with maxiflex boards. The separate diving is enormous, measuring 66 feet by 42 feet, with a depth of 17 feet. The facility is ideal for student-athletes who are refining their skills during practice, where they can then enjoy the benefits of their hard work during competitive events.

Serving Different Groups with Prolific Aquatics Facilities

Duke University’s second indoor pool is located on the east side of its campus at the Brodie Center, which houses the Brodie Aquatics Center. The facility hosts a variety of community-based aquatics programs, those such as Learn-to-Swim, the American Red Cross Lifeguard program, weekly Kayak Clinics, Stand Up Paddleboard programming, recreational lap swim, and weekly Special Olympics practice.

Its design is particularly suited for each program, as the pool itself includes an intimate 4-lane, 25-yard swimming area, and is 3.5 feet shallow to 8 feet deep. The Brodie Aquatics Center also offers locker room facilities and on-site fitness equipment for member use. The facility on Duke’s Central Campus offers a 6-lane outdoor pool and leisure swim area, patio seating, as well as tables and lounge chairs. It is designed as a recreational pool where users can casually swim laps or simply float along and enjoy the cool water.

It is used by students for the Spring and Fall semesters as an ideal setting for relaxation and fun; during the summer months, it is then adopted by Duke faculty and staff, who often bring their families along. Whether it is the student-athlete whose goal is to maximize his or her potential, a student in need of a reprieve from study, or a family celebrating a child’s birthday party, the variety of aquatics facilities at Duke University serve the needs of the community, thereby promoting both fitness and fun.

About the Author
David Vinson, PUPN staff writer, has a PhD in English with specializations in transatlantic literature and cultural studies. He is a committed scholar, teacher, husband, and dad. If you ever meet David, avoid the subject of soccer. His fandom borders on the truly obnoxious.