Although this school year has just started, big changes set for next year are already being planned, including renovations to Sheerr Pool at Pottruck Health and Fitness Center.
The renovations were announced this past summer on July 10 via email to all Penn students and an announcement on the Penn Campus Recreation website. The construction will close the pool for the entirety of the 2024–25 school year.
“We thought it was time for some updating and improvements, including with the bulkhead, lighting, and gutters of the facility," Associate Athletic Director of Facilities Noah Gustkey said. "Some of these things have been having maintenance issues over the last several years.”
The renovations will start around early July 2024 and are planned to continue through June 2025, notably closing Sheerr Pool — home to Penn men’s and women’s swimming and diving — during the team's season in the winter.
Unlike other universities that have two pools, with one primarily for their varsity teams and the other for recreational swim — essentially serving a backup pool when long-term renovations take place — Penn only has one pool for all of the school's aquatic programs.
“We have plans to relocate the varsity teams for training in Drexel, but it can't accommodate all of their needs. We also have plans to take care of some training in the West Philly YMCA.” Gustkey said.
Notably, Drexel also only has one pool for its varsity and recreational aquatic programs. The relocation would create two sets of varsity aquatics teams looking for similar practice times, underlining the Penn men’s and women’s swimming and diving need for two practice sites.
As for club aquatics programs, the arrangements are still being drawn up. “The plan is to have agreements in place where the club teams will be able to practice, which will be communicated to the club teams hopefully later on this this year.” Associate Director of Facility Operations Colin Wells said.
As for members of the Penn community who utilize Sheerr Pool recreationally and are not affiliated with any club or varsity team, the original announcement of the renovations encourages those to contact Drexel Recreation for pool membership information.
However, some students are hesitant on how alternatives will be coordinated and whether it is worth the trek to Drexel for a dip in the pool.
“I started using the pool last semester as something fun to do, but I don’t like the pressure of regular practice or the inability to decide if I want to go or not," College sophomore Jacob Krassin, who uses the pool for recreational lap swimming, said. "Will we share with Drexel? Are we going to be able to walk in whenever we can or want like Pottruck? Depending on how far the alternative is, I might not be able to go.”
The renovations are currently in the early design phases, but there is confidence that the upgrades will be worth the year-long closure and alternative arrangements for many members of the Penn community.
“Although it's going to be unfortunate that we have the close, sometimes that's what's required to make improvements,” Gustkey said. “It will be a little difficult for folks that have to relocate to swim, but when they get back to the facility, I think everyone is going to be appreciate it and be very pleased with the end results.”