Ecil Kang blares music over the speakers at the Recreation and Athletics Centre (RAC) pool, as she watches over a Thursday afternoon lane swim. In addition to being a lifeguard at Ryerson, Kang, 23, works at two YMCA pools. She said the feel at the RAC is very different than other pools, a point that many Ryerson community members would agree on.
“There would be more natural lighting if [the pool] were in a more modern building,” Kang said. The pool has a long row of windows along the south side, just above the viewing gallery, but they look out into Kerr Hall. “It’s an older pool which is why it looks the way that it does compared to more modern pools that you’ll see in Toronto,” Kang said.
As Ryerson continues to build new facilities that puts the university in the spotlight, the pool has not received as much attention as others. Though it opened during the 1963-64 school year as part of Kerr Hall, discussions about replacing the 53-year-old pool — the only pool on campus — are not very high on the university’s priority list.
The pool is closed for maintenance every May. During that time, the tiles that line the pool and deck are cleaned, damaged tiles are replaced, and older pool equipment is inspected and replaced if necessary.
However, annual facelifts are not enough fix the pool’s bigger problems. Located underground between the RAC and Kerr Hall, the pool has to rely entirely on artificial light. Many of the tiles on the perimeter of the pool deck are already showing serious wear and dirt buildup. The six lane pool is around 23 metres long, but Canadian swimming competitions can only be done in pools that are a minimum of 25 metres in length.
Not all programs are affected [by the pool being 23 metres],” said Kang. “Certain programs, such as the Masters Swim Club, would be more used to using a 25 metre pool… but they just make up the extra distance,” she said.
New this year, the pool will be delivering youth swimming lessons on weekends as part of the Lifesaving Society’s “Swim for Life” program. The Lifesaving Society, which delivers swimming programs across Canada and is the only agency that can certify lifeguards, sets all of its standards in the longer metric distance, which means delivery of their program will also have to be adjusted for the RAC pool.
The pool underwent further upgrades this past July, as the walls were repainted and new lane ropes, flags, signage and motivational posters were installed. The changes were made to update “the overall image and feel” of the pool, according to Anthony Seymour, Ryerson’s recreation manager.
Although Seymour, 43, is happy with the current condition of the pool, he says that a new pool would be the ideal situation. Seymour, who has worked at Ryerson since 1998, said that there was no room to include a pool in the Mattamy Athletic Centre (MAC). “We didn’t get half the stuff we wanted in there,” said Seymour. “A number of universities have upgraded their pools over the years, but they’re all universities that have lots of space on their campus and the ability to do that.”
“I live out in Whitby, and when I go out to Durham College or UOIT I get jealous of all the empty space those schools have.”
After the MAC opened in 2012, attention turned towards improving the RAC for a few years. Seymour references the work done on the pool, as well as the installation of new equipment and flooring in the weight room, as contributing factors to a rise in attendance. Now, Seymour says that Ryerson is more focused on building academic space.
“[The pool] is getting the attention that it needs,” said Seymour. “[A new pool] is just not something that’s feasible for us at this time, cost-wise.”