New Aquatic Center highlights bright future for UNF swimming

Riley Platt, Sports Reporter

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In many aspects of life, patience is often key. Great things come to those who wait, and UNF swimming is no different. After over half of a decade without a venue of their own, the Ospreys will soon have a home, which will serve as a springboard for the future of the program.

 This mockup of the new aquatic complex looks to improve UNF’s swimming program as it’s set to be completed sometime this summer

Due to a myriad of reasons, some sports teams find themselves in a position where they are displaced for a year or so. However, this rarely lasts for seven years. Against all odds, UNF has made this work, utilizing Uible Pool at the Bolles School as their unofficial home during this span. However, using a high school facility 11 miles away from campus is by no means ideal.

If you’ve walked around campus anytime within the last year or so, chances are that you have noticed construction fences near the Student Wellness Complex. The $8.3 million project is set to be completed this summer, with the facility being ready to host the Ospreys for their first home meet against FGCU and Georgia Southern in October. 

The new home of UNF swimming will contain a nine-lane Olympic-sized pool. In addition, there will also be locker rooms and offices for coaches. Serving as the cherry on top is a LED scoreboard to keep fans in the know during matches.

While new facilities are always a plus, this addition to the UNF family carries significant weight with it. Now having a true home, the Ospreys will look to break into the upper echelon of collegiate swimming. Head coach Ian Coffey highlights this and how important it is for the program.

“It’s a really big deal for us because we’ve been commuting for the past seven years to different pools,” Coffey said. “Now, we get to have our own facility on campus; this will be our home. With that, it also shows the commitment from the university and the athletic department in our program.”

Not only will the pool be used by the swim team, but UNF students can also enjoy the venue. This increased involvement with students and the university community is something that Coach Coffey also noted.

“Having our own home, now we can have more of the student body attend our competitions,” Coffey said. “It’s easier to walk across campus to a pool than to get in your car and drive over to Bolles.” 

 A side view of new aquatic complex

UNF swimming competes in the Coastal Collegiate Sports Association. This conference includes programs such as Liberty, Georgia Southern and FGCU. Being in such a well-rounded conference may make it more difficult to pick up wins, but it also pushes the Ospreys to become even better swimmers.

Being in the state of Florida presents a gold mine of swimming recruits. There’s just one problem: larger schools often have their way in recruiting. This is the case with any sport, but with local talent being produced in droves makes this an even more pertinent issue with swimming. While the UF’s and FSU’s of the world may run the scene, Coach Coffey remains optimistic that the new Aquatic Center can help elevate UNF to that level.

“[The new facility] has a big impact on recruiting,” Coffey said. “Having a brand new facility that’s gonna be the nicest and fastest facility in northeast Florida, it’s a great recruiting tool. People get to know that they get to swim in this great facility for the next four years.”

While facilities alone don’t build great programs, they certainly help. To see this illustrated, one can look to the growing importance placed on locker rooms in major college football. By providing better facilities, programs can bring in top recruits and elevate the program to become elite.

With great student-athletes, a fantastic coach and a new state-of-the-art home, the sky’s the limit for the Ospreys swim team.


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