By Eric Butler: PNT staff writer
To say the swimming pool at Eastern New Mexico University is a well-kept secret may be a bit of an understatement — especially since being closed for well over a year has added to its awareness camouflage.
“Yeah, it’s an inside pool, isn’t it? I don’t know where it’s at though,” said ENMU senior Rashad McCalister while standing directly in front of the building.
The good news for residents of Portales seeking a second public swimming facility, and university students in particular, is the natatorium is in a gradual process of reopening.
Dr. Mary Drabbs, chair of Eastern’s Health and Physical Education department, said plans are for the pool to keep regular hours by the time ENMU opens its doors for the fall semester Aug. 19.
“It could be open on a limited bases for lap swimming, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., before that though,” Drabbs said.
The pool was closed prior to the Spring 2008 semester for a $2 million facelift.
Originally, it was expected to be closed for only four or five months.
Some of the improvements to the building located on the east side of campus near the science building, include new tile on the pool floor as well as the installation of what’s called dry deck for those walking on the floor outside of the pool.
Heating and air conditioning units to control the climate of the facility have also been repaired.
“It’s an aging pool and we were having issues with the boiler. We were constantly having to patch tile on the floor and there was a lot of infrastructure stuff,” Drabbs said. “It would be hot in the summer and cold in the winter and they’d have to open the doors to the outside.
“That would allow small animals, debris and other stuff to come in,” she added.
The pool was built in 1958.
Another cosmetic improvement is the letters “ENMU” are painted on the pool floor.
Some students are well aware of the natatorium’s existence and had a chance to swim in it before it closed.
“I have and I’m ready for it to open,” said Kara Bible, a junior at the school. “It gives you something else to do. I want it because it has been so hot and I just want to go swimming.”