An inaugural season may still be two years away, but already George Fox University is recruiting athletes interested in competing in swimming at the NCAA Division III level.
The university has announced it will add men’s and women’s swimming as intercollegiate sports during the 2018-19 academic year. Those interested in participating in the “zero year” phase of the program in 2017-18 are encouraged to apply at apply.georgefox.edu. Students who apply by the early application deadline of Nov. 1, 2016, waive the $40 application fee and are eligible to compete for academic scholarships as part of George Fox's Scholarship Competition.
The addition of swimming brings the number of sports offered at the university to 19. George Fox will be the only Christian college in Oregon to offer the sport and is the final Northwest Conference school to field a swim team.
The announcement comes as Chehalem Park and Recreation District embarks on a renovation of the Chehalem Aquatic and Fitness Center, which will serve as the Bruins’ home venue. A $19.9 million bond, passed by voters in November of 2014, will fund needed basic infrastructure updates and the installation of more modern features, equipment and amenities. Plans call for groundbreaking on the facility to begin in October of 2016, with the goal of opening by December of 2017.
George Fox plans to hire a coach in 2017, giving that person a year to recruit before the inaugural season, according to Director of Athletics Craig Taylor.
“This addition gives us the full complement of sports that the Northwest Conference offers, so it rounds out our athletic offerings to be consistent with the rest of the league,” Athletic Director Craig Taylor said. “And those who wish to swim in college who in the past might not have considered us will consider us now. The timing for us, both from an athletic standpoint and with the renovation of the aquatic center, is ideal.”
While the final design has yet to be announced, the Chehalem Aquatic and Fitness Center project will involve adding additional space for school swim meets; redeveloping the facility to meet current demand and reduce overcrowding; improving pool design to provide better safety for students and seniors; replacing out-of-date machinery to improve energy efficiency; and replacing structurally deficient cement and rebar infrastructure. Parking for the 46-year-old facility will also be increased from 70 spaces to 148. The natatorium and deck is projected to be 25,000 square feet in size, while the competition pool itself will take up 6,900 square feet of space.
Taylor said swim teams typically carry about 45 athletes who compete over 16 dates at the NCAA Division III level. The season is split, with the first dates of competition set from September through November and the second from January through March.