The Greyhound swimming and diving teams use Loyola's Mangione Aquatic Center, which is located on the north end of campus, as their home for practices and competition. The $25-million state-of-the-art facility was completed in the fall of 2000 and has evolved into the perennial home of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) Championships, including this year's event. Regarded conference-wide as the best pool in the MAAC, not only has the facility hosted the last six championship meets, but it also plays host to a number of Loyola's regular season meets as well as club and high school swim competitions each year.
The natatorium is bathed in sunshine from the skylights that span the ceiling several stories above the pool's surface. The pool stretches eight lanes across its 25-yard length and 75-foot width. Movable bulkheads separate the diving area from the swimming area. Seats for 500 spectators bank upward from the pool deck, which is also home to a whirlpool and sauna.
The Fitness and Aquatic Center offers far more than a spectacular natatorium. Other highlights include a 30-foot indoor climbing wall, a 6,000-square foot fitness center with more than 70 pieces of fitness machinery, an elevated indoor track, four racquetball courts and two squash courts, two aerobic/martial arts studios, a three-court gymnasium and a multi-activity court with rounded corners and plexiglass walls for indoor soccer and floor hockey.
Before construction began on the FAC, which is the largest project in College history at 115,000 feet, Loyola administrators traveled to similar facilities throughout the region and incorporated the best each had to offer into its design. The results are impressive.
For the eighth consecutive year, Loyola College will host the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Swimming and Diving Championships. The event is scheduled for February 14-16, 2008 at the Mangione Aquatic Center.
Loyola's swimming and diving teams entered the MAAC in 1990, finishing in sixth place for the men and fifth place for the women in the championship meet. Since then, neither the men nor the women have finished below fourth place at the conference championships, including last year's pair of third-place finishes. The women's team won the conference four consecutive years from 1993 to 1996. Loyola swept the conference titles in 1995 as the men's team won its first MAAC title.
In addition, a Loyola swimmer has been recognized as the most outstanding swimmer or diver at the MAAC Championships nine times, including current assistant coach Marko Turcinov, who was honored with the award. Casey Brandt won most outstanding male swimmer in 1995, which was followed by Mark Gallagher two years later. Amy Cole earned honors for three consecutive championships from 1994 to 1996 while Brianna Hawkins was named the most outstanding female swimmer in 1999. Sarah O'Donnell won the most outstanding diver award during the 2001 MAAC meet.
Is the Pool Fast?
As stylish and beautiful as the natatorium is, its ability to help generate top performances is even more impressive, using many of the latest innovations to make the pool fast.
Throughout the entire racing course, the water is a constant seven feet deep, which diminishes underwater turbulence. On the surface, the latest generation of Kiefer Wave Eater lane lines disperse the surface waves while the extra-deep, extra-wide gutter system absorbs any wave that reaches the side of the racing course. Add to this an eight-lane alpha-numeric scoreboard with programmable graphics and animation and a state-of-the-art sound system, and you have what many consider one of the finest small college natatoriums around.
But the performances tell the story. World record holder Michael Phelps has recorded a number of his best short course efforts in the FAC pool. One of the top all-time performances in the women's 200-yard butterfly was recorded in December 2002 when Emily Goetsch of North Baltimore Aquatic Club (NBAC) notched the time of 1:58.81. Her effort, recorded at the NBAC Christmas Meet, ranks as one of the top 100 all-time fastest performances in the United States.
At that same meet, two National Age Group (NAG) records were established. In the grueling 1650-yard freestyle, 12-year-old Joanna Thomas of the Atlantic City Aquatic Club broke the NAG record with a time of 17:02.64. The NBAC squad of Ann Marie Botek, Kelly Pelequin, Ashley Knapik and Kristina Delp also broke the 13-14 year old NAG record in the 400-medley relay with their mark of 3:51.24.
On the college circuit, the performances in the FAC natatorium have been equally impressive. More than 25 new MAAC swimming standards have made their way to the record book in addition to dozens of individual college school records. And to think that all of these successes have been accomplished with the facility being open for just six years.