Samuelson Aquatics Center should replace the pool’s bulkhead


Photo by Marcel Hurtubise

The Samuelson Aquatic Center’s bulkhead sits at the end of the pool, currently unable to be moved from its position.

Marcel Hurtubise, Reporter

Swimming is often an underrepresented sport at the collegiate level. It is far from the most financially dependent sport, but sometimes necessary changes go unseen in exchange for more prevailing sports. One example of this is the Samuelson Aquatic Center (SAC) pool’s ongoing need for a new bulkhead.

A bulkhead is a fiberglass construction that moves to separate the pool into different sections. For example, taking a 50-meter pool and making it two 25-meter pools. The bulkhead at the SAC, however, is not currently functional.

In addition to being immobile, the bulkhead is also full of tiny fiberglass splinters that can get into skin and can cause irritation for days. As a swimmer, I can say that whenever we switch the pool to 50 meters, the bulkhead wall is always something to be aware of. Many swimmers complain that wearing clothes afterward hurts because of the tiny fiberglass splinters in their skin.

Head Swim & Dive Coach Robert “Barry” Schreifels has been aware of this issue and has been trying to fix it for some time now. He noticed the bulkhead’s immobility early on and focused on that.

“We played around with it a little bit. We put air in the sides, lifted it up to try to see ‘cause we knew five or six years ago they used to move the bulkhead to create different angles, different areas. They’d move it so they could play polo over here and swim over there,” Schreifels said.

Another problem caused by the bulkhead not moving is the starting blocks.

“They’d move it so the starting area was at the end of the pool, not with our backsides facing the grandstands,” Schreifels said.

This issue of using the starting blocks near the bleachers was also brought up by senior Logan Randall, Kingsmen swim team captain.

“The blocks that we are currently using for short-course meets are not great. The grip tape… is all worn off of them, but we have to use those for meets. Whereas the blocks on the far end are in better condition, but since we can’t move the bulkhead, we can’t use them,” Randall said.

The blocks normally used for meets at the pool often cause swimmers to slip during their dive, which negatively affects their race. The question, then, is whether or not the bulkhead needs to be fixed or fully replaced. 

One swimmer, senior Josh Nekoba, looked into replacing the bulkhead last year to see how much it would cost. He started by searching the internet for companies that sold bulkheads.

“I found a couple [websites]. But they didn’t have any prices listed on the websites, so I had to send out emails, and only one person responded. And I went back and forth for a little while and they said that it would come out to around $25,000 in order to get a new one in,” Nekoba said.

Nekoba continued saying he did not think he could get that much money out of the student government to have the bulkhead replaced, but he believes Cal Lutheran does have the funding required to replace it.

“The funding is there. I just don’t think the bulkhead is a top priority,” Nekoba said.

Schreifels himself brought experts out to the pool this year to investigate the bulkhead and believes that fixing it would be the best option.

“We followed through with a couple swim companies, they both came out, they both worked on it this year with us. Our person in charge of facilities, Matt Lea, worked on it as well and we moved it about eight feet out… so we feel like it’s gonna move. But, there’s air bladders inside of it and one of the air bladders is broken,” Schreifels said.

Schreifels said that now the issue is trying to fix the air bladder without needing a crane to pick up the bulkhead, which would be expensive. However, he believes that the bulkhead would be functional once the air bladder is fixed.

In terms of the fiberglass splinters, Randall said, “I think that if we can get [the bulkhead] to move, that’s like number one. The fiberglass sucks, but it’s not the end of the world… Every pool has its own thing.”

Certainly, no athletic facility is perfect or without kinks in the system. However, having the bulkhead fixed would greatly improve the swim and dive competitions and practices held at Cal Lutheran.