By Megan Dooley
In less than one month, Concordia University in River Forest will be closing its swimming pool, due in part to lack of use by students and faculty members.
But what about everyone else? According to several local residents, the pool is a well-used and affordable option for fitness classes, never mind its impact on social lives.
"It's just staggering to us, to think that we're not going to have it anymore," said Cathy Sweitzer, a self-proclaimed relative newbie to the pool after two-and-a-half years of attendance in the water aerobics class. Many of her fellow classmates have been students for going on a decade or more.
Oak Parker Lynda Prischman has been taking exercise classes at Concordia pool three times per week since 2000. "Part of the issue is...how abruptly this is closing," she said, adding that many of her friends and fellow pool-goers were equally mystified by the sudden announcement last week.
According to Sarah Hickman, a communications specialist for Concordia University, the last day the pool will be open is Aug. 7. The pool staffers, including Aquatics Director Adrienne Gedvilas, have all been notified that they will be losing their jobs.
Hickman said that back when the pool opened in 1964, it was an integral part of the university's curriculum. Now, only about three percent of the students, faculty and staff take advantage of their pool privileges.
But times have changed, needs have evolved, and the use isn't considered great enough to keep the pool open. Hickman said that the decision was not a financial one.
But the pool, located on the River Forest campus in the Geiseman Gymnasium, is also open to the public for a small fee. According to patrons, the pool provides the most economical water fitness classes in town.
"It is an indoor pool that does not require you to have a health club membership," Prischman said.
Sweitzer said the $4 per hour price tag can't be beat. "It's extremely reasonable compared to a membership at a club," she said.
Not to mention enjoyable and healthful. Sweitzer teaches courses at Dominican University in River Forest, and said she often rearranges her course schedule around her water aerobics class, because she enjoys it so much. "I wake up on the mornings that I have class and I can't wait," she said. "I just couldn't feel mentally or physically better."
Elizabeth Rexford, an Oak Park woman who takes the same water aerobics class as Sweitzer, said she's most disappointed that Gedvilas will be losing her job. "Adrienne Gedvilas is one of the best teachers I've ever seen in my life," she said.
Rexford said the pool has also provided a breeding ground for new friendships. She and her classmates now make a habit of grabbing lunch together after every class. Some of the swimmers even threw a wedding shower for Gedvilas in April, and later attended her wedding.
"It just was a lot of fun," Rexford said of the overall experience of the class.
Rexford, Sweitzer, and Prischman all said they're hoping Concordia will reconsider their decision before closing the pool. "It's just staggering to us to think that we're not going got have it anymore," Sweitzer said.