The People and Places of Dickinson College
 Swimming meet in the Alumni Gymnasium Pool, 1951
 Photograph courtesy of the Dickinson College Archives

This photograph illustrates the 1951 Dickinson College Swim Team competing in a close fought contest with the Georgetown University Hoyas in the ground floor pool of the Alumni Gymnasium.
Swimming was not always a part of the Dickinson College competitive intercollegiates sports program.  It came about  with the construction of the Alumni Gymnasium in 1929.  Moving from intermural to intercollegiate status, the six member team, ironically the same strength as the 1998 men's squad,  had their first "meet" against Gettysburg College in the 1930 season, one year after the Gymnasium opening in January, 1929.  This was the first of two meets with "G-burg" that year.  After these meets, swimming at Dickinson gradually became more popular, and eventually became a recognized varsity sport at the college.
The Water Devils had nine swim meets in the 1951 season.  They had a record of two wins and six losses in the regular season and then finished last in the Little Three Meet that wound up the year.  They finished sixth overall out of ten teams in the Middle Atlantic Association.  Although the record may not show it, it was an impressive season for first year head coach Benny Coren.  He brought this sixteen man group together and taught them to be a physically fit and inspired team.  He also taught them to be competitive, as this nail-bitingly close 38-37 loss to the Georgetown Hoyas clearly shows.
The place bringing this group of people together was, as noted, the Alumni Gymnasium. (For more on the Alumni Gymnasium, click here)  This facility replaced the old gymnasium, itself an impressive structure for its day when it was built in 1885, as the center of athletic

The First Dickinson Gymnasium - College and Louther
activity on campus.  The new building was located on the south side of the campus, across High Street, on the lot vacated with the demolition of the first South College building.  It was completed in 1929 and cost more than $250,000 to build.  It was constructed out of limestone, and its main floor, which provided for basketball and other indoor activities, was 120 feet long and 83 feet wide.  There were movable steel bleachers which accommodated spectators.  There were also dressing rooms on the first floor for the student athletes.  Also on the ground floor was the swimming pool.  The pool measured 75 feet long and was 25 feet wide.  This pool is small by today's Olympic sized standards, but it served its purpose.  There was a spectators' gallery on each side of the pool that was used for meets.

The Alumni Gymnasium
 Today there is a new pool located in the Kline Life/Sports Learning Center, which replaced in turn the Alumni Gym in 1980.  This pool is a little different than the old Alumni Gym's pool, however.  It is a wider, eight lane pool though it remains approximately the same in length.  On the left of the picture below  there is a 14 foot deep diving well.  There are two diving boards there - one at 1 meter, and one at 3 meters.  Overlooking it all is a mezzanine level which seats 300 students.

The Kline Center Aquatics Center

The old Alumni Gymnasium has since been remodeled into the Weiss Center for the Arts, and its function as a merging place for people and place serves other causes.

Paul Diorio

Dickinson Microcosm 1930 and 1951
Dickinsonian Friday, February 9, 1951  p. 3
Kline Life Sports Learning Center architects' pamphlet  p. 4, copy in Dickinson College Archives