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New Casey Gift to Enhance Swim Center

April 07, 2014
A $1 million gift from the Eugene B. Casey Foundation will add brand new locker rooms for  WC’s swim teams.

SONY DSCCHESTERTOWN, MD—The Eugene B. Casey Foundation has made a $1 million gift to Washington College to enhance the campus swim center, including new locker rooms for the men’s and women’s swim teams. 

In announcing the gift, President Mitchell B. Reiss expressed gratitude to Betty Brown Casey ’47 and the Foundation that bears her late husband’s name, describing them as “wonderfully generous benefactors who have helped shape Washington College for more than three decades.” Casey Foundation gifts have funded such major facilities as the Eugene B. Casey Academic Center, the Eugene B. Casey Swim Center, and the purchase and renovation of the Rose O’Neill Literary House and the Brown Cottage guesthouse. The Foundation also supports several scholarships. 

“Quite simply, Betty Casey and her husband, Eugene, through the Eugene B. Casey Foundation, have transformed Washington College with their support,” says Reiss, “and we deeply appreciate our history together. This new gift will reward our scholar-athletes for their hard work in the pool and boost our recruiting. It couldn’t come at a better time, with our swimmers and coaching staff coming off such a strong season.” This year, the Shoremen broke 12 school records, and head coach Kimberly Lessard was named Centennial Conference Men’s Coach of the Year.

Much of the million-dollar gift will create new, thoroughly modern locker rooms for the home teams. In the current 30-year-old facility, the men’s and women’s teams each have just one locker room to accommodate themselves, their visiting teams, and the rest of the community. “We are excited to have a space dedicated just to our swimmers, a space they can take pride in,” says Lessard, who coaches both the men’s and women’s teams.

One aspect of the planned addition that is especially important to Lessard is a lounge area where swimmers can squeeze in more study time before and after practices. “We take such pride in our teams’ academic achievements—our men’s team earned the 11th highest GPA among DIII teams, and our women were ranked 15th, out of the more than 250 schools in the division,” she says. “We want to continue that strong tradition. Plus, we currently do not have a room where we can have team meetings or team pep talks during the meets, so the lounge area will have many purposes.” 

Other amenities will include a stationary bicycle for warming up, an ice machine, and a swimsuit dryer. 

Coach Lessard and Athletic Director Bryan Matthews are working closely with project architect Daniel Harrigan of Spillman Farmer Architects, the same Bethlehem, Pa.-based firm that designed Roy Kirby, Jr. Stadium. As a former collegiate swimmer and Olympic medalist—he earned a bronze medal in the 200-meter backstroke in Montreal in 1976—Harrigan knows his way around the pool. He also designed an addition for the swim center at his alma mater, North Carolina State, which, as coincidence would have it, is named the Casey Aquatic Center after a former swim coach and athletic director. “So you could definitely say I’m the expert on building additions to swim centers named in honor of Caseys,” he quips.  

“How perfect is that?” asks Lessard. “It’s so exciting to have an Olympic swimmer as our architect and designer. We are going to have some amazing locker rooms.” 

Below, a photo from the 1985 dedication of the Casey Swim Center shows, from left, Betty Brown Casey, Eugene B. Casey, and Libby Cater, wife of then president Douglass Cater.

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Last modified on Apr. 8th at 10:43am by John Beck.