From now on, students who want to go out on the St. Mary’s River will first have to take a dip in the Michael P O’Brien Athletic and Recreation Center (ARC) pool for a swim test.
This is because the administration is bringing back a policy that has fallen to the wayside for the past few years. From now on, in order to rent watercraft from the River Center, students will have to take a two-part test, consisting of a 75-yard untimed swim and three minutes of treading water.
According to Charles Jackson, Vice President of Planning and Facilities, this rule used to be implemented before the building of the river center, but “keeping the waterfront operations going while building was very challenging”, so those renting out boats discontinued using the rule.
According to Jackson, whether or not a student has passed the test will be tracked through the OneCard system, and checked when students go to check out watercraft. Students who do not pass the test will still be able to take out kayaks, but must wear a personal flotation device (PFD), e.g. life jacket, at all times. Visitors will also have to wear a PFD as well as sign a waiver. Students wishing to take out dinghys will have to both pass the test and wear PFD, since according to Jackson operating such boats is inherently more dangerous and “a lot more things can happen.”
Jackson said that these parameters were “middle range” in comparison to other institutions, and that the administration wanted to bring it back before doing an external review of the larger waterfront policy. He added that he hopes “folks understand it’s a reasonable stance to take,” despite the inconvenience. “This is the safety of our students and our community.”
All students, faculty, and staff that have not taken the swim test (e.g. those who did not take it during orientation) will have until Thursday, Sep. 30 to do so. Jackson said, “I encourage everyone to take the test.”