Swim team dives into new home at Phillips pool


Sophia Manolis

Washburn Swimmer Eleanor Dolan dives into the new pool at Phillips Community Center. Senior swimmer and captain Sophie Hansen feels “it has been very awesome to have our own swim pool”.

Diamond Sims and Gabe Chang-Deutsch

South’s swim team, which is combined with the Roosevelt and Washburn teams and called “TMT” (Tigers, Millers, Teddies) got their own pool for the first time this year at Phillips Community Center in South Minneapolis.
Senior swimmer and captain Sophie Hansen feels “it has been an amazing change to have our own pool.” Before relocating to the Phillips Community Center, they had to practice at the YWCA on Lake Street and Southwest High School.
Southwest is located 20 minutes away, which was very inconvenient to go back and forth to. Priority practice time was either late in the evening or before school. This schedule was a big hassle. The consistency Phillips offers is a positive change for the team.
There is a long history of the Phillips Pool being used by swimmers in Minneapolis, but a 10-20 years ago it feel into disrepair and stopped being open. “Phillips used to be a junior high in Minneapolis,” explained Coach Jeff Sanders. “The School District sold the pool and building to the park board. [The park board] used to have the pool running and because of needed repair it sat empty for years. South used to practice here about 40 years ago. It started up again a few years ago. It became a political issue and it started coming together.”
Sanders has been coaching for 34 years. Before now, he has never been able to coach a team “in the same place every day.” He said this “is going to make or team better in the long run because of the consistency. We spent so much time on buses and were never at home with our families. It affects your homework. The consistency is the best.”
Hansen said that “the building and the facility is really nice; both the pool and the locker rooms.” As a captain, she feels that this was “a great opportunity for us… we have had a better season because we have had more pool time, but with less stress of transportation.” Sophomore swimmer Bridget Anderson said, “Personally I feel really good, we never liked practicing at Southwest because they never cleaned it and we always had the worst practice times there.”
The renovation process of the pool required lots of work and energy from the team and the surrounding community.“It took a lot of meetings and people to bring this together. There were times when I thought it wouldn’t happen…For swimmers,  you are here for four years but once you graduate your parents stop being active. These projects require a new set of parents to keep the priority high,” said Sanders.
The community involvement beyond the team was really important in getting the pool going. “The community was huge about this. To get the community involved was what really brought this here,” said Sanders.
The pool will also be used heavily not only by the swim team but also the surrounding Phillips neighborhood. “The Phillips pool is a partnership with the MPS (Mpls Public Schools) and MPRB (Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board). We have to set up practice time ahead so they can plan with the community. We want to honor the community to be able to use the pool. With after school and swimming lesson programs at Phillips we can develop future swimmers and create lifeguard jobs for our swimmers,” said Sanders.

Additionally, many people in the Phillips neighborhood benefit from the pool and the athletic facilities offered in the facility. This is particularly important because Phillips is a lower-income neighborhood that did not have a renovated community center like this before in their area.

Phillips also has a higher percentage of racially and ethnically diverse groups. Sanders hopes the easy accessibility of the pool for the Phillips community will help create opportunities for swimming, which is a disproportionately white sport, to become more diverse. “The Phillips neighborhood has a high Somali population which filters into our schools, and could possibly filter into our team.”

Anderson describes the South swim team as “passionate, hardworking, and dedicated.” TMT swimmers know how to work hard, and for many years have had to adapt to the difficult circumstance of not having a pool. However, the swimmers are very happy to have one less problem for their team and to be able to use the new facility with ease.