Maroon & Gold talked to former Loyola swimmers and water polo players and asked them what they will remember about O’Shaughnessy Pool, which was built in 1957 and hosted its final high school event April 30. Construction on a new aquatics facility starts this summer. It’s Phase 1 of Loyola’s Second Century Campaign.
Class of 1989
We had a lot of great memories as a group that bonded us together. Jumping off the balcony in the pool. Plunging into the cold pool on a dark January morning while coach drank his coffee and read the paper. Watching our hair getting bleached out over the course of the swim season. Struggling to climb out of the pool with its high walls after a really tough Saturday practice or during a water polo game. Cutting up our hands and feet on the old wooden fronted starting blocks. Dodging the divers during practice. Doing it all together.
Class of 1990
In the fall of 2007, we were confident we had a good 200-yard freestyle relay team with Betsy Webb, Liz Clarke, Kelsey Stranc and Ellie Ansani. For two weeks before the state meet, we sat down with each other and mapped out a plan. The girls had as much to say as we did as coaches. It was awesome. We ended up beating New Trier [by .02 seconds] to win the state title. So cool.
The level of talent that has been in that pool is staggering. Some of the battles we’ve had in there with Fenwick. We hosted JV conference for years, and won it several times in a row. I won’t forget the crazy Christmas traditions. We would spend Christmas Eve together practicing until like 10 p.m.. Then, we stayed to watch the alumni water polo game. It was sort of a badge of honor getting it done in that pool. The amount of learning about life that went on there is incredible.
Class of 1997
Editor’s note: Patrick Stein was a swimmer and water polo player who suffered a brain aneurysm in the fall of 2010, his senior year, that resulted in Locked-in syndrome. Although he’s conscious and cognitively functional, he’s unable to physically move or verbally communicate. As a senior, Stein was a captain for both the swimming and diving and water polo teams.
As a coach, the memory that stands out the most was our 2011 water polo senior night when we played St. Ignatius. We had a tough 0-5 start to the season. We were out of sorts as we had been without our captain Patrick Stein all season. That game was the first time he came back since his surgery. His strength and determination were such an inspiration to us. Having him on the bench that night was a special moment for our boys. We beat St. Ignatius, one of the top teams in the state that year. We continued to fight on behalf of Patrick, our leader, all the way to a third-place trophy at the state tournament.
As a swimmer, my favorite memory was meeting on deck with our coach Eric McClaren on Saturday before we went to the 1996 state meet. He mentioned how he hadn’t slept, but he knew how we could take a third-place trophy that day. It all came down to the 400-yard free relay, and we had to beat New Trier to get the job done. We ran out of the door all fired up, headed to Evanston and got third to bring home the second state trophy in program history. Having that alone time on deck as a team was a special moment.
Class of 1999
I first thing that comes to mind is practicing in Lane 1. Two of the girls I swam with in that lane — Alison Hickey and Kristin Ulaszek — still are my best friends today. Swimming is tough, and it’s easier knowing you and your teammates are in it together. We won the Catholic League my senior year. That was a big thing for us. We were the second senior class at Loyola, and it was pretty amazing to win it that quickly. It was the first one for the girls. We like to think we were pioneers for the girls who followed us.
Class of 2000
I hate saying goodbye to old buildings. I’m a history teacher, so I like old stuff. But it’s time. I have a lot of memories. One thing I like is it’s small. I can move around the deck easily, especially during a practice. It’s a cool atmosphere. We have the music cranked up, and everybody loves it. That’s something you can do in an intimate environment. Assistant coach Greg Hartman has said there’s something to training here. The pool is wavy with its high walls and gutters. I do think it has toughened us up and has given us a mental edge over other teams. It’s been incredible what we’ve done here, the caliber of swimmers we have produced. I’ve always told our kids to be grateful for what you have.
Class of 2012
First thing that pops into my head is my junior water polo year. It was senior night, and the game was against St. Ignatius. There was a rumor that one of our seniors, Patrick Stein, was going to be there. It would be the first time he was on deck since his injury. When we heard that, we wanted to make sure to pack the stands. We did a pretty good job. St. Ignatius was incredible that year. They had one of the best players in the country. There was a slim chance we could beat them. But Stein, who was our emotional backbone, showed up. It was so loud in there, and the energy was awesome. We ended up beating them. When the final buzzer blew, everybody was yelling and screaming. It was special.
Class of 2018
Our pool is small and maybe not very nice, but it had everything you needed. I never felt like we were at a disadvantage. I think we were successful because of our facility. The little annoyances were good for us. Swimming is a gritty sport. If you have water, you can train. Whatever adversity we had, it helped build our character. There was a practice early one season when it was so hot that we couldn’t handle it. We ended up going to Dairy Queen instead. Music was a huge part of our team. We always made playlists and jammed out at our early morning practices. We had one speaker, maybe not the greatest, but it was loud because of our small pool. Things like that I will remember forever.