Swimmers seek out underwater secret room

By Hannah Belt

A unique spot on campus is kept a secret from most college students, and that is because it’s completely submerged underwater. 

The pool at East Los Angeles College comes with quite a story. When swimmers from other schools visit, they’re not sure whether the story is true or not. 

Swimmers who visit look for a door, curious about a secret room that they’re not entirely sure exists. 

Equipped with excitement,  curiosity and nothing more than a rumor to go on, visitors set off in a search for this mysterious door to a mythical underwater room. 

Many search, but few far enough; some sustain their search just long enough to mention it in front of someone of an ELAC swimmer who can lead them to the room.  

One of ELACs best-kept secrets is an underwater viewing room which overlooks the entire indoor pool. 

This feature is unlike any other community college campus around. 

Take a locked door and staircase down from the pool deck level and you reach the underwater room.  

The secluded room with two windows is dancing with blue reflection from the sunlight on the pool surface. 

Thick glass  is all that holds the room up against the pressure of the entire pool. 

Of the colleges in the LACCD, ELAC is the only school to have this underwater viewing room feature.

Originally built in the 1970s, ELAC’s pool has never been through a major renovation. 

The underwater room is part of the original design. It was built as a viewing room used to check diver’s form as they enter the water.

 The room is on the deepest side of the pool, right next to the diving boards. 

The viewing room is also useful for seeing the different forms swimmers have underwater or observing techniques from water polo players during games.

“I feel like I’m at the aquarium,” Camila Zacarias, ELAC swimmer said.

The pool allows people to view swimmers from underwater similar to how people view sea creatures at an aquarium. 

“I like to go down there during meets because it gives me a chance to look at other swimmers’ techniques and see what I can do to improve mine. Overall it’s calming. Especially to go down during a meet when everything is so hectic on the pool deck,” Faith Acosta, ELAC swimmer, said.

Visiting swimmers can find the viewing area during a lap of the pool. The two windows are visible by scanning the walls of the pool. Upon inspection, the glass windows are easily discernible. 

In the past, swimmers during warm ups have talked about seeing viewers in the room down below. 

One swimmer submerged, held his breath for an extended period of time, initiated and won a game of rock paper scissors. 

For the most part, the underwater room is not open to the public. 

ELAC swim classes get access to the room upon enrolling for a swim class; depending on your professor, may get you a tour of the facilities. 

Experienced swim instructor Louis Rameriez said he took a class down to the viewing room during a swim meet when multiple other schools were competing at ELAC. 

He said during a lecture on technique, while he was in the viewing room, a trio of  Cal Berkley swimmers found their way in and in amazement said, “We don’t have this at our school.”

 “You’re at ELAC,” Ramirez said.

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