Opinions on Conant’s most controversial P.E. unit

Let’s be honest, there is no P.E. unit at Conant more talked about than the swim unit. For the few weeks that it happens, the hallways are filled with conversations such as, “What are we doing in swim today? Is it a free day? Please be a free day…”. With the topic resurfacing due to the synchronized swim unit, concerns are starting to bubble up once again. Everyone has their own opinions regarding the swim unit, but is it possible to make improvements that address people’s concerns? 

To find out, I interviewed some Conant students and gathered their biggest questions and concerns- then set out to solve them.


Every student I interviewed agreed that the pool locker rooms are disgusting. Some popular complaints about the locker rooms were that they are “disgusting and flooded”, and that there’s tons of gross things floating in the water, like wrappers and paper towels. Daniel Guo, ‘27, a member of the boys’ swim team, said that his least favorite part of the unit was “taking a shower, because they (the locker rooms) were extremely dirty.”

So the locker rooms are disgusting. Although many were quick to blame the maintenance staff for ‘never cleaning them’, further investigation reveals that this issue may be students’ own fault. 

According to the Building and Grounds Manager Alex Woods, “The pool locker rooms are cleaned daily by our 3rd shift crew from 10:30 PM to 7:00 AM. We also check them throughout the day.” If the locker rooms are cleaned this frequently, students need to realize that the staff are doing their part to keep them clean, and that they are partially our responsibility, too. 

That leaves the question, what can we do about our filthy locker rooms? Wellness Department Chair David Cromer suggested, “Students can and should clean up after themselves in all areas of the school. … Additionally, students should let their teacher know before class if there are towels, trash, etc. on the floor so it can be addressed with the previous class’s teacher and students.” Although it can be a chore to clean up after yourself, sometimes even for other students, it’s a necessary step in order to have clean locker rooms. If everyone cleaned up after themselves, we wouldn’t have dirty locker rooms to begin with.

Another complaint among students was that the unit felt too long, and we learned too little in return. According to Conant P.E. teacher Anthony Donatucci, we get 10 minutes to change and 20 minutes to get unchanged during swim units. Many felt that swimming for only 15 minutes a day wouldn’t give us enough time to swim, making little impact.

Nate Polanco, ‘27, voiced this concern, “I feel like it could be beneficial, but they have to add more lessons. It felt very slow.” 

On top of the little time we get in the pool, another reason why the unit felt so “slow” may relate to what we actually did in the pool. Many of the lessons were spent either re-learning the basics (floating, kicking, etc.), or were free days. It can get very demotivating to go through the ordeal of changing in the locker rooms, just to flutter kick for 15 minutes and get out. Personally, I found that the days when we swam laps and raced other students were the most useful. I felt that during those days, I was actually exercising and doing something worth my time. 

Overall, is the unit worth all the effort that seems to go into it? For the people who know how to swim already, maybe not. But for the people learning to swim for the first time, the answer might be yes. Most students, myself included, agreed that the importance of knowing how to swim outweighed how uncomfortably slow the unit felt. 

Katerina Nikolla, ‘27, a Conant girls’ swim team member, said, “I saw people that just didn’t know how to swim, and are now doing freestyle- … it’s an improvement.” 

Most students who learned how to swim for the first time also agreed they can breathe easier now. Knowing how to swim will not only help them tremendously in certain emergency situations, but also will allow them to have more fun at the pool and the beach.

Suhani Rai, ‘27, another member of the girls’ swim team, gave another point of view. “I know a lot of people, myself included, kind of just sit in the back and do nothing during P.E. It was a nice opportunity to switch things up.” As a fellow P.E. loner, I also appreciated the change in scenery. 

Ironically, the conclusion of this article isn’t that students don’t want a swim unit, but instead, it’s that students want a more thorough swim unit. Although the free days were much appreciated, many felt that the unit wouldn’t have felt like a waste if they included more material and gave us more time to practice. 

Guo commented on this, saying “I wish they took out some of the health days, because there’s so much to cover during swimming.”

Replacing some of the health days with swim days may be a beneficial solution to this problem. Since most of the health lessons were simple, and there were only a couple of projects, it wouldn’t be impossible to condense some of it. Projects like the dating video were deemed as unnecessary by many, and could easily be shortened or left out all together. This would leave room for a more thorough swim unit, which would not only give the non-swimmers a much better idea of how to swim, but also prevent the rest of the students from being bored the whole time. 

No matter what happens, hopefully, by the synchronized swimming unit, both students and staff will be ready to take a deep dive back into the pool.

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