Snohomish comes out for first swim at new pool
|Doug Ramsay photos
SNOHOMISH - Words used to describe the new Snohomish Aquatic Center, which had its grand opening on Saturday, Jan. 25, included “magical,” “truly great” and “an aquatic wonderland.”
Aquatic wonderland is certainly one way to describe the new 52,000-square-foot facility that for many is a dream come true for the community.
“I’ve watched this place be built for the last two years, essentially, and what I have noticed is that when people are in here, it’s just magical,” said Kristin Foley, spokeswoman for the Snohomish School District, which built the facility. “It really is, because people are just so happy. It brings a whole new life into it.”
Over the course of the last four to six years, many people in the Snohomish community have worked and contributed to the planning, construction and now opening of the facility.
Bill Fulton, design committee member, said the conception of the facility all came down to basic logic: public safety in knowledge of swimming. Fulton went on to describe how Snohomish has always been a water and swim community, given the rivers, and series of lakes in the area, and teaching children the basics of swimming and water safety is nothing less than a major concern and priority.
“We’ve always had a strong swimming community,” Fulton said. “I was worried about our children not being able to swim. Now we have a place to show them.”
Among the many activities offered at the Snohomish Aquatic Center is swimming lessons for children as young as 36 months old, all the way up to teen and adult swim lessons.
The lifeguard program at the aquatic center will also contribute to public safety as well as provide local jobs. The minimum age requirement to train and become a lifeguard is 16. Rob Serviss, aquatics director, said there is still a need for more lifeguards.
The center is split into two main areas: the recreation side and the natatorium side.
On the recreation side are all the family-oriented “fun” pool perks, such as a recreation pool, warm-water therapy pool, spray-play and zero-entry area for children, the Flowrider, which is the in-house surf-simulation machine, a lazy river and the Splashtacular water slide.
“This is an aquatic wonderland,” Foley said upon touring the recreation side. “Both sides (of the pool areas, separated by a large window) are saline. Our water is a saline system that produces natural chlorine. There are different bodies of water that are all inter-connected. Our lazy river is not very lazy. We’ve had kids in here to test it out, and it is a hit. It moves along pretty quickly and kids love it!”
On the natatorium side of the facility is the much-needed competition swimming pool.
The 10-lane, 25-yard by 25-meter pool boasts a technologically advanced Colorado timing system, complete with touch pads and time board. It also holds a deep diving well and two diving boards, as well as 10 starting blocks. The natatorium can seat 420 spectators.
“We have this large glass window here, so that the two areas — the Rec side and the competition pool side — can operate independently of each other,” Foley said. “So if there’s a swim meet over (on the natatorium side), we can still have the rec side open.”
Prior to the opening of the Snohomish Aquatic Center, the Snohomish High School swim team had to shuttle back and forth to other pools to hold practices and work outs. Serviss, the swim team head coach for both high schools, said he is glad they now have a place to call home, and he hopes he can get the swim team numbers back up to competition levels.
At the grand opening on Saturday, the swim team performed for the community in an effort to show how much they appreciate the new facility.
The dedication ceremony, led by Fulton, was attended by more than 800 people from Snohomish and surrounding communities. The public was able to tour the facility and participate in open swims.
Regular hours began on Monday, with the Snohomish School District taking over operations of the facility after help from the Snohomish County YMCA in the months leading up to the grand opening.
“YMCA has been working with the school district to prepare the facility,” Foley said. “But from Jan. 25 and on, the pool will be operated by the Snohomish School District.”
Profits made from admission fees, lessons, parties, etc. will go straight into the school district’s general fund.
Currently, the facility employs between 50 and 60 people, and it has yet to be determined if they will remain YMCA employees, or transition into school district employees.
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