Hundreds of Wasatch County residents put on their swimsuits and hit the water as the long-awaited Aquatic Center opened in June.
The Aquatic Center has been in the works for almost a decade. “It started as a grassroots effort,” explained Greg Tayler who started petitioning for a new pool in 2009. “There was a group of 12 of us that swam. We wanted to get something different.”
The rise of the swim team at Wasatch High School also prompted Tayler’s action. “They were getting so good so fast,” said Tayler. The WHS swim team has clenched many individual and team titles including nine men’s regionals, eight women’s regionals, two men’s states, and one women’s state title. “I heard other teams call our pool ‘crumby.’”
Tayler had no idea what he was getting into. The idea of a new community pool resulted in the formation of a committee, endless meetings, and eventually left the fate of a new pool to a vote in 2014.
According to Tayler, the committee was able to raise money to commission a Dan Jones survey to find out if there was truly a need for the pool. The results of that poll strongly supported a new pool.
“A vast majority of those polled surprisingly said they wanted a new pool and even said they would be willing to pay a tax increase for it,” said Tayler.
Tayler was confident the bond would pass, but the community ultimately voted against the first proposed bond by a very small percentage.
Disappointed, Tayler thought it would be another 5-10 years before the community would get a new pool, but the school district felt there was still a need. A new bond was proposed to build an elementary school, a middle school, and a pool.
“The vote on that bond went through with high acceptance,” said Ann Horner, president of the Wasatch County School District Board of Education. “For us the pool has always been an education thing.” Horner continued to explain that the school district was spending an extensive amount of money trying to maintain the old pool.
“We had such a demand for the pool with all of our feeder programs and school teams,” added Horner.
The district enlisted the help of USA Swimming to “build the right thing,” said Aquatic Center Director Dennis Tesch. “They helped to determine an idea of size. They taught us how to run it and give support beyond that,” added Tesch.
While the new Wasatch County Aquatic Center isn’t as grand as the pool first proposed, it features three pools; a 10-lane competition pool, an activity pool, and a therapy pool. During the winter months, a splash pad is being constructed, taking up a portion of the sun patio. The splash pad is scheduled to be up and running this spring.
According to Horner, the splash pad was not included in the original construction because there were so many factors indicating it would cost too much. Board Member Tom Hansen did more research and discovered an economical way to build a splash pad using the remaining proceeds from the bond.
The board of education says they put the needs of the kids in the community first but the Aquatic Center does not only serve the children. According to Tesch, anyone can learn to swim at any age and take advantage of all the programs offered.
“35-40 percent of adult Americans do not know how to swim,” said Tesch. “With two reservoirs close by, we need to help those in our community feel more comfortable and safe.”
In addition to the life-preserving skill of swimming, programs such as water aerobics, water Zumba, and BOGA mat classes offer options for keeping in shape. “In the water there is added resistance. It’s easier on the body with no joint impact. You can get into shape without the impact,” said Tesch.
The center also helps those with special needs. “It is such a great thing for autistic kids and those with disabilities,” said Horner. “It changes their abilities. In the water they are not challenged; they are not handicapped.”
The new, larger facility has allowed the center to increase the number of programs and will be able to host many future events.
“We have been able to quadruple our water aerobics,” Tesch said. In addition, lap lanes are available most of the time other than when swim teams are practicing.
With seating for 500 spectators, a separate entrance, and a giant LED score board, the Aquatic Center will be hosting the 2018 3A and 2A State High School Championships for swimming in addition to many other swim meets, invitationals, and community events.
“We have heard nothing but ‘thank you,’” said Horner.
As for the old pool, Horner said it will be filled in and the space will be used for the growing needs of the high school.