For the first time in 31 years, Pierce College is getting not one, but two new pools.
Pierce’s competition pool, originally built in 1978 is undergoing a major renovation and a wellness pool is being built.
Reconstruction of the competition pool, which is 25 meters wide and 25 yards long, include new tile, lights, drainage system and wider steps with more railing – all built “according to new code,” said Richard Nasr, senior project manager from Swinerton Management and Consulting.
The $15-million project, which also includes improvements to the football and softball fields, north and south gyms and overhauling the entire aquatic facility is funded from Proposition A/AA.
Swimming Pool Supervisor John Vowles said some of the improvements will include; new floors in the women’s locker room, a new men’s locker room, new 1 m and 3 m diving boards, covered bleachers – which will seat 300 spectators – new starting blocks, a new fence with galvanized, perforated panels and portable lifeguard chairs.
What’s a wellness pool?
The new pool at Pierce will be smaller and shallower than the competition pool. It will be five lanes wide and 25 yards long and 2 1/2 – 4 1/2 feet deep. Vowels said it will also be kept “a few degrees warmer” than the competition pool.
“Unless you have three or four pools, the one pool that you end up building has to meet four different considerations; education, athletics, therapy and recreation,” Vowels said.
“What we’re trying to do is build a pool that meets all four of the requirements at the same time,” he added.
Fred Shaw, in his 18th year as head coach of the swim team, stated that with the addition of the wellness pool means “room to do more.”
“We’ll be able to run bigger meets because there will be a place to warm up, we can have a class, lap swimmers and my master’s team at the same time. We can offer more programs and consequently earn more money,” he added.
Construction began in August and was supposed to be completed by November 30, and again in February, but due to “unforeseen delays” the Steven E. Schofield Aquatic Center – named for the former president of Friends of Pierce Pool, who died in July 2007 from bone cancer is now scheduled to open April 1.
“When you deal with existing conditions, it is not like a new pool,” Nasr said. “You only know (the problems) you can see visually.”
Shaw stated that some of the some of those problems included the deck surrounding the competition pool and electrical outlets.
Additionally, the original plan for the aquatic center didn’t include a new deck but Pierce President Robert Garber wanted to add it, causing the opening date to be pushed back even further.
Weather has also been a factor in the delays.
“Every time there is a storm it sets us back a few days,” Shaw said. “You can’t work during (the rain) but you also have to let (everything) dry out.”
An “inconvenient” truth
Until the aquatic center opens, the swimand diving team will continue practicing at Los Angeles Valley College and sharing the pool with Valley’s swim and diving teams.
“We have four (swimmers) in a lane sometimes,” said Shaw. “They have to swim circles.”
Shaw also had to recently reschedule all of the team’s home meets to away meets.
The delays have not only “inconvenienced” the swim team, but puts the status of swimming classes into question.
According to Bill Norton, chairperson of physical education, swimming classes are set to begin April 13. They will be shorter-term classes, meeting four times a week for eight weeks instead of twice a week for 16 weeks.
He indicated that if one of the pools isn’t completed by then, the classes may need to be canceled, but that they were trying to do “everything but cancel.”