Long-awaited pool renovations delayed

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Long-awaited pool renovations delayed

The PV pool bulkhead construction will start in the spring of 2020, along with new starting blocks.

The PV pool bulkhead construction will start in the spring of 2020, along with new starting blocks.

Carly Lundry

The PV pool bulkhead construction will start in the spring of 2020, along with new starting blocks.

Carly Lundry

Carly Lundry

The PV pool bulkhead construction will start in the spring of 2020, along with new starting blocks.

Nate Martell, News Editor

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Pleasant Valley High School is one of the last schools in Iowa with a 25 meter competition pool. The swim program had been anticipating scheduled pool renovations this past summer, however, complications arose. 

Swimmers, parents and coaching staff were told they’d be coming back to a 25 yard pool with a new bulkhead and starting blocks. A new bulkhead would reduce the length of the pool and allow for a normal 25 yard pool length. This would allow for athletes to qualify for state times in the pool, something that is not allowed with the current pool length of 25 meters (equivalent to 27.3 yards). Invitationals could be held and records could be broken in the Spartan’s home pool. Unfortunately, after three months of the pool being shut down, all that was completed was a fresh coat of paint within the pool and mechanical improvements. 

Jonathan Chiles, a junior and captain of the boys swim team, was looking forward to the new pool improvements because “all of our races here don’t count as real times due to the length.” Chiles went on to say that “we might have some of the worst blocks I have swam with.” Within the anticipated design plan, there were new state-of-the-art starting blocks. 

When August came around and there was no bulkhead or new starting blocks, many were disappointed and frustrated, leaving them to wonder what had happened. Chiles said “it was really disappointing to see that none of the planned additions were put into place especially for how long the pool was shut down.” 

The pool was shut down for the entirety of the summer for the planned additions, which resulted in the Piranhas Swim Club having to utilize other locations for practices and forcing the boys swim team to host their summer clinics at Augustana College. 

Chiles holds the thought of many others, saying that “the paint job for the pool was welcomed and definitely makes it look better, but it doesn’t make up for the fact that the pool still has a lot of issues that should be addressed.”

The school worked with USA Swimming and other companies to evaluate the pool and create a design. D’Anne Kroemer, athletic director at PVHS, stated “Throughout the entire process, the challenge that we found was that we could not be guaranteed the completion of the bulkhead by the start of the girls high school swimming and diving season.”

If the bulkhead was to be installed, it would not have allowed the girl’s swim team to practice at their home pool. The evaluation exposes additional problems;the diving board will need to be elevated by a pulley system to eliminate the risk of a swimmer diving off the starting block and hitting their head on the diving board. The ladders on the sides of the pool would have to be moved.

Kroemer stated, “We really had two options. A temporary/permanent bulkhead or a new wall. To where we completely drain the pool, put new forms in, pour concrete and make a new wall.” Kroemer said the decision was ultimately made to utilize a movable bulkhead, in case high school swimming adopts metric measures, the bulkhead could be taken out.

It was concluded the risks would put the project on hold. The bulkhead and new starting blocks are “on hold with the anticipation of construction after the boys high school season,” according to Kroemer. Swimmers, parents, and coaches can look forward to the renovations beginning in the spring of 2020. 

The pool at Pleasant Valley High School is 32 years old, meaning that it is accustomed to renovations and additions frequently. In 2012, the pool got a new sound system and two years ago, a new timing system and scoreboard were installed, costing over $35,000. Other improvements within the past five years, such as new lane lines, flags, touchpads and meet software have cost upwards of $15,700.

The design team that came in and evaluated the pool cost PV around $12,000, simply for the evaluation and design. The starting blocks that are planned to be installed next year will cost upwards of $33,000. 

The Pleasant Valley swim program will be able to look forward to a 25 yard pool in the upcoming year, along with new starting blocks. This will allow swimmers to achieve state qualifying times, break team records, and for invitationals to be hosted by the Spartans. Come spring of 2020, many will see some exciting changes coming to the pool.