JACKSON TWP — Ground was broken Monday on the Seneca Valley School District's new aquatics center, which district officials believe will be an asset to the entire community.
During a ceremony attended by district officials and members of the district's swim teams, several people spoke about the center, which is being built adjacent to the Intermediate High School. It will replace the current pool, which is 54 years old. Jim Nickel, school board president, noted much money has been spent over the years fixing the pool, with sights set on a new facility since 2014.
“Now is the time to address a long-term solution for our swimming program,” he said.
Bids for the facility were approved in July, with VendRick Construction Inc. performing general construction for $9.28 million. Hranec Corporation was awarded the HVAC contract for $1.15 million, while Wm. T. Spaeder will handle plumbing for a little more than $1 million. The electrical contract was awarded to McCurley Houston Electric for $1.16 million.
It is scheduled for completion in the spring.
Designed by IKM Architechts, the facility will allow the district to be more in line with Title IX guidelines by having more space for women's locker rooms. It also includes a stretch 25 pool that has a movable bulkhead to create either a 25-meter or 25-yard pool. The standard NCAA and WPIAL short course pool is 25 yards long, but international pools are 25 meters.
According to Amanda Fleming, a health and physical education teacher, the larger facility will allow for additional space for students to work toward the recommended goal of 60 minutes of daily activity. She said it will also help with activities like kayaking, with a larger space to practice skills in a controlled environment. Quieter classroom space for CPR education will also be a benefit, as will a designated area for physical therapy and recovery efforts.
More than that, the larger pool area will help grow programs such as a swimming program for special needs students. The program was created by Seneca Valley senior Gianna Petrella, who wrote a letter that was read aloud during Monday's ceremony by Athletic Director Heather Lewis.
In the letter, Gianna said she was inspired to start the program after learning special needs students were not typically included in traditional swim classes. After pitching to and receiving approval from the school board, the five-week session took place in April, with immediate results.
“We taught them some skills, but they taught us so much more,” Gianna said of the students.
She said the larger pool will help that program expand in the coming years.
“In these waters, some of them may find love for the sport, or how to be safe in the water, or they may find a place in their school where they too can have fun with their friends,” she wrote.
Lewis noted that swimming is the fourth most popular sport or activity in the United States, and the new facility will serve the Seneca Valley community in being more active.
“We can be certain this facility is a game changer for all the students and community members,” she said.