JACKSON, Mich. — Jackson High School recently opened its new $15.5 million Aquatic Center with a 500,000-gallon pool.
The facility is 30,000 square feet. It allows up to 499 people to watch the events.
“We’ve got 40 girls in here swimming so it has exploded our swim team. But, we are a community pool. If you think about it, our swim team is made up of swimmers from Lumen Christi, swimmers from Western Schools all come and swim here at Jackson High School," Superintendent Jeff Beal said.
The plan started to come together in 2016. Jackson High girls swim team Senior Captain McKinley Smith was over the moon when she heard about them.
“I was very excited. The old pool was just too small and compact. Then I saw the drawings for this and I’m like, ‘oh, my God.’ I was afraid it wasn’t going to be done for my senior year. I was very pumped for us," said Smith, who competes in the 200 freestyle relay, the 50 freestyle, the 100 freestyle and the 400 meter relay.
The facility also opened up opportunities for the Jackson community including what Jackson Parks and Recreation officials are doing with it. Two nights a week they bring in groups to do laps in the pool and aerobics.
“In the summer we’re looking forward to youth swim and opportunities for kids and families to come in and swim for a couple hours. Then, we’ll rotate another group in for a couple bucks. We’ll be doing swim lessons as well,” Beal said.
Beal emphasizes this is also primarily a classroom.
“Our physical education classes are in here. You’ll see anywhere from 150 to 250 kids in this pool every day,” he said. “It’s got water polo in it, it’s got the volleyball nets and there’s a rock climbing wall that fits on the side. We really truly see this as a training pool. A world class competition pool.”
It was made possible by an $86.7 million bond approved by voters in 2018. He said that bond has been crucial for getting new projects such as this off the ground.
“The voters really kind of wrapped their arms around this project,” Beal said. “We knew that the pool we had in the building didn’t meet the code for kids to dive at. It was reall limited to six lanes. You couldn’t really do much more than a dual meet. This one’s got eight lanes. They’re extra wide. They’re speed lanes which means the turbulence from the water doesn’t slow people down. It’s 14 lanes across so our kids can swim literally 14 lanes worth of practice all day long.”
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