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Pool supporters lapping up new facility

Dennis Webb
Post Independent Photo/Kara K. PearsonHoward Jay, coach of the Sopris Barracudas swim team, explains the nuances of the two new pools at the Glenwood Springs Community Center Thursday afternoon. One pool, with the slide in the background, will be the leisure pool, while the other will be used as a lap pool and for swim meets.
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Howard Jay circles the new pool at the Glenwood Springs Community Center like a shark waiting to strike.Or perhaps more like a Barracuda. Jay has been a coach for the Sopris Barracuda youth swim program since the mid 1980s. And ever since, he’s dreamed of Glenwood Springs getting its own indoor municipal pool.For Jay, the opening of the pool Friday will be “a dream come true, 19 years in the making,” he said.It’s a dream Jay says he has shared with countless other current and past community members.”It’s been such a group effort,” he said. “There is a whole community piece to it.”Starting Friday, the community’s efforts will be rewarded.For someone like Jay who has looked forward so long for the city pool effort to come to fruition, the last week of waiting might be the hardest. “I’ve offered to use it before (Friday), but she’s been busy,” Jay said with a grin last week, while gesturing to the city’s aquatic director, Kristi Brewer. The two gave a pre-opening tour of what the public can expect to find at the new facility once the ribbon is cut.There should be something for just about everyone, Jay and Brewer say. The pool features eight lanes with a state-of-the-art electronic timing system for racing and training, a one-meter diving board, and a separate play area with zero-depth entry, meaning waders can do as little as wet their toes.

A high roof and expansive windows offering views of Lookout Mountain give the pool an open feeling, and in the summer swimmers will able to enjoy a sundeck just outside the facility.The pool was designed to incorporate nets for water polo, and Jay and Brewer look forward to seeing what kind of interest might develop locally in the sport.The play area features a water slide tube with a spiraling metal staircase reaching its top, fountains in the floor designed to send gentle geysers up to splash bathers, and a colorful metal water wheel, buckets and other devices designed to fill with water high in the air and douse it on the heads of delighted youngsters. “Gadgets and Gizmos,” the contraptions are called.Tiles rise partway up the facility’s walls, changing from dark to light blue like water splashing up from the pool. The pool deck consists of concrete patterned and colored to look like stone, and even contains imprints shaped like fallen leaves.For many, the centerpiece of the new facility will be the main pool – all 300,000 gallons of it. A unique feature is a horizontal bulkhead that rises and lowers with hydraulics, and changes the length of lanes between 25 yards and 25 meters. Jay said high school meets require 25-yard pools, and summer league meets are measured in meters.At eight lanes, the pool is big enough to accommodate a number of activities at once, from diving, to lap swimming, to family-type use, Brewer said.A hydraulic chairlift offers easy entry into the pool for the disabled. A short walk away, a spa offers relaxation and therapy for up to 10 people at a time.In preparation for opening, Brewer conducted a 20-hour lifeguard training course at the Community Center pool Monday and Tuesday last week.People on treadmills and other cardiovascular equipment can watch the pool action from a balcony overlooking the pool. Brewer said the presence of weight machines and other exercise amenities in the community center offers the chance to incorporate water activities into a larger fitness program.Jay also sees the pool becoming a tourist draw. He’s already heard interest about holding high school district championships here.”Masters swimmers could be able to come here for a meet and then spend the weekend in Glenwood Springs,” he said.

Of course, the pool won’t replace Glenwood Springs’ world-famous Hot Springs Pool as a tourist draw. But Jay and Brewer see the two facilities as meeting different needs. Jay said he enjoys being able to swim outside in the Hot Springs Pool in the middle of winter, and appreciates that facility’s support for competitive swimming programs over the years. But the new pool will provide uniform lane lengths, a cooler water temperature appreciated by competitive swimmers, and a more comfortable environment for coaches standing at pool’s edge.It also takes pressure off the Hot Springs Pool, which so often is approached by the community to accommodate various pool activities.The Hot Springs Pool contributed $5,000 to the pool project, Jay said. Brewer said some of the people she is hiring also work at the Hot Springs Pool. And the two pools are sharing information about technical issues such as water treatment.Jay and any number of City Council members, city recreation staff and other community members have worked over the years to get a pool built. Tax measures were passed for a community center but the city couldn’t afford some of the features many citizens wanted, including a pool and theater. So it built a basic center with the hopes that those amenities could be added in time.A community theater remains a dream, whether it would be built at the center or elsewhere in town. But pool supporters gained enough monetary pledges to convince City Council to pay for it while fund-raising continues. The Let’s All Pledge (LAP) campaign has received $1.875 million in pledges but hopes to raise a total of $3.2 million by next November.The pool has gone through a change in architects, and those involved in its planning looked at all kinds of designs, even considering a 50-meter pool, before deciding on a facility that fit within the community’s budget.After all the twists and turns that efforts to build a pool have taken over the years, Jay likes what he sees of the finished product.”It certainly came out beautiful,” he said.”People I used to coach 15 years ago are coming back to see this,” Jay added.His eyes returned longingly to the water.

Five more days, Coach. Just five more days …Contact Dennis Webb: 945-8515, ext. 516dwebb@postindependent.comPool opening plansOpening-day activities for the new pool at the Glenwood Springs Community Center on Friday, Jan. 7, include:• A formal dedication at noon.• Free use of the pool and community center from 1-3 p.m.• Swimmin’ Cinema Friday evening, consisting of a family movie to be shown poolside.The opening day has a luau theme, complete with limbo and splash contests, swim races between the public and lifeguards, and crafts and free fish tattoos for kids. Beach balls will be given to the first 500 people to visit the pool over the weekend.


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