David Douglas High trades pool for new Aquatic Center

See what’s replacing the 50-year-old pool. It’s pretty cool …

Many supporters arrive for the dedication of the new David Douglas Aquatic Center.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Waiting for the dedication ceremony to get underway in 95° weather, many David Douglas School District officials, students, families, and supporters looked as if they wished they could be in the pool at the new Aquatic Center, instead being where they were – standing outside the front doors – on August 4.

The newest public swimming pool in outer East Portland is sited about 30 feet south of the old building. Inside and out, the new facility looks impressive.

David Douglas School District (DDSD) Superintendent of Education Don Grotting tells why the new Aquatic Center was built.

“I’ve just completed my fourth year as superintendent of this district,” said David Douglas School District (DDSD) Superintendent of Education Don Grotting as he began his opening remarks. “This is a great place to be!”

The aquatic center was included in the $50 million bond measure presented to the community; Grotting said most communities wouldn’t have even considered, let alone agreed, to make a new aquatic center part of the specified school district improvements.

“But in the short time I’ve been here, I’ve gotten to know how much swimming means to this community,” Grotting said. “I see a lot of folks here who have swum in the old pool facility. I think a lot of the reason we are able to pass our bond was because of people who supported the swimming in this community. Thank you very much.”

The David Douglas Board of Education had originally priced out the cost of refurbishing the old swim center – the odd-looking building with the roll-up glass “garage doors” on the south side. But, estimates for the job started at $3 million. Instead, they approved the all-new $7.8 million facility.

DDSD Board Member Frieda Christopher commends the Bond Committee for recommending building the new pool.

“This bond was approved with one of the highest percentages of approval we’ve seen,” said school board member Frieda Christopher. “Now, the people the community can enjoy this marvelous facility.

“I’ve been around here for a long time,” Christopher said. “In 1991 we talked about fixing this swimming pool. I didn’t realize at the time that it would take longer than 20 years to get this fabulous facility, but it’s now here.”

This building is dedicated to the school’s swim program future, says DDHS Swim Coach Jim Bowe.

DDHS Swim Coach Jim Bowe was up next, and thanked all who supported the school’s new pool.

“The whole reason we’re trying to build this new facility is to give our current kids a great experience, like we did in the 1970s,” Bowe said. “For me, it’s been a great learning experience, about the history and excellence of our program in the past.

Bowe then introduced DDHS senior Alana Pham, who has participated in their program, to talk about the swim program’s future.

“I have been involved in the David Douglas aquatic program for nearly half my life now,” Pham began. “To swimmers and water polo players, this new aquatic center brings a new energy for us that we haven’t had in quite a while. As students we feel really blessed to have this new facility, and we are really excited that we get the opportunity to create a new era in swimming and water polo.”

DDHS senior Alana Pham gives a student’s perspective her school’s brand new Aquatic Center.

“There have been a lot of unforgettable memories created in our old pool next door,” Pham went on. “And, there been many traditions created and champions made there within the last 50 years. We hope that we can create new traditions for future generations of swimmers and water polo players to come.”

With scissors in hand, the new DDHS Aquatic Center is dedicated by swimmers, past and present.

DDHS Principal John Bier chats with a swim team supporter.

“Our new Aquatic Center is important to the mission of the school because athletics is a really important part of the overall education picture,” said DDHS Principal John Bier.

“Research shows that kids who are involved in activities that can improve their GPA,” Bier told East Portland News. “And, swimming is a pretty special sport when it comes to discipline, and commitment. This carries over into the classroom. It also helps students expand their pool of friends – no pun intended!”

Students try out their new pool, just after its dedication.

As the festivities were underway, Coach Jim Bowe noted that DDHS swim program has had a “long and proud swimming tradition”, producing 28 state championship swim teams (14 boys; 14 girls) and 10 state championship water polo teams (6 boys; 4 girls). David Douglas swimmers have won 81 individual state championships (48 boys; 36 girls).

The new pool is larger, with eight swim lanes compared to six in the old pool. The new pool uses the “Defender Filtration” system and is sanitized using sodium bicarbonate chlorine (liquid chlorine) and a new Ultra Violet system.

The new pool has more than twice as many shower stalls, and includes one ADA-compliant shower.

“New pool also has two family changing rooms, with a bathroom stall and shower in both,” Bowe said.

Time for a game of water polo.

The Monday-Friday weekly summer schedule:

6:15 to 8 am – adult lap swim
9:30 am to 12:30 p.m. – certified youth swim lessons for all levels
12:30 to 1:30 pm – adult lap swim
1:45 to 3:45 pm – public recreation ($2 for students, $3 for adults)
4:30 to 7 pm – swim team practices
7:15 to 8 pm – youth swim lessons (Monday and Wednesday), masters swim team (Tuesday and Thursday), family night recreation (Friday – $5 for entire family)

For more information contact the pool at (503) 261-8378.

© 2014 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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