The new $6 million Pattonville Aquatic Complex is making a splash at Pattonville High School in Maryland Heights.
Earlier this month, the schools' swim and dive teams conducted a watery ribbon cutting in the pool at the school campus, 2497 Creve Coeur Mill Road.
The pool is the first in the Pattonville School District. For more than 30 years, the district has used the Bridgeton Community Center indoor pool for swimming classes and water sports.
The district was one of the few public school districts in West County to not have a swimming pool when construction began in the summer of 2011.
"It is very needed, because any of our kids who wanted to access swimming almost entirely had to rely on public facilities in the past," Pattonville Superintendent Michael Fulton said.
The two-day opening celebration included an open swim for the community and a swim/dive meet for alumni members of the Pattonville swimming and diving teams.
Former swim coaches John Hamilton and Bill Rinesmith served as honorary coaches for the meet. Rinesmith started the Pattonville swim team in 1965 and coached for 38 years before retiring from teaching in 1997. Hamilton coached from 1976 until he retired in 2003, but also coached a few seasons during retirement.
The pool was among school improvements and repairs funded by voters through the passage of Proposition K, a $41 million no tax rate increase capital improvements bond issue on the November 2010 ballot.
That bond issue also funded improvement projects that included replacing the stadium and installing an artificial turf field at Pattonville High.
The 31,300-square-foot aquatic complex includes:
• A 25-meter pool with 11 swimming lanes.
• A separate diving area with one-, three-, and five-meter diving platforms. The separate area allows both diving and swim practice to take place at the same time.
• Two locker rooms, two family changing rooms, an athletic training facility, a classroom area and a multipurpose room for physical education classes or other athletics and activities needs.
• Seating for nearly 400 spectators.
• An electronic replay system to let divers view and critique their dives.
• A regenerative media filter system that will save about 250,000 gallons of water a year.
Pattonville High School Principal Joe Dobrinic agreed the aquatic complex will make a huge difference, especially to the 1,700 students in grades 9 to 12.
The new pool fulfilled a wish repeatedly voiced by students, parents and other district residents for many years, Dobrinic said.
"Especially for kids who choose to start swimming at a younger age or want to join a club, the community benefits by our having a large indoor facility," Dobrinic said.
The district has entered into an agreement with two clubs, the Parkway Swim Club and the Clayton Diving Alliance, to provide swimming and diving programs for children and youth who live within the district.
The district plans to recoup its operating expenses by renting the pool to private swim and diving clubs, Lindenwood University and other organizations in the community.