Louisville’s Central High School principal Daniel Withers did something Thursday morning that hasn’t been done at the school for over a decade.
He went for a swim.
When the pool closed in 2000 it was serving well over 1,000 people a month, according to Metro Parks, which last managed the pool. The pool is only the second JCPS pool—the other one is located at Shawnee High School—serving the estimated thousands of middle and high school swimmers in the district.
“We see several hundred swimmers a week at Shawnee so we’re hoping to expand our numbers everywhere with this new facility,” says JCPS aquatic coordinator Jennifer Brain Cheek.
Cheek says there are only a small handful of pools the district uses for practice and competition. Aside from Shawnee High, JCPS also uses the Mary T. Meagher Aquatic Center and some YMCA pools, she says.
“It’s a tight fit. Generally, our students are having to do swim practices at eight-o-clock at night or other inopportune times for them,” Cheek says.
When compared to some neighboring states like Indiana and Ohio, the number of pools in Kentucky available to students is significantly lower, say Kentucky High School Athletic Association officials who were also on hand during Thursday’s announcement.
The 25-yard pool will also offer a number of public classes that will begin in September and will include water aerobics and lap-swim times. The center will also be available to area elementary schools that will have time available for swim lessons.
“Our community will benefit, thousands of Jefferson County residents will benefit from this project,” says JCPS superintendent Donna Hargens.
JCPS board chair Diane Porter says there were other options for the pool in the area, but several community members wanted to the pool located at Central High, where it’s been since the early 1970s.
“Persistent is a word I do know and those that work with me know that no is not an acceptable answer sometimes. Opening the pool at Central High School, the answer had to be yes,” Porter says.
Principal Withers was among the student swimmers that took the first lap Thursday. While he finished last, and well behind the others, he received the strongest encouragement from the crowd.