Work concludes on pool renovations

Matt Olson, Reporter

Last summer, there were several large projects completed throughout the Newton High School campus. One of those projects was renovating the natatorium, which was in desperate need of repairs. Summer was the ideal time for this project for several reasons; school was not in session for the majority of the project, and it was completed before the swim team needed the pool for practices.

“There were some structural issues with the concrete decking that had to be addressed.  This was a very critical thing to be done for overall safety,” athletic director Brian Becker said. “Some of the piping and equipment also needed to be replaced, including the original bleachers.”

There have been plans to renovate the pool for over a year, but it was only able to begin this year due to complications. Because of this, the school’s maintenance staff had to reconstruct their original plans.

“The pool renovations have been needed for a while, and once the bond issue failed, Mr. Schaeffer worked this into the district’s capital improvement plan that was approved about a year ago,” Becker said.

After roughly five months of hard work on the pool, it is now renovated enough for the swim team to practice in it. The structural improvements were completed before the swim season began, but additional work outside of the pool is still needed.

“The pool is full of water and the work is 98% complete,” director of facilities and maintenance Chris Schaeffer said. “The pool was in service as of Nov. 17 [and will be] fully complete by mid December. The work is expected to last several decades.”

Though the remodeling was completed before the swim season started, there were still small adjustments that needed to be made. 

They ended up getting the pool remodel [completed] before high school swim practice [officially began],” senior Tryston Mitchell said. “[But] I know the club had to go to the Y to swim before it was finished.”

Members of the swim team are pleased with the renovations that were made and believed that they were a necessity. 

“I definitely think the pool needed remodeling,” Mitchell said. “It was falling apart and looking old and the bleachers were [partially] broken. [The renovations] make it look like we care about our facilities.”

As of Jan. 11, only just after the renovations were completed, the Newton Athletics twitter account posted a tweet explaining that the swim meet for that day was postponed due to chemical issues in the pool. It is believed that there was a chlorine imbalance in the water, which can be harmful to the swimmers.

“Chlorine can have harmful effects on the human body,” Mitchell said. “It is a relatively weak acid, but having it in large amounts can hurt not only our bodies but our suits and it will get in our eyes sometimes and in our mouth, so having an acid in the pool is not good. They didn’t want to risk it and just called it so we didn’t have to get in and worry about getting injured in some way. It also might damage the equipment in the water.”