SAN JUAN – While construction is underway, PSJA school district leadership officially broke ground on two swimming pool facilities that will help get more students into the water to compete, train and learn water sports.
The two swimming pool facilities will be located at PSJA Early College High School and PSJA Memorial Early College High School to serve the San Juan and Alamo communities.
Jonathan Landero has been the aquatic director for the school district for two years. At his previous post served as the swimming coach for the entire district.
Landero said one of the biggest obstacles coaches encounter is pool time. There is not enough space for the amount of students that want to swim.
Currently the average pool time use is eight kids per lane serving four high schools and eight junior highs. Now they will be able to get more students in the water.
“Now that we have these pools,” Landero said “We will be able to serve the kids we already do on an individual feeder pattern but we will also be able to serve the elementary kids.”
The pools will also be available for public use during the summer time for classes and for people of all ages.
The pools will be outdoor pools but will have a canopy to protect from the elements. They will consist of 10 lanes in the competitive pool and three lanes in the instruction pool. Both will be 25 meters deep and the facilities will have a spectator seating area for 175 people.
The swimming facilities will also include a 6,989-square-foot building with a large multipurpose classroom, dressing room, showers with lockers, restroom facilities and an office area.
The pools will also be ADA accessible so students that are handicapped can use the pool as well.
For Superintendent Dr. Daniel King, it is important to have places where young people can exercise.
“We compete with this thing right here,” King said as he held his phone up in the air. “Research shows today's kids are not getting up and out, they're not moving enough and that has a tremendous effect on their life outcome.”
The PSJA school district serves almost 33,000 students and what the school board has committed to is getting young people to start moving. The current pool which was constructed in partnership with the City of Pharr is used to capacity. King said they are not even close to filling the need to get all students in the water.
At one point the school district was trying to get at least second graders in the water but that was also impossible with high school teams using the pool to train for competition.
The pools will be the final project King oversees as superintendent of schools as he is set to retire at the end of September. Over the course of his 12-year tenure there has been over half a billion dollars of construction completed at PSJA ISD.
Construction for both facilities is scheduled to be completed by start of the 2020 school year and will cost $11.8 million.