The NISD Board of Trustees has approved the design of the Northside Swim Center, effectively giving the green light on a project that will make NISD a nationally-renowned destination for swimming competitions and provide desperately needed ‘water space' for Northside athletes.
Construction of the Northside Swim Center - a 50-meter, Olympic-size outdoor swimming pool and 25-meter diving pool - is expected to begin at the Farris Athletic Complex by May 2011 and be completed by the summer of 2013, said Vernon Dunagin, Assistant Superintendent for Facilities & Operations.
Both swimming pools will be built adjacent to the existing Northside Natatorium at Loop 1604 and Hausman Road, creating a mega swim center that will be the only one of its kind in the central United States. Currently, similar facilities exist only in California and Florida.
The development of the Swim Center is the result of a unique partnership between Northside ISD and Bexar County. In May 2008, Bexar County voters approved a tax referendum to provide $7 million in funding, and in May 2010, NISD voters approved a bond issue to fund a matching $7 million.
The swim center will attract major regional and national swim competitions, which in turn will draw thousands of athletes, coaches and their families to San Antonio. These visitors will rent cars, stay in hotels, shop, and dine in restaurants, making a multi-million dollar impact on San Antonio's economy annually, according to the Bexar County Athletic Facilities Committee.
According to USA Swimming, the Northside Swim Center can expect to host five large regional and national meets per year.
The majority of the time, when the center isn't being used for a competition, it will be used by the NISD Aquatics
program, which is desperately in need of additional pool space.
"This partnership is truly a win-win," NISD Superintendent John Folks said. "It gives San Antonio a swimming venue that will be a boon to our economy, and it allows NISD's aquatics program to keep pace with growth."
According to a 40-year agreement recently signed by NISD and Bexar County, NISD will be responsible for the maintenance and operations of the facilities.
The outdoor swim center will feature shaded seating for 2,400 spectators as well as high-tech timing, lighting, sound and video scoreboard systems. Locker room facilities will accommodate as many as 1,200 athletes.
The diving/warm-pool will be 25 meters in length and will give NISD a second location for its diving program. Currently all divers, no matter which high school they attend, must practice at the George Block Aquatics Center at Loop 410 and Culebra Road.
The facility will meet both international and national standards set by USA Swimming.
Scott Zolinksi, NISD's Director of Aquatics, said the outdoor swim center will be heated and will serve as a year-round training site for four of the district's high schools. The District will study the feasibility of using solar power to heat the pools.
Currently six of the district's 10 high schools share water, deck, and locker room space at the Northside Natatorium on 1604, Zolinski said.
"This means team size is limited right now because to train effectively and successfully we can only have so many swimmers in a lane," Zolinski said. "This puts us at a disadvantage compared to other schools that don't have the growth issues NISD has. That will soon be changing."
During construction, parking and events at the Northside Natatorium and the Farris Athletic Complex will not be affected, Dunagin said.