As more than 12,000 cubic yards of fill dirt create the foundations of the new Wellness and Aquatics Complex on the corner lot, two decades of frustration are finally buried.
A three-story building will house a gymnasium that can be converted to a 2,500-seat auditorium, seven fitness classrooms, faculty offices, cardio facilities, training and testing rooms, locker and shower facilities. A pool complex will include two 50-meter pools. One pool is designed for competitive swim events, multi-team water polo competitions and practice. A second pool is designed to support diving, physical educational programs, recreational swimming and instructional water safety programs. A third and smaller 25-meter therapy pool will support the multi-generational wellness programs offered at the existing facility.
SWC’s existing pools will be demolished this summer to make way for the new math, science and engineering building. SWC’s water polo and swim teams will temporarily practice in National City at the Las Palmas Pool.
Proposition R, a $389 million general bond approved by voters eight years ago, will fund the $52 million Wellness and Aquatic Complex. These new facilities are designed to support the entire South Bay community, along with SWC students, said Jim Spillers, dean of athletics.
SWC swimmers and water polo players expressed excitement over the aquatics facilities, though some said they were disappointed with the timing.
Krysdel Garate, 18, a nursing major, is a member of the women’s water polo and swim teams. She said moving the teams out during the competitive season was bad for the athletes. Swim coach Matt Ustaszewski agreed.
“It’s tough,” he said. “Our entire competitions are 25 yards. That’s the difference between short course and long course. At the community college level everything is short course, 25 yards. Las Palmas Pool does not have a 25-yard course. In a perfect world, our facility doesn’t close until the new facility opens.”
Ustaszewski said he hopes the new facilities will attract more and better swimmers.
“Our facilities will be head and shoulders above everyone in our conference,” he said.
Spillers said he is excited for the future.
“Once again we are going to have a visible facility that screams commitment to students and the community,” he said. “I believe that these facilities define community in community college.”
Public Information Officer Lillian Leopold said she was “ecstatic” about the new projects.
“I’ve seen (the corner) as the Christmas tree lot, I’ve seen it as the pumpkin patch,” she said. “It’s so nice that the college is going to realize the potential in that area and be even more welcoming for the community.”
SWC’s Wellness and Aquatics Complex will be managed by Metafit, a company specializing in high-intensity interval training, said Leopold. This will allow a health club sort of facility to be put in place for the community, she said, and allow the gym to run for longer hours and on weekends.