CASPER, Wyo. — Some high school swimming team members, their parents and coaches want a pool built at Natrona County High School.
They attended the Natrona County School District Board of Trustees Monday, Sept. 9 meeting to voice this wish.
Their comments followed the school board’s discussion of the pool proposal and a separate proposal to build a bridge connecting the Mustangs Athletic Community Center and the main NCHS building during their Monday work session.
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Grace Roberts, senior captain of the NCHS swim team, said that having a pool at their own high school would benefit swim team members’ academics because it would save them from having to spend so much time driving back and forth across town to practice at Kelly Walsh.
She added that some swim team members are quite competitive and sharing space with the KW swim team was not ideal.
Kelsey Elrod, a junior on the NC swim team echoed some of her teammate’s comments.
“All these girls here tonight are here for a reason,” Elrod said. “It’s very important for us to have something that is our own.”
“We wouldn’t have to commute across town. It’s kind of hard, especially when you have an older vehicle and it drinks gas like it is nothing…just to get to the pool by 6 am (for practice).”
She also said it was important for her from a competitive perspective as well.
“I look forward to the day that I can watch Natrona County girls compete in a Natrona County pool,” Roberts said.
Mary Scmidt says she is the mother of a KW high school swimmer.
“It’s dangerous to stick 100 kids in one pool,” she said.
She explained that having to rely on KW pool space for multiple teams made that pool too crowded.
Rachel Collie says she has two children who swim.
“I think it is a life long sport,” she said, adding that swimming has social, physical and emotional benefits.
Collie added that having the pool would be a benefit to more than just NCHS students. Since the school district was proposing opening the pool to the community when not in use by NCHS, it would be a benefit to club swimming teams.
Olivia Monet-Francis, a freshman on the NC swim team, also attended the meeting.
“It has been rough having to get up and travel 15 minutes to get in a pool that isn’t an NC pool,” she said. “We’re a family as a swim team, and I’m pretty sure I speak for the whole swim team when I say, we need this pool.”
Diving coach Spencer Mosley said that many of the high schools across the state have better facilities than in Casper.
“As Casper, we can do better than that,” he said.
Jarvis Bliss, an NC physical education teacher, asked how many of the school board members swam in the old NC pool.
A number of the trustees raised their hands in response to this question.
“In light of where we’ve been, without a pool at all…I really appreciate all the efforts to bring the pool proposal forward at all,” Bliss said. “You don’t sit in an easy chair and I want you to know you are appreciated.”
Using facilities such as the YMCA pool for P.E. classes had problems, he said, including the temperature of the pool.
“We go in and we end up in two lanes, half of what we had before,” Bliss added. “Half of what we had before.”
The school board has not yet voted on whether to get the proposed pool project underway, but could hold a first vote do so in the next couple of board meetings.
Trustee Debbie McCullar said at the end of the meeting that it was nice to see so many people come out to express their thinking to the school board.
School board Vice Chair Dana Howie added, “We’re listening with all our heart.”
“Kids who are involved in just about any activity also excel academically,” Trustee Clark Jensen said.
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