PASO ROBLES — On Monday, at 4 p.m., in front of an audience of alumni, administration, stakeholders, teachers and happy swimmers, Paso Robles Joint Unified School District broke ground on the new aquatics center that is projected to be finished in January of 2019.
It was a happy day for the swim community in Paso Robles. Each and every person in attendance had a smile from ear to ear as they were finally able to see a long-held dream begin to materialize in front of their eyes.
Duane McRoy, who has coached water polo and swimming at Paso Robles since 1996, recalled that when the school was first built in 1981, the original plans included two phases, the latter phase including plans for a pool, but because the enrollment was larger than expected, portable classrooms were brought in and there they have stood ever since.
“It just goes to show if you hang around with a dream long enough it can happen,” McRoy said. “It is mixed emotions because I think of the future and how this will impact not only our school but our community. But also a big part of my heart goes to all of these kids who competed in the past in the facilities that we had… All the sacrifices they made where they just went in and did it, you know, worked hard to compete. To see the alumni still involved in so many ways with this is just amazing, it is another reason why people love Paso Robles so much.”
One of the kids that McRoy was talking about is currently senior captain of the swim team, Gavin Hughes, who will never be able to swim in the new aquatic center. Hughes spoke during the ceremony which also featured Superintendent Chris Williams, head architect John Smith
“I’ve got a lot of friends that do a bunch of different sports,” Hughes said. “That is kind of the cool thing about high school. They have always had the opportunity to say to the group, ‘Come to the baseball field after school, it’s against Righetti, it’s a big game,’ or, ‘A-town is in town, we need to pack the stands.’”
Hughes went on to point out that in his entire swimming career he has had somewhere in the neighborhood of four home meets. He touched on never being able to sleep in his own bed before a big meet because the Municipal Pool (where PRHS currently swims) is unable to host a meet of any real consequence, but at the same time didn’t lose sight of the pool will mean for future Bearcats.
“My excitement is rooted in the tremendous opportunity that awaits this entire aquatics community,” he said.
The pool is being funded through Measure M, a $95 million bond that was passed with 57 percent of the votes in 2016. $5.7 million has been allocated toward the construction of an aquatic complex that will be open to not just students, but the entire community. Williams also touched on where the other money would be going, saying that the next project will be a 90 percent rebuild of the arts academy at Bauer Speck Elementary followed by a three-year project at Georgia Brown Elementary.
The new aquatic complex will hold two pools, one 50-meters and another warm-up pool that will be 25-yards. The complex will have two diving boards, stands, a classroom, an equipment room, changing rooms and restrooms.
After Measure M( $5.2 million), the district still needed to raise an additional $2.5 million dollars and their first goal was set at $750,000. So far they have raised just over 600,000 and are still looking to raise an additional $1.9 million in order to finish everything. The district has organized multiple fundraising events and will continue to try to raise the remaining funds. If interested in donating to the cause or to find more information regarding the aquatic complex, visit swimpaso.org.