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Crowd welcomes Santa Ynez Valley aquatic center pool parts |

Posted by | March 6, 2017 | Aquatic Center

Mike Hodgson mhodgson@leecentralcoastnews.com Mar 3, 2017 Updated Mar 4, 2017

Pieces of the 2016 U.S. Olympic trials swimming pool that will form the heart of a new aquatic, wellness and sports medicine facility were greeted by an estimated 200 people Friday when they arrived at Old Mission Santa Inés in Solvang.Three large flatbed rigs hauled the pool parts inside shipping containers 1,700 miles from Omaha, Nebraska, where they’d been stored for the Santa Ynez Valley Community Aquatics Foundation.A planned caravan of cars escorting the trucks from Buellton to the celebration never came about.“We couldn’t get a parade permit, so we just brought one truck through,” explained Bruce Porter, a member of the foundation’s executive committee.But the crowd was no less enthusiastic about the arrival of the pieces that will make up a two-pool aquatics center to replace the Santa Ynez Valley Union High School pool, but will be available to everyone in the Valley.“It’s been there 50 years, and it looks like it,” Porter said of the existing high school pool, recalling how he gave the school district two choices. “We can fill it in and make it part of the agriculture program, or we can replace it.”He credited 10-time Olympic swimming medalist Gary Hall Jr. with having the vision to see how the facility could become an aquatics program, much more than just a swimming pool.The new state-of-the-art pool, built by Myrtha Pools using plastic-covered stainless steel panels, was purchased by the Aquatics Foundation after raising $1 million in donations.Hall was ill and unable to attend the celebration, but Valley native and three-time Olympic water polo medalist Kami Craig was there and talked about jumping in the high school pool Thursday with the varsity team for a swim set.“It reminded me how truly special it is to come from a community such as ours,” Craig said. “It was my time spent in the community aquatics programs that made me the athlete and the person I am today.“Without the pool being there, I would never have had the opportunity to succeed,” she said, adding the new pool will give other young swimmers “the opportunity to be inspired and dream big.”Also called to the stage was the entire SYVUHS girls water polo team, which just became the first aquatics team from the school to capture a CIF championship.Get news headlines sent daily to your inbox Sign Up!Porter acknowledged all the agencies and organizations that contributed funds to buy the pool but said another $4 million is needed to install it.He called on Santa Barbara County 3rd District Supervisor Joan Hartmann and 37th District Assemblywoman Monique Limón as well as everyone in the crowd to help.Afterward, both Hartmann and Limón said they were unsure how the county and state could help.But Limón said she would put a link in her newsletter for people to make donations, and Hartmann said she had a few ideas but none she could talk about yet.“I come from the school board world, and so often kids dream of a pool,” Limón said. “To see this is really neat. There’s really a lot of energy here.”

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