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The Student-Run News Site of Westside High School in Omaha, Nebraska. Keeping you WIRED in to all things Westside.

Westside Wired

The Student-Run News Site of Westside High School in Omaha, Nebraska. Keeping you WIRED in to all things Westside.

Westside Wired

The Student-Run News Site of Westside High School in Omaha, Nebraska. Keeping you WIRED in to all things Westside.

Westside Wired

Starting renovations

Westside makes a splash with new facility announcements
Rendering courtesy of the Westside Foundation
The architectural rendering of the proposed new aquatic facility at Westside features a cool down/warm up area that also serves as the dive tank.

Westside announced a renovation, including a new pool, as part of a privately funded $34 million campaign headed by the Westside Foundation.

Many look forward to the renovations, including head swim coach Andy Rider, especially considering the age of the pool.

“It’s something that we’ve wanted for a long time,” Rider said. “It will allow us to not only swim in something new and fresh, but it will benefit our swimmers. Not every pool is the same, and this one’s going to be really fast.”

The experience around the new pool will be better for everyone too. This means reduced humidity in the pool facility.

Both Rider and  physical education director Todd Johnson were asked for their input and worked with the Westside Foundation and the school district. 

“I would say excited is an understatement,” Johnson said. “We’ve known about this and we’ve been involved in the planning.”

The conversation around a new pool has been discussed for the last 10 to 15 years and fundraising is already underway.

“We’ve had an idea that it’s coming,” Johnson said. “The fact that it’s public now and we’re three-fourths of the way there with the fundraising just makes it seem even closer.”

The Westside Foundation let them dream big when they were in the planning stages. One of the things they wanted was a bigger pool with eight lanes instead of six for larger meets.

The new pool will also have a cool down area, which means cutting down and possibly eliminating breaks. Rider and Johnson also hoped for improved filtration.

“The big push was the filtration system,” Rider said. “Not only the water, but the air as well. The air quality is really bad in our current pool, and the new system is going to filter all that out, make it a lot cleaner and make it a lot easier for athletes to breathe.”

Johnson said that this remodel is very critical, not just for the physical education department, but also for the rest of Westside and the community.

“This pool has been well maintained for 60 some odd years but if you get underneath it, it’s on its last legs,” Johnson said.

Rider and Johnson are putting plans in place for swim meets, practices and classes when the pool is scheduled to be torn out. 

“If all things come together like we want, we will start demolition of the pool and the blue gym right around March 1st,” Johnson said. “If that happens, we would get January and February with our swim classes… we’ll have to keep some stuff outside, and then turn it into a regular P.E. class.”

Johnson is also working with Swim Omaha and the aquatics director at The College of Saint Mary’s.

“I’m communicating with Mykenzie Leehy, she’s the aquatics director at College of Saint Mary and she’s a former student of mine,” Johnson said. “She’s a swim coach with Swim Omaha and she’s going to help me get some water so I can finish out my lifeguarding classes.”

As for the varsity swim team, Johnson and Rider are making plans as well.

“Our club, Swim Omaha, has access to Millard North, Bellevue East, Ralston and they’re working with some Council Bluffs pools as well,” Johnson said. “[Because of this], they’re working on relocating our varsity team.” 

This pool and the overarching high school Life Complex could not be possible without the Westside Foundation.

“The Westside Foundation is heading this and Terry Hanna deserves a lot of credit,” Johnson said. “I think the alumni of Westside are really proud of what Westside has been, what it is now and what the future is.”

Principal Dr. Dostal also shares in the excitement over the pool renovation.

“I am [excited] for a number of different reasons,” Dostal said. “It’s an old pool. And I’m excited about the opportunities that we have with the new pool, specifically as it relates to our swimming curriculum, potential youth lessons in swimming. And the opportunities that we might have with adaptive physical education, swimming as well.”

While the renovation will not be able to accommodate a 50 yard pool with a separate diving well, the floor of the new pool will have some movement features.

“The shallowest this current pool gets is four feet and we’re going to hopefully have a moveable floor where we can adjust the height so we can be more effective teaching swim lessons, and it’ll be safer,” Johnson said.

Even though it will not be an olympic sized pool, it will be made of Myrtha, the same material as olympic pools.

“The shell of the pool will be guaranteed, I think, for 75 years,” Johnson said. “They made all the Olympic trials pools that were here in Omaha and they make the pools for the Olympics.”

Johnson is very hopeful for what the future will bring after the dust from the construction settles.

“It’s going to make some really really talented kids think more about wanting to come to Westside,” Johnson said. “It’s going to offer something that our community can use for many decades to come.”

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About the Contributor
Daniel Vanourney, Lance Staff
I am Daniel Vanourney and this is my second year on Lance. I love movies and pop culture. I also love music and Halloween.
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