The new Buncombe County Schools Aquatic Center officially opened on January 24. The 17,380 square foot facility is located on the TC Roberson High School campus across from the football stadium and adjacent to the tennis courts. It will serve the schools in Buncombe County as well as the Asheville City schools.
The $6.24 million pool replaces the 50-year-old Zeugner pool which has been plagued with leaks and maintenance issues for the past few years. No specific plans were available regarding the future of the Zeugner pool facility.
The new aquatic center houses a 10-lane, 400,000-gallon, climate-controlled pool. Numerous energy efficient features have been designed into the center which also includes a sound system and state-of-the-art timing and scoreboard. Seating is available for more than 400 spectators.
Several local leaders spoke at the Jan. 24 ribbon cutting, including Dr. Tony Baldwin, superintendent of the Buncombe County Schools, Ann Franklin, chairwoman of the BCS Board of Education, Brownie Newman, chairman of the Buncombe County Commissioners, Paul Vest, president and CEO of the YMCA of western North Carolina, and David Ball, district athletics specialist for Buncombe County Schools.
Funding for the new aquatic center came from the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners. Commissioner Newman told the assembled crowd that “we’re really excited to see it come online after many years of being discussed.” He added, “it’s going to serve our community well for many years to come.”
Newman said that while the Board of Commissioners funded the new aquatic center, the School Board took a leadership role. When the project was in jeopardy of being delayed, over 100 students attended a commissioners’ meeting. The student athletes spoke about the importance of swimming in their lives. They also cited the positive impact that sports have on students’ performance in school.
Dr. Baldwin told the audience, which included high school swim teams from all of the Buncombe County schools and Asheville High, that the pool’s initial aim is to support local school swim teams, and he thanked those who helped make the pool a reality.
While the primary users of the pool will be local school swim teams, Baldwin mentioned a program that will be supported in conjunction with the YMCA. The Safety Around Water program teaches children how to perform a sequenced set of skills to give them confidence in and around water and reduce the risk of drowning.
“We’re looking at the facility serving as a host to every child in Buncombe County and Asheville City Schools. We’d like to ‘drown proof’ a generation of children,” Baldwin said.
An inaugural swim meet was held following the ribbon cutting. TC Roberson High School went on to win the event, scoring 1,026 points in 22 events. Asheville High finished second with 752 points and Reynolds High School third with 516 points.
The pool has ten, 25-yard, lanes and can also be used perpendicularly for 25-meter competitions. While the pool was designed primarily as a competition pool for high school events, accommodations were made for multi-purpose uses such as swim lessons, training programs, physical education, Masters swimming competitions, therapy, and other public and semi-public uses.