The Kern High School District has announced that it will be starting construction on an Olympic-size, 27-lane pool facility just north of Independence High School. The district will start construction on Thursday as part of a groundbreaking ceremony.
This will be KHSD’s first pool facility in recent history. Bakersfield High School built a pool in 1919 but it was removed in 1938 to make room for a gym, according to the district.
“This will be a tremendous help to us. We need these lanes,” said Stan Greene, school support services director for the district. “This will be a regulation facility where we will be able to appropriately host any swim meet.”
Greene said the estimated $14 million Kern Aquatic Complex will be made up of an 18-lane main pool as well as a nine-lane warm-down pool. It will also include a diving well.
Other features include stadium seating that can fit more than 800 people, lighting for nighttime activities, a classroom for instruction and meetings and a large grass area for team encampments.
The facility is expected to be completed by the end of 2019.
For many years, Greene said the district has been partnering with Bakersfield College, the City of Bakersfield, the North of the River Recreation and Park District and other organizations for the use of their pools, as the district currently has none of their own.
Greene said the partnerships served the district well enough at first. However, as Kern County continues to grow and more schools have been been built, it has put more strain on the existing pool facilities, especially those on the west side of Bakersfield.
“Not having enough lanes is a tremendous issue for our swimmers,” he said. “Each year, we have about 1,200 students in the district sharing eight pools and 82 lanes. It’s awful for our kids and our coaches.”
Greene said there are often issues of too many students in lanes or teams sharing pools. Transportation is also an issue, as students from some schools have to be bused to a facility that is not close to them. For instance, Greene said, Golden Valley High School students are often bused to Garces Memorial High School on the other side of town.
Marc Urmston, head coach for Liberty High School, said he’s excited about the prospect of a new aquatic center and believes it is long overdue.
“It’s a start,” he said. “It’s going to be great for the community and it’s going to relieve some pressure off the other pools. I think it will be super nice and top notch.”
Despite having new pools, Greene said the district will continue to have partnerships with other organizations to be able to provide as many pools as needed for students.
A second smaller facility could be coming in the near future as well. Greene said the district is in the design phase on that project and is still looking for property. Around $21 million from the $280 million Measure K, which voters passed in 2016, was set aside to fund the pools.
Greene said the hope is that once the facilities are completed, it will open up more opportunities for students, such as a water polo program.
“We’re really excited for what’s in the future for the district,” he said.