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The Paly Voice

The Student News Site of Palo Alto High School

The Paly Voice

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The Paly Voice

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Pool to close next school year

Palo Alto High School’s plans to construct a $20 million athletics facility have created unforeseen obstacles that will cause the school’s pool to close for the entire 2014-15 school year, according to a construction manager.

Tom Hodges, the manager of the Palo Alto Unified School District’s bond program, made the announcement at a Facilities Steering Committee meeting on Oct. 23.  While the initial hope was to keep the pool undisturbed, many of the pool’s utilities extend toward the Quad and will consequently be interrupted during the construction of the new athletic facility, rendering the pool inoperative, Hodges told committee members.

The construction on Palo Alto High School's new athletic facility will interrupt the school's pool utilities, causing the pool to be closed for the 2014-2015 school year, according to bond manager Tom Hodges. The construction was not initially meant to disrupt the pool. The facility's 14 month-long construction will begin in June. Photo by Tolbert Design Architects.
The construction on Palo Alto High School’s new athletic facility will interrupt the school’s pool utilities, causing the pool to be closed for the 2014-2015 school year, according to bond manager Tom Hodges. The construction was initially supposed to leave the pool in operation. The facility’s 14 month-long construction will begin in June. Image by Tolbert Design Architects.

With the pool out of order for a year, changes will be made to school programs that utilize the pool, according to Athletic Director Earl Hansen and Assistant Principal Jerry Berkson.

Paly’s water polo and swim practices, games and meets will all be relocated to aquatic facilities around Palo Alto. No definite plans have been made as of yet, but the considered facilities include those of Stanford University, Gunn High School and Terman Middle School, according to Hansen.

The school is working to find the best-suited alternatives to the Paly pool, according to Hansen.

“We’re trying to get the best places we can that are convenient, too,” Hansen said. “The more options we have [to choose from], the better we can accommodate our kids.”

In addition, there will not be a swim unit for Physical Education next year given the circumstances. PAUSD requires freshmen and new students to pass a swim test, and students need to take 20 credits-worth of Physical Education to graduate from Paly, according the school’s course catalog. Consequently, students will have to make up the swim unit in the following years to meet district requirements, according to Physical Education Instructional Supervisor Peter Diepenbrock.

Student swimmers and water polo players expressed concerns with their respective seasons next year.

“Transportation will be a huge hassle, especially with all the meets,” sophomore swimmer and water polo player Sophia Xu said.

While acknowledging the merits of the athletics facility, which will include a new strength and conditioning room, wrestling room, gyms and locker rooms, students still have issues with the lack of a home team pool.

“It’s going to be hard for the duration of the season, especially not having the Paly pool for meets and competitions, which makes each meet an away meet,” senior swimmer Karina Goot said. “At the end, though, it’s for the better because the facilities are going to be much nicer for the school as a whole, and the locker rooms and gym are going to look great.”

Students also believe the pool closing will disrupt the usual flow of the season.

“It [the facilities construction] is good for the future, but … it’ll be a loss for seniors at their last swim season, as well as the rest of the team,” junior swimmer Ryan Drover said.

However, despite these drawbacks, Hansen believes the ultimate outcome is promising.

“Next year’s going to be hard,” Hansen said. “The rewards are going to be great.… It’s going to be a great facility, but for one year, it’ll be a mess.”

Berkson shares Hansen’s sentiments.

“It’s going to be a major inconvenience for one year for a lot of people because you’ve got parking involved, you’ve got people not being able to swim at home and you’ve got to travel somewhere for practices,” Berkson said. “But a year from then, we’ll have a pretty darn nice facility.”

Nonetheless, Drover is confident that the Paly teams are strong enough to face these future difficulties.

“In the end, whatever happens, we have the team that can get through it to succeed,” Drover said.

The 14 month-long construction of the athletic facility, funded by the local Peery family’s donation of $20 million, is set to begin in June.

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  • F

    FanDec 6, 2013 at 4:16 am

    Gunn will use their pool as they should. They will have it booked each afternoon after school for 4 hours. That means Paly wouldn’t have access until 7:30pm. Then you have two genders who go 2 hours each — last team doesn’t get out until 11:30pm.

    I don’t think so. Gunn is out.

    Terman is a joke. You can’t play water polo in that pool. It is not regulation size, it has a shallow end and you would only be able to have 1 team at time if it were all deep…so that would be 8 hours of practice. Again, I don’t think so.

    That leaves Stanford.

    Pool rental at Stanford (if available) is at least $100+/hour. Between the two genders, that would be at least $400/day just for practice rentals. 10 weeks = $20K. Add in the same for swimming – 4 hours/day. Do the math. $40,000.

    How much would it cost to temporarily re-route the gas lines and electrical service for the pool? Far less than $40K for sure.

    Be smart Paly and figure it out.

  • P

    Palo Alto ParentNov 12, 2013 at 2:38 am

    Yes, I agree with Ethan. Where are these teams going to go? Figure out how to keep the Paly pool open otherwise you’re going to have some real mad athletes, parents, and other teams!

    Also Ms. Diorio, Earl Hansen (who has no experience coaching water sports), and the Paly Admin need to realize that moving to another pool is not that simple given the nature of swimming and water polo. Pool space in other schools is limited and those schools will end up squishing everyone into one pool making it harder for our athletes to train. Where is Danny Dye’s (Head Coach of Swimming) opinion in this article?? I’m sure he has something to say about pool space and capacity. Other schools like Gunn probably don’t want to cram us in either because that ruins the experience for their athletes too!

    It is essentially $20 million going toward teams like basketball that use the gym. The swim and water polo teams gets NOTHING out of this except a closed home pool and the inconvenience of crammed lanes and away meets/games every week. Totally unfair. They won’t even buy proper pool covers for them.

    Don’t announce the construction until you have EVERYTHING figured out Ms. Diorio!

    • S

      StudentNov 12, 2013 at 2:57 am

      Totally agree. It’s easy to move a basketball team because all you need are a couple $200 hoops, but moving a water polo team requires a whole body of water. Must be impossible to do scrimmages in a shared pool where you are only allowed half the space.

  • E

    Ethan LookNov 11, 2013 at 11:16 pm

    Stanford is too expensive, there aren’t enough hours in the afternoon for Gunn to support 8 swim/water polo teams in a season, and Terman is simply too small to support any of the teams… How’s that going to work?

  • P

    Palo Alto ParentNov 11, 2013 at 10:41 pm

    As a parent of a swimmer and water polo
    player, I highly disagree with this decision. It was never part of the plan to
    shut the pool down and the water polo players and swimmers had no voice in this
    decision! All I can say is I am extremely disappointed with the Paly
    administration. Our athletes have hard enough lives already, and to shut the
    pool down for the season just makes it harder on them.