The new Olympic-sized pool is all but guaranteed to help swimmers break records, says the guy who set records in the old pool.
The expanded Huntsville Aquatic Center will enable the city to host events that boost the economy, luring competitors from across the country.
But of equal priority is serving the needs of local residents. Hence, even as construction continues elsewhere, the Huntsville Aquatic Center – the facility formerly known as Brahan Spring Park Natatorium – has already opened a pool to the public that will be used for instruction and therapy.
The intention is to assure the Aquatic Center can become, as Brenda Hall said of her late husband’s connection to the now-closed James Williams Aquatic Center, “just a huge part of his life.”
Chris Hall was hit by a drunk driver in 2005 and doctors predicted he would live only two more years. Instead, he began water therapy three times a week before his passing in 2016.
“His doctors said they gave so much credit for his living so long and doing so well to the therapy he got in the pool,” Brenda Hall said. “He snorkeled and he actually went scuba diving.”
When architects began work designing the new aquatic center, they consulted with Hall for his input in construction.
The Instructional pool is 36-feet wide by 75-feet long, with a shallow end of three feet and the deep end of seven feet. There is a ramp with handrails that leads down to the water as well as stairs and an ADA accessible chair lift. There are therapy jets in one area and the pool is heated to 90 degrees. It’s lit by a LED system and by a 64-foot glass wall.
The opening of the pool enables residents to move from the Williams Aquatics Center downtown to the modern facility just three miles away.
A group of Williams “regulars” gathered last Thursday for a going-away party before convening the next day for activities at Huntsville Aquatics Center. The Williams Center is being demolished as part of the City Centre development after some seven decades of service.
“I can only imagine the people this pool has helped,” Brenda Hall said. “It’s not only the exercise but it’s the fellowship.”
A VIP tour of the new facility Friday was led by Chris O’Neil, Facilities Projects Manager for the City of Huntsville and a former college All-America swimmer at Texas A&M and gold medal winner in the 1986 Goodwill Games.
The complex will include three pools, including what is being called the Legacy pool, the existing pool that is currently in use, the Instructional pool and the Competition pool, with seating for more than 1,400 spectators.
“There are going to be a lot of records broken in here,” said O’Neil, who set some records in the Legacy pool. “That’s just part of the process every time you open a new pool. They’re designed to be faster.”
The competition pool is 50 meters long, with a moveable bulkhead, and is seven feet deep.
There are new locker rooms, restrooms, concession stands and other amenities throughout the complex and expanded parking. Construction is expected to be completed by early June, in time for Huntsville to host the City Swim Meet.