Preparation for the new pool starts by the end of the year
ATASCADERO — On Friday, Oct. 21, the Atascadero High School (AHS) water polo and swim teams and alums from both sports swam in the current AHS pool for the last time. What started as a proposed celebration for this year’s water polo seniors also turned into a huge final send-off to the pool.
“One of the coaches in our program had the idea that since we weren’t able to host any home games this year, where we normally have a senior night, that we should possibly have it the Friday before the pool shut down for good,” said the boy’s water polo coach Jon Conrad.
The water-based-sport coaches got together with team moms and other coaches. Before they knew it, the event was open to alumni too. The JV swim coach Levi Heit ran a swim meet for alumni and current students, where they competed against each other, all in good fun. Around 10 swimming alumni showed up for the swim meet portion of the evening.
“For the water polo, it was easily around 30-plus alumni. It was incredible,” added Conrad.
The boy’s water polo team celebrated its seven seniors: Sebastian Starrock, Luke Heckman, Ben Strohl, Conall Brown, Logan Chubon, James Hazelwood, and Aiden Garrett. The girl’s team also celebrated its seven graduating teammates: Lilly Moynagh, Annika Pauschek, Jenna Lee, Sophia Donati, Ashlyn Imhoff, Ana Garcia, and Annabell Power.
“We just took a moment there with their families to honor them. To acknowledge the commitment they made to our program for so many years,” Conrad said. “I have a wonderful group of seniors that have stuck with me for many years.”
AHS is now officially headed towards starting construction on its brand-new pool before the end of the year. The school board awarded Wysong Construction the job, and the build will follow the original plans brought before the board earlier this year.
“It’s pretty much a love/hate relationship. I think I speak for everybody, you know, we love the pool because it’s been there for us,” Conrad said. “We hate the pool because it’s not the best of facilities, but it’s what we have. It’s broken down on us many times. We even have a joke where we can’t even talk about the status of the pool anywhere in SLO County because the water molecules will talk, and our pool will get mad and shut down on us. It’s actually happened a few times.”
Conrad went on to say that in the six years he’s been coaching water polo at AHS, they have yet to complete a season without the pool breaking down.
“It’s a pool that’s served us well. It’s handed us many upset wins. We’ve upset some strong teams in our pool,” he said. “We used it to our advantage when we had it, but nobody is sad to see it go, and we are definitely looking forward to the new facility that’s going to be built on the same spot. It’s going to be state of the art, and we are so excited.”
AHS has tentative plans to have the new pool up and running by next fall, which will be located in the same spot as the old pool. The new state-of-the-art pool will be 35 meters long for an estimated cost of $7.8 million.
“We are just so thankful for the school board for making this a priority and moving on it and being proactive,” Conrad said.
Alumni and current water polo players play in the Atascadero High pool for the last time. Photos by Rick Evans