The grand opening took place on Wednesday, May 8

ATASCADERO — The new Atascadero High School (AHS) pool officially opened at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, May 8. Student-athletes, school faculty, parents, and the entire Atascadero Unified School District (AUSD) trustee board were in attendance, and the excitement at the new aquatics facility was palpable. The school had been without a pool since right after Oct. 21, 2022.

“Hello, everybody, and welcome to the Atascadero Aquatics Facility opening,” stated AHS Principal Nikki Baca at the start of the ceremony. “Let’s give it up to all of our athletes who have sacrificed for the last two years — all the traveling time and all the dedication they put in to be able to have this moment with the pool today. I also want to thank all of our coaches and all of our parents who put in endless hours driving our students.”

Superintendent Tom Butler was also at the pool’s opening and introduced the current AUSD Board of Trustees, including President Terri Switzer, Treasurer Tracy Ellis-Weit, Matt Pennon, Rebekah Koznek, Corinne Kuhnle, Vy Pierce, and Denise McGrew-Kane. Past trustees Donn Clickard and Tammy Gunther were also in attendance. Past AHS principal Bill Neely, Larry Wysong of Wysong Construction (who constructed the new pool), and Max Zappas, who fundraised $17,000 for aquatic equipment for the pool and the students were also in attendance. They also recognized all of the AHS aquatics coaches during the ceremony.


“It was nine years ago, Mr. Neely and I were right here. We were talking about how great our students are. How bright they were. How tough they were, competitively right here in athletics,” added Butler. “We were talking about the support we get from parents and the talent of the teachers here. We were having this great conversation, and we looked around, and something wasn’t right, and it was the facility. It was just aged. It had worn. That happens in schools, but this community took it head on.”

When Butler was done addressing the audience on the covered bleachers, boys water polo and assistant swim coach Jon Conrad took to the mic.

“This has been a long time coming. I know I speak on behalf of the coaches that we deserve this pool, but more importantly, the athletes right here deserve this pool,” Conrad said as he pointed at the student-athletes sitting in front of the bleachers. “We’ve traveled for many years now, well over 4,500 miles. Not being able to host a meet in two years, built a pool for a year. It’s been a long time coming.”

Conrad, who’s coached at AHS since 2015, added that he’s excited to be able to start winning championships in the school’s own facility again.

After that, a slideshow was shown that featured stories and photos spanning from when the original pool was built, AHS’s many wins without an official pool, and everything leading up to the historic opening of the new facility.

Right before the student-athletes jumped into the new pool for the first time, Conrad had another announcement for everyone. Though it was still unclear when students would be able to start practicing in the pool at the May 5 AUSD school board meeting, Conrad stated that official practices would start the next day, Thursday, May 9, and that the pool was officially open from then on.  

“I just think it’s a historic moment for Atascadero, and I think it’s really neat to be able to experience it,” stated Baca after the kids had jumped into the pool. “It’s going to be a day in history for us. It’s neat to be able to allow the kids to just jump in and enjoy the moment and take it all in with them.” 

The pool will not only be used by students at AHS, but will also host the Atascadero Middle School water polo team. According to Butler, it will also be used as a PE facility and AHS is looking forward to being able to partner with the city on water safety courses for the community.

“We want to thank the community. We’ve had tremendous community support,” concluded Butler.

Featured Image: AHS aquatic athletes enjoy their new pool on Wednesday, May 8. Photo by Christianna Marks