THE WOODLANDS, Texas, July 3. IN an unprecedented move, The Woodlands Swim Team has stated an intention to purchase the competition pool that will be used at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials by putting down a deposit for the temporary tank designed by Myrtha Pools.
The undisclosed deposit does not give TWST the pool outright, but does buy the team time to raise the remainder of the $1.5 million needed before the April 30, 2015, deadline. Fundraisers are on tap for later this summer, and TWST will be in partnership with Woodlands Masters Swim Team to make the pool purchase a reality.
“We’re extremely excited about this opportunity,” said Masters swimmer Tom Boak, a longtime backer of swimming in The Woodlands and one of the people instrumental in the push to bring the Trials pool to Texas. “The first process was to secure the pool, and we did that. We don’t even know where the pool’s going to go at this point.”
Boak, who also serves as a Myrtha representative in Texas, said companies and individuals have expressed interest in offering land for the pool, but added it was too early in the process to mention names publicly.
Each of the past three U.S. Olympic Trials pools have been sold to swim teams in the United States. The 2004 competition pool is in use in Yucaipa, Calif., while Berkeley Aquatic Club in New Jersey owns the warm-up pool. The 2008 pools are now in Virginia, while the 2012 competition pool is slated for a new home in the Boston area. Meet host Omaha, Neb., will keep the warm-up pool from 2012 for a yet-to-be-built facility.
The previous pools were purchased no earlier than a year before their respective Olympic Trials, so The Woodlands Swim Team is “creating a model that I think is going to really take hold in the future,” Boak said.
Like many teams in the United States, TWST is experiencing major growth and does not have the pool space to accommodate all of the athletes in the team’s 13 workout groups. That doesn’t include Woodlands Masters, which Boak says is also “squeezed for space.” The age group and Masters teams currently use five facilities in the area, including the CISD Natatorium in nearby Conroe.
Since the closing of the famed Woodlands Athletic Center in 2008, the city has been without a pool for competitive swimming. In 2011, the idea of purchasing one of Myrtha’s pools from the Olympic Trials for the city started as a whisper among the city’s politicians that grew to a reality three years later.
Boak said he and TWST head coach Tim Bauer are ready to raise public interest in getting the Trials pool now that the first hurdle is cleared. The only issue, it appears, is waiting a little more than two years to get the pool.
“There’s no place to put people,” Boak said. “We’re just desperate for more water.”