District Aims to Open New Natatorium Dec. 18

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Corpus Christi Caller-Times


The pool wasn't supposed to be there.

While digging up the soccer field at Cabaniss Athletic Complex over the summer to lay new turf, contractors stumbled across the remnants of a swimming pool from when the field was a commissioned auxiliary field for Naval Air Station Corpus Christi in the 1940s and 1950s.

"No one knew about the pool under the soccer field," said Brenda Marshall, Corpus Christi Independent School District athletic director. "We knew there was an Olympic-sized pool on that grassy knoll, so that was a surprise."

The long-forgotten naval pool was demolished and filled in with dirt, but that was only one part of the improvements to the facility.

In the year since CCISD passed a $194 million bond package, the district's athletic facility upgrades have progressed mostly on schedule, Marshall said.

At Cabaniss, the 22-year-old natatorium's renovation is near completion. High bid prices led to a construction delay last summer and pushed the reopening date to Dec. 18 for swim practice over the holiday break.

The 14-foot, 6-inch-deep natatorium houses recreational, club and high school swim teams. The large pool will hold 979,000 gallons of water while the smaller pool will hold 29,000 gallons, said Billy McLendon, natatorium supervisor.

The natatorium's portion of the bond was $1.3 million of the $21 million total going toward Cabaniss. The last set of renovations were paid by 2008 bond funds, Marshall said.

Formerly plaster, the pool floors are now tile, and the deck has been resurfaced and the pool's bulkhead has been rebuilt. The locker rooms have been re-tiled, and repairs have been made to gutters and the facility's pump system.

Additional lines have been put on the pool's floor which will help swimmers visualize their path, Marshall said. "Dead space" at the front of the facility will be transformed into classrooms for CPR classes offered by the city. Bleachers will be raised about three feet.

To find a natatorium with more capacity, you would need to travel to Austin or College Station, McLendon said.

Each of the CCISD's six high schools have swimming and diving programs, as well as a number of the middle schools. The high school swim season lasts from September to February, and middle school season goes from February to April.

Each third grade class in the district's 37 elementary schools undergoes swimming lessons every school year, Marshall said.

"We live by water, so we think it's very important that this is a place where kids learn to swim," she said.

In addition to the natatorium upgrades, turf has been installed on Cabaniss' soccer field. The complex's softball and baseball fields will be refinished with turf and have new scoreboards and fences before the spring season, said John Dibala, construction project manager for CCISD.

In January, a second phase of the athletic facilities will start.

This phase includes new dugouts at the ball fields, batting cages, a new press box and video scoreboard at the football field, and two new middle school fields to be built in a tree-filled area in the back of the complex, Dibala said.

The two new fields will be used for soccer and football, but they will not have tracks. There will be bleachers built.

McLendon said the school board and superintendent's "pro-athletics" mindframe has helped this push for better facilities for athletes, their families and fans.

"Academics and athletics all work together to make for a well-rounded education," Marshall said. "What we want is for them to feel like they have modern technology at their fields and facilities."

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December 9, 2017


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