EDMOND — Cole Duncan smiled and hugged the edge of Edmond's new competitive swimming pool Wednesday after being the first one in the water and first to swim a lap.
“It is everything I ever dreamed of,” the 16-year-old Edmond North High School junior said. “It is the best pool ever.”
Discussions about such a pool have been going on in Edmond longer than any of the 130 high school swimmers have been alive.
“They told me in 1977 I would have a pool in two years,” an excited coach Steve Riggs said. “They just didn't tell me two years from when.”
The 815,349-gallon pool will be home for swimmers from the three Edmond high schools.
Wednesday was the first practice day in the pool, and the first city meet will be at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at the J.L. Mitch complex. It is open to the public.
The eight-lane, 50-meter competitive swimming pool is 7 feet deep on the south end and 13.6 feet deep on the north end with seating for up to 800 spectators.
The competitive pool is part of a 105,000-square-foot building that will house the Mitch Park YMCA. The $25.4 million project is a partnership with the city of Edmond, the school district and the YMCA.
The city spent $8 million, the school district $11.2 million and the YMCA $6.2 million on the complex.
Edmond Electric paid $691,000 for the geothermal cooling and heating system, which is included in the city's $8 million portion.
An exact cost of the building won't be calculated until the project is completed, said Assistant City Manager Steve Commons.
Shouting and declarations that this was their pool started in the parking lot as the swimmers arrived for their first practice.
Kelsey Kersgieter, an Edmond Memorial High School freshman, couldn't keep her bare feet out of the water as the swimmers waited to be told they could jump into the water.
“It is amazing,” said Kersgieter, 14, who has been swimming for six years. “I can't wait another second.”
Senior Nate Anderson comes from a family of four Edmond swimmers. His brothers all graduated before the pool was completed.
The swim coach was just as excited as his swimmers, maybe more.
“It is overwhelming,” said Riggs, the 37-year veteran Edmond swim coach. “It has been emotional, absolute. It was so great to watch the faces of the kids when they came in.”
He admitted he shed a few tears.
“We are so blessed,” Riggs said.
Riggs is going to have to wait to swim his first lap. He is recovering from heart surgery.
“There are some excited kids here,” said Bret Towne, associate superintendent, who watched each step of the construction of the new complex over the last 20 months. “They came in hooting and hollering.
“They were all taking pictures when they came in. There are probably more photos of this place on Twitter and Facebook right now.”