Seneca Valley School District Aquatic Facility
- Harmony, PA
- February 2021
- New Construction
- 40,000 Square Feet
School districts do not just educate our children; they have a responsibility and opportunity to function as an integral community asset.
In introducing the importance of the project to 25 community members gathered to help plan and design the new aquatic center, Superintendent Dr. Tracy Vitale informed the group that drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury or death after motor vehicle crashes. In our country, it is estimated that almost 4,000 unintentional drownings occur every year. Swimming has many important benefits. It is great for heart health without impact stress on joints; it builds endurance strength and muscle development. It encourages mind-body balance and contributes to positive mental health. But when challenged on why a public school district with limited resources should continue to invest in swimming as part of their curriculum, the message was clear: knowing how to swim saves lives.
A movable bulkhead allows the new pool’s 35-meter distance to be divided according to activity. At the 25-meter mark, the swim team can occupy the shallow end while the dive team comfortably practices in the deep end. By opening the pool to its full size, a broader range of community activities become possible – fast water rescue practice for first responders, scuba diving lessons, water polo games, even paddleboard yoga and kayaking as part of Physical Education classes. The increased volume of water and movable bulkhead create a highly flexible pool that accommodates the community’s many aquatic needs.
The aquatic center is connected to the intermediate school by an enclosed corridor with overhead glass garage doors that open outward, becoming a transparent canopy and gateway for stadium events. New concession stands are positioned to serve both outdoor events like football games, and indoor events like swim meets.
The decision to build a new free-standing facility allowed the existing fifty-year-old pool to be repurposed into much-needed gymnasium space. The old pool was filled in, and a new multi-purpose playing surface was installed. Existing storage rooms were converted into a connecting corridor so the gymnasium can act as support space for major meets and invitationals at the new aquatic center, in addition to its primary role serving the physical education department.
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