Island’s first Olympic-sized pool ‘blessed’

PUHI — “I’ve waited nine months for this,” said David Asman, project supervisor for the YMCA pool.

He and a group of YMCA of Kaua‘i officials could barely contain themselves when the first gush of water sputtered from the specially rigged fire hose leading to the island’s first Olympic-sized pool, yesterday morning in Puhi.

“It’s 10:07 and I have it recorded on the camera,” said Kathy Mata, the YMCA office manager.

Preceding the first splatter of water, which was met by an arms-up gesture of success from Tom Tannery, officials sought shelter beneath the eaves of the buildings as a passing shower delayed the start of the filling.

“This is the natural blessing,” said Stephanie Rogers, the YMCA’s aquatics director.

She said they were really grateful for the assistance of the county and the fire department to achieve this milestone.

After calculating the volume of the Olympic-sized swimming pool, she said, it would have taken about 45 days to fill if they used all available hose bibs on the YMCA property.

Even with the help of the fire department, Rogers said the monumental task of filling the 600,000-gallon pool was going to take three days and eight hours based on the fire hose pumping some 125 gallons per minute.

“That means it will be sometime Sunday afternoon or evening when the pool is filled,” Rogers said. “It’s still a lot faster than us trying to fill it with garden hoses.”

Tom Tannery, the YMCA of Kaua‘i director, said the pool will open on July 1 as scheduled.

“Hopefully, the diving boards will be in place by then,” he said. “I’ve been busy lifting portions of the slide in place, but everything is ready for July 1.”

He said Asman did a really good job of getting everything in order for the opening.

“He was the first man in and always the last man out for a long time,” Tannery said, noting that Asman’s experience as a high school swimmer, mini triathlete and water polo player helped him expedite a lot of steps in the project’s development.

Rogers said the fences, with the help of Wellington Fence, is scheduled to be installed, coinciding with the water being turned on to fill the pool. Balancing the water chemistry in the pool and getting the final health department clearances are scheduled for next week in time for the opening.

“Our first swim meet is scheduled for Aug. 2 and we are sending out invitations to government dignitaries and YMCA people for a short ceremony before the meet starts,” Rogers said.

In line with the opening of the pool, Rogers said the YMCA is soliciting applications for lifeguards and swim instructor positions.

Billy Brown, a YMCA instructor, was unable to attend the ceremonial turning on of the water, but Rogers said he spent some time Wednesday night lying on the floor of the pool, enjoying the view of the stars before the pool is filled with water.

“We have a swim coach, a water polo coach and a diving coach,” Rogers said. “What we need are instructors in aerobics, a personal trainer and SCUBA instructors.”

Rogers said there have been several dive groups inquiring about instruction at the facility, but said they need instructors before that can take place.

Additionally, Rogers, who also is the president of the Swim Kaua‘i Aquatics swim club, said SKA will become a YMCA club in addition to performing under the USA Swimming umbrella.

“I grew up as a YMCA swimmer and a USA Swimming participant,” Rogers said. “Both programs are compatible because the times obtained in one program can be used in the other.”

She said one of the benefits for swimmers in the YMCA program is the opportunity to participate in a national YMCA meet.

“Eventually, this place will be for all things aquatic,” Rogers said.

• Dennis Fujimoto, photographer and staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or dfujimoto@kauaipubco.com

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