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City, school district plan recreation campus with competition pool

This preliminary drawing shows the concept for a downtown recreation campus along Celtic Drive. The swimming pool is northwest of the Central Office for Madison City Schools (CONTRIBUTED)
This preliminary drawing shows the concept for a downtown recreation campus along Celtic Drive. The swimming pool is northwest of the Central Office for Madison City Schools (CONTRIBUTED)

MADISON – City of Madison and Madison City Schools (MCS) are collaborating on a recreational campus and 25-yard competition pool.

On Aug. 25, council approved a memorandum of understanding with the board to jointly build a natatorium west of MCS Stadium and Central Office at the property line with Home Place subdivision.

Along Celtic Drive, the city owns about eight acres. The board plans to convey 10 to 15 acres, Dr. Terri Johnson said. Johnson, a Madison Board of Education member, has children involved with swim teams.

The school board’s 2014 capital plan “allocated $3 million for building an aquatic facility for high school swim teams,” Johnson said. “The 2015 capital plan approved on Sept. 9 still contains $3 million,” a portion of BRAC money awarded to schools for capital expenditures.

When James Clemens High School opened, Bob Jones High School swim team decreased from 25 male and 25 female swimmers to approximately 22 swimmers. “James Clemens had the same number,” Johnson said.

“Each team could be larger, but they (must) share four lanes of the Dublin Pool. That’s 11 adult-sized bodies per lane,” she said. Dublin is an eight-lane, 25-yard pool.

“We cannot get additional lanes because Madison Swim Association needs the other four lanes for its 150 swimmers (who don’t attend simultaneously),” Johnson said. This year, the city is allowing more practice time; each school has 25 swimmers on teams.

“Unfortunately, we cannot grow the swim program until the swimmers have more lane space,” she said. “A 25-yard pool is critical; that’s the distance swum in high school and most club competitions.”

In July, MCS recruited swimming experts for a “Build a Pool” workshop with members of swim team families, school board, city council and recreation department, along with coaches. The board has met three more times about high school needs.

A “green road” will connect downtown Madison to the recreation campus.

The board and council will confer again on Oct. 1.

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