A Swim Practice Facility could provide equity across Round Rock ISD for competitive swimmers, be utilized by all District high schools for small swim meets, and offer additional opportunities for diving programs and therapy use for special needs students.

Eastside and central student swimmers would get an enclosed swim practice facility if the proposed Round Rock ISD Bond passes on Nov. 6.

“We’re looking for something that provides equity of opportunity for our kids to have a place where they can practice and they can excel in the sport that they love,” Dwayne Weirich, director of athletics for Round Rock ISD, explained.

The new practice facility would meet UIL standards with room to accommodate up to three schools for swim practice, and would include boys and girls changing rooms, bathrooms, accessibility, and limited spectator seating at a cost of $16 million. Currently, Round Rock ISD’s five high schools swim at four different facilities. Two pools are outdoors, and none are owned by the District.

Cedar Ridge and Round Rock high school students regularly swim outside in City of Round Rock pools. Stony Point swims at the YMCA and shares space with a growing membership. Westwood and McNeil swim at the privately owned and well-equipped indoor Waterloo Swimming, where space is leased by the District, and it is conveniently located for those students.

Swim teams face challenges when using community facilities that were meant for, the most part, summer use, Weirich said. “During December and January, it often is too cold for them to practice.”

Challenges extend beyond the weather for Cedar Ridge High School students, said swim coach and teacher Mark Stohrer, whose team currently practices regularly at the city’s Lake Creek Pool. He sees loss of opportunity for kids in his program, the community and students, especially east of I-35.

The Lake Creek Pool has six lanes for Cedar Ridge swimmers, and those lanes are shallower and narrower than standard lanes. “In training, it really pinches our kids, compresses them in, it alters their strokes. We don’t get the opportunity to practice certain strokes as much because of the narrow width of the lanes,” Stohrer said.

“We do not have starting blocks. Starting blocks are an important part of preparing for competitions. You begin every race with starting blocks. It’s essential for what we do as far as how we compete.”

Ana Lecomte, a senior at Cedar Ridge High School, agrees that their pool limits opportunities. “We have to sometimes alter the way we swim to not hit anybody, and we can’t dive. That’s a big part of racing, and we can’t practice that here.

“Having to change the way you swim for practice definitely has a big impact on the way you swim in meets because you practice how you play, so if you don’t practice well, you’re not going to swim well.”

For Cedar Ridge swimmers to practice with diving blocks, they must travel to the YMCA, where the Stony Point swim team practices. “We have to go to the YMCA to work on starts, which then affects Stony Point’s program because they have to compress their program down to half the pool and we take over half of the pool,” Stohrer said.

Weirich says the YMCA is a very nice facility, but “It isn’t truly a place that was built for competitive training and swimming, but more of a place to satisfy its membership.”

At the new swim practice facility, Round Rock ISD envisions a “passive” cover with roll-up doors that would minimize heating and cooling costs for the building. The deep-water pool would most likely be 50 meters long, 25 yards wide sectioned into lanes and allow for starting blocks.

Round Rock High School swimmers could also use the facility in poor weather. RRHS swimmers currently swim at the City of Round Rock’s outdoor Micki Krebsbach Swimming Pool, which is across the street from the school.

The swim facility would have minimal seating and could potentially host two- to three-team meets, but would not be big enough for District or regional competitions. All District high schools would be able to use the facility for small swim meets.

If the budget allows, the District could add a smaller pool for swim lessons for elementary students or therapy for students with disabilities. The main pool could also be built with an end deep enough for diving instruction. Currently competitive divers have no place to practice in the District.

Projects in the Bond, including the eastside practice pool, were identified as critical needs by the Citizens Bond Committee. The volunteer group identified more than $800 million in needs in Round Rock ISD and made its recommendations to the Board of Trustees in August.

Coach Stohrer has been an advocate about the need for an aquatic facility east of I-35, where he says there are also fewer club options for kids who choose to swim outside of school. He has to turn away students for his team.

“I can’t have as many kids involved in a great sport of swimming as I would like to without affecting those who have made it to a certain level,” Stohrer said. “For tryouts this year, I had 15 students with very little or no competitive experience, who I would love to have on the team. They are great kids, great young people, but … putting 50 in this pool would be counter-productive for everybody.”

Stohrer believes an enclosed facility could help the community and his students with more than practice. He wants to see his students have more opportunities for lifeguards training and water safety instructor programs “for kids to actually get certifications in fields where they can have jobs, good paying jobs. In Round Rock, with Kalahari opening up in a couple years, there’s 200 plus jobs that are available, plus the 100-plus that the city has that they have trouble filling because the swimming community is so pinched, especially east of I-35.”

Round Rock ISD is seeking a $508 million Bond for improvements throughout the District, including $16 million for an aquatics practice facility. Other growth projects include construction of an elementary school on the east side of the District; additions at Brushy Creek and Caraway elementary schools; additions at Stony Point, McNeil and Westwood high schools; and construction of a new campus at C.D. Fulkes Middle School. Full Bond details.

Approval of the Bond is not expected to increase the tax rate for Round Rock ISD. Rate projections are based on current assessed values and the District’s current proposed plan of finance. Changes in assessed values or in the plan of finance could affect these numbers. These projections are backed up by the District’s traditionally accurate projections for growth and the area’s hallmark growth and rising property values.