The Fremont Family YMCA unveiled last week its new 50-meter pool, joining UNO in housing one of few Olympic-size indoor pools in the Omaha area.
The top priorities for the new YMCA pool will remain the same, said CEO Jerry Rinne. The larger pool will accommodate swim lessons, aquatic classes and Fremont’s larger swimming community, including a high school and Midland University teams. More than that, they hope it draws people to the area, which is about 40 minutes outside of Omaha, Rinne said. And given its size, it’s also a possible site for U.S. Olympic Swim Trial practices when Omaha hosts the event in 2020.
“The (swimming) culture is going to get better. It’s going to be amazing in the next five to 10 years,” he said of the Fremont area.
The new pool replaces a lap pool that is half the size and a 25-yard instructional pool that is 50 years old. When staff and board members learned they would need to pour $3 million into those structures for repairs, they opted to build, Rinne said.
The project, which also includes converting the old pools to recreational space, will cost $15.2 million, paid for through donations and fundraising, said Rinne; they’re about $1 million away from hitting their goal.
The pool is from the same company — Myrtha Pools — that manufactures pools for the U.S. Olympic Swim Trials.
The University of Nebraska at Omaha houses the area’s other indoor Olympic-size pool, said Mike Kult, associate director for campus recreation. That pool is almost 40 years old.
The City of Omaha operates an outdoor 50-meter pool, Hitchcock Pool near 45th and Q Streets.
The Jewish Community Center, near 132nd Street and West Dodge Road, had an outdoor 50-meter pool for more than 40 years. But construction is underway to replace it with a 25-meter pool, lazy river, zero-depth entry pool and splash pad.
Plans for the $125 million Nebraska Multisport Complex in La Vista call for two Olympic-size pools. While part of the facility may open sooner, the aquatic portion is scheduled to open in fall 2019. Organizers broke ground in 2016 but have yet to settle on a contract with their general contractor.
UNO and Hitchcock both have had interest from athletes training for the Trials in Omaha. Omaha hosted the Trials at the CenturyLink Center in 2008, 2012 and 2016. Omaha will host again in 2020.
Officials with USA Swimming said athletes will consider using the Fremont YMCA pool to train in the weeks leading up to the 2020 event. It’s dependent on accessibility and available equipment, they said.
After the three Trials held in Omaha, Swim Omaha has seen a slight uptick in enrollment, said Doug Krecklow, president of the swimming club. But he said the Trials had a bigger impact on young swimmers who found inspiration watching Olympic hopefuls compete in their hometown.
But Krecklow, who is also the head swimming coach at Westside High School, said with few pools of that size in the area, it makes it challenging to offer that experience to local swim teams.
“I commend the Fremont folks,” he said. “That was a huge move and great plan on their part to provide that opportunity for their kids and surrounding communities.”
The Fremont pool has six lanes at 50 meters. Or swimmers can use 12 lanes at 25 yards — rather than swimming the length of the pool, swimmers will tackle the width of the pool.
There is seating for nearly 400 people on the pool’s upper deck. The pool deck can accommodate about 150 seated spectators. A nearby gym can serve as an overflow area, set up with video for larger meets, Rinne said.
One feature of the Fremont pool is a gutter that helps absorb waves made by swimmers, reducing resistance.
A shallow end of the pool will allow the YMCA to continue its focus on offering swim lessons to youngsters and water aerobics classes, Rinne said. Because the pool isn’t zero-depth entry, they installed a splash pad on the pool deck for kids to play on.
The pool is housed in the Dillon Family Aquatic Center, a new 35,000-square-foot addition connected to the Y. Construction started in November 2016.
Officials expect the two older pools to be filled in by the end of the year. One will become a turf field for indoor soccer, and the other will house weights and platforms for various exercises, Rinne said.