POULSBO — The air is cleaner.
The view is brighter.
And those aren’t the only changes at the North Kitsap Community Pool.
The pool re-opened late last month, but with construction still being completed at the front of the building, many people didn’t know the renovated structure was open for business, said pool officials Greg Schmidt and Mark Van Huis.
Not only is it open, they said, it’s dramatically improved.
They think people should check it out.
“They need to come and look — and come and smell. That’s the first thing people notice: there’s no chlorine smell,” said Schmidt.
Also gone is the dark look of the pool, the damaged walls, and the overheated air.
With those obstacles out of the way, the pool is ready to host more competitive swimmers. While free swims and swimming lessons are still available, some new programs stress teamwork and competition.
One of the main programs is the Piranha swim team, which serves swimmers from age 6 and up, with a level-four swimming lesson certificate. With about 14 members now, Van Huis said the team will soon get its certificate with Pacific Northwest Swimming, which will qualify it to compete against the 20-plus competitive swimming programs in the Pacific Northwest.
Van Huis, the pool’s assistant manager, said that the program isn’t just for kids — in fact, one swimmer is 20 years old.
“It’s a wide range,” he said. “Anyone can do it.”
Schmidt said the team hopes to be competitive; but that’s not the main focus.
“If we get Olympic-caliber swimmers, that’s great, but that’s not the goal. The goal is to instill a lifelong love of swimming,” he said.
The pool is also offering a synchronized swim team, open to kids 6 and older (again, with a level-four certificate); a NK diving team; and a water polo team.
While competition is a new focus for the programs, it is not the only one. There are still open swims, and any North Kitsap School District student (K-6) can get free swimming lessons on a space available basis — a skill that’s important to have, Van Huis said.
“We’re in a region where there’s a lot of water. Kids need to learn to swim,” he said.
The pool was renovated through the summer and early fall through a $60 million-dollar capital facilities bond, passed last year, that funded the renovation along with several other projects, including a new secondary school in Kingston.
The renovation included a new “envelope” (outside walls) heating, ventilation, and cooling unit, expanded locker rooms, new plumbing, and several other changes.
An elevator tower was added for those who want to reach the auditorium, and a new storage unit for the pool is still being completed.
The parking lot, blocked for most of the renovation by construction vehicles, has re-opened.
The pool also has a revamped web site; swimmers can now register for lessons online.
To reach it, swimmers can go to www.nksd.wednet.edu, then click on the “community pool” link.