By Alex Gort
There is a jewel in San Manuel. It is a beautiful light blue and it is so large that it can be seen easily from the sky. It adds great value to our community, and while everyone knows where it is, not everyone recognizes it as the jewel that it is. The jewel is the San Manuel Swimming Pool.
The San Manuel Pool has given great things to the community. Many in the area have learned how to swim in its waters. It has provided great relief on hot summer days.
The pool gave a place for the Sea Lions Swim Team to form in 2004. The summer competitive team quickly grew to one of the largest programs in the Central Arizona Swimming League teaching children the proper way to swim competitive strokes and get the youth of our community to exercise while learning a lifetime skill. The pool provided the place for children to take time away from video games and get the needed exercise so many children do not get enough of.
In 2007, the quality and level of participation in swimming activities was enough to earn the Sea Lions the title of Central Arizona Swimming League Champions a title that has been won every year since.
As any jewel has minor flaws, so does our pool. The tile may be cracked in a few places, the water may be a little cold, and the change rooms may not be as beautiful as the new ones in larger communities, but a little bit of character makes this jewel even more of a treasure. Community volunteers can be seen working together to improve the pool.
Whether it is the local boy scout troop helping to clean the pool, the volunteers with various construction experience spending time installing piping to provide solar heating (a project that adds capacity every year as materials and labor are donated), or volunteers to run a swim team and host swim meets, the community is working together which is a treasure that we should all cherish.
Our pool is large enough that there is room for everyone whether it is on a swim team, during public swim, a private party or a community event. Many use the pool to condition for other sports while others use the pool to exercise regularly to keep healthy. Groups are brought together to celebrate at the pool whether it is the completion of a youth baseball season or someone just getting a year older.
Boy Scouts and Lifeguards have been seeing working on their lifesaving skills, skills that will surely save a life someday. The scouts have learned canoeing and kayaking skills in safety of a pool before accepting greater challenges. Water polo has been played at the pool on a regular basis and there is enough interest to form a competitive team.
In 2010, swimmers that our pool help to shape over the years began showing up on the Arizona stage as some of the best (including a State Champion). It is probably no coincidence that swimming was added as a high school sport at San Manuel High School (SMHS) that year. Even though SMHS is one of the smaller high schools to have a swim team, Miner swimmers finished the 2012 season with 9-3 dual meet record (9-2 for the Girls).
As the swimming ability of the community improved, it was just a matter of time before a USA Swimming team called the San Manuel Pool home. There must be something special in the pool, because swimmers from San Manuel are regularly among the best at Arizona Regional and Championship Meets. As USA Swimming began to learn more about the San Manuel Pool, they too realized what a gem we have. USA Swimming sanctioned a swim meet in the San Manuel Pool scheduled to take place in August. It turns out the San Manuel pool is a rare mix of a 50 meter pool in Arizona with a water temperature is not too hot to hold a competition in August.
People from around the state are finding out about our jewel. There have been inquires about holding camp like training sessions in San Manuel to practice in cooler water during the summer.
Hats off to those who have had the vision to keep the pool operating during tight budgets and all those who worked so hard to protect and improve the San Manuel Pool.