Long the jewel of the city’s aquatic sports world (six Bruins competed in the pool for the USA in the London Olympics), the school’s pool was nonetheless closed down during the summer for repairs due to a flood in the basement. With the Belmont closed down and its temporary replacement not yet opened, that left few options for competitive water, as the Wilson water polo team took to the Colorado Lagoon, and the Naples Canals for their practices.
The grand opening of the Cabrillo Aquatic Center on Monday was met with applause not just from the Westside community, but from the rest of the city as well. “It’s exciting,” said Long Beach Unified School District superintendent Chris Steinhauser. “It’s a jewel not just for Cabrillo and the entire Westside, but for the whole Long Beach community. Long Beach is an aquatics capitol, we’re already getting numerous requests to use it.”
In a Monday morning ribbon-cutting ceremony, the community got its first chance to see the $12 million facility, which was built using Measure K funds. With a size of 40 meters x 25 yards, it also has a large video scoreboard, and separate showers and locker rooms for students and aquatics teams.
“Our kids are excited about it,” said Cabrillo co-principal Elio Mendoza. “They’ve been asking all year when they can get in.” Mendoza said he’s happy to see his students get the same access to a pool that the other large high schools in the LBUSD has. “There are kids who know how to swim who’ve said they can’t wait to swim in PE class, and there are kids who don’t know how to swim who’ve said they can’t wait to learn how — the point is they all have the chance now.”
The pool was officially opened by Cabrillo ASB president Kimberly Sottomayor, who was given the ceremonial scissors by Steinhauser. After the ribbon was cut, the Cabrillo marching band played while the Jaguars’ cheerleaders performed on the far deck, and the students gathered did a Cabrillo chant.
The school district’s only outdoor pool could be used as a site for future Moore League contests and other multi-school events, according to Mendoza.
In addition to the competitive-depth portion of the pool, there is a four-foot area that can be used for teaching students how to swim for the first time, as well as aquatic exercise and physical therapy. Both Steinhauser and Mendoza say the pool will be available for community use in some capacity, although the details and permits to begin that process have not yet been sorted out.
“I remember going to Wilson High as a kid and paying my quarter to swim,” said Steinhauser. “That’s how I learned.”
The gathered dignitaries and school board members all emphasized their satisfaction in seeing the pool built with Measure K money. Measure K was a bond approved in a general vote by a supermajority. “That this was built by tax dollars is an example of the faith our community has in its school system,” said Steinhauser.
While Cabrillo hasn’t previously been known for its aquatics programs — the Jaguars have no Moore League titles or playoff wins to their names in water polo or swimming — everyone gathered was optimistic about the future now that they have a state-of-the-art facility.
“Just give them time,” said Steinhauser. They already have the water.