After four years of planning and construction, the $27.8 million Shawnee Mission School District Aquatic Center at Lenexa’s City Center will officially open on this week.
“This is really a very high quality facility,” said David Smith, the district’s chief communications officer. “It’s suitable for Olympic-quality [swim] meets, both with the length of the pool and the number of lanes. It’s just a first-class facility.”
In the past, the district would rent time at the Olathe School District’s aquatic facility to host swim meets since none of the district’s facilities would accommodate the amount of swim meet attendees, the Shawnee Mission Post previously reported. The new aquatic center, which was designed to attract regional and national swim meets in addition to the district’s meets, can hold up to 500 competitors and 1,000 spectators.
The first swim meet in the facility will be held Saturday, Dec. 7.
Smith said the new facility may create some excitement regarding Shawnee Mission’s swimming programs.
“I think once people [see] the facility and what it’s capable of, maybe some more kids will get interested in [swimming],” Smith said.
The aquatic center is complete with a 50-meter competition pool — with a 16-foot deep diving well at one end and two bulkheads — and a 25-yard pool for training and recreation. The smaller has an adjustable floor that can be lowered by three-feet, allowing people of all abilities to access the pool, Smith said. Other amenities at the aquatic center include locker rooms, a concession area, and a two-story parking garage.
The Johnson County Parks & Recreation District has entered an agreement with the district to operate the aquatic center, an arrangement JCPRD Executive Director Jeff Stewart said the organization is excited to kick off.
“JCPRD applauds the Shawnee Mission School District’s vision in that the state-of-the-art facility will serve the entire Johnson County community beyond the programming and event needs of SMSD,” Stewart wrote.
Lenexa Deputy City Manager Todd Pelham said the city is extremely excited about the partnership with the school district, and that the aquatic center is seen as an economic development tool. He said the aquatic center, which is located near City Hall and the Lenexa Recreation Center, can help bring people in to experience the city’s restaurants and hotels.
“We feel like it will bring people not only locally that are involved with the Shawnee Mission swim program, but also regionally and nationally,” Pelham said. “Marketing different types of meets will bring people here that haven’t been to Lenexa. I think that’s good not only for Lenexa, but also the Kansas City metro region.”
Lenexa donated the $1 million-valued property the aquatic center sits on for the project. The aquatic center was funded by a $223 million bond issue that district voters approved in early 2015. Those funds were restricted to use on capital projects under state law, and cannot be allocated to classroom expenses.