By Raiza Giorgi


The Santa Ynez Valley Community Aquatics Foundation needs to raise $500,000 by March 1 to keep construction on schedule, according to Bruce Porter, a foundation board member.

Raising the money by that deadline will allow pool construction to coincide with Santa Ynez Valley Union High School bond improvements, which saves money on inspectors and construction costs, Porter said.

“Doing the work while the high school is doing their repairs will save so much money and time,” Porter said.

The Aquatics Foundation was established to replace the 50-year-old, crumbling and undersized pool at Santa Ynez Valley Union High School with a new full-sized pool.

“The new aquatics complex will ensure the community will have far greater access to water-related activities even during the school day, with opportunities for programming from city recreation departments, the YMCA, and others,” Porter said.

He added that the current pool isn’t up to size requirements for regulation meets for the high school swim teams and water polo teams, but with the new facility the pool could host a wide variety of events, from water aerobics to Junior and Special Olympics.

The pool has been purchased by the foundation as modular components from the manufacturer that installed one of the pools at the last summer Olympic Swimming Trials in Omaha. It will be installed in the parking lot between the Old Gym and Refugio Road, and another smaller pool will be installed on the site of the current pool.

Funding of $7.1 million has been secured through donations, matches and pledges. The total cost is projected at $11.2 million, with the remainder to be raised by June 2019.

“If any community can get this done, it’s ours,” Porter said.

The foundation also projects that the two pools will use less water than the current pool and will generate revenue from rental use, fees and concessions. Solar panels also will be installed to offset heating costs.

Projected capacity is for up to 1,500 participants and spectators, a family play area, a sports medicine and science building, modern scoreboard, expanded parking and changing rooms with lockers.

Gary Hall Jr., a five-time Olympic swimming gold medalist who lives in the Santa Ynez Valley, and valley native Kami Craig, an Olympic water polo gold medalist, are the co-chairs of the capital campaign.

“The Santa Ynez Valley community will be forever changed when the Olympic-size pool is installed at the high school, and I am so excited that it will give everyone the opportunities to use it, and bring water athletics in the valley to another level,” Craig said last year at the welcoming event for the pool components.

Also involved in the project is the LA84 Foundation, which was created with a share of the surplus funds from the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. LA84 began operations in 1985 as a grant making and educational foundation that supports hundreds of nonprofit youth sports organizations throughout Southern California, trains coaches, commissions research, and convenes conferences.

“We also have Sansum Clinic involved with their Diabetes Center to launch a health and wellness program,” Porter said.

For more information about the planned community pool, including ways to volunteer or donate, visit