COLUMBIA, SC — Standing on the deck of the new Maxcy Gregg pool, Lori Petrimoulx smiles as she watches dozens of young swimmers churning through the 10 lanes.
Petrimoulx, only a few practices into coaching the summer’s Maxcy Gregg swim team, already is in love with the renovated pool.
“They really did things right,” Petrimoulx said. “It’s fabulous.”
The city spent $1.72 million to renovate the old pool, which first opened in 1949 and has gone through multiple renovations since. More recently, it had recurring problems with leaks and a cranky filtration system. The new facility, which opens to the public this weekend, might not look remarkably different to the untrained eye, other than having that new pool sparkle.
But the length was shortened slightly, from 55 yards to 50 meters, and the width increased slightly, to 25 yards. That’s key for competitive swimming, as those are the official lengths for long-course and short-course events. In the past, swimmers’ times at Maxcy Gregg didn’t translate to those at other regulation pools, and top competitive events shunned the pool for that reason.
Now, starting platforms easily can be inserted for either the long-course lanes or short-course lanes, depending on what Petrimoulx wants the swimmers to work on. They also can be removed when the pool is open to the public for summer swimming fun.
“It’s not going to be just about competition,” Petrimoulx said. “You can get 600 people in this pool.”
Actually, the city is going with an official capacity of 400, though more could people could squeeze in. That capacity might get a test this first weekend, with a dive-in movie showing Friday night and open swim sessions in what promises to be sunny, warm weather Saturday, Sunday and Monday.
And it could be important later, too, with the city’s Greenview pool closed for the summer for its own overhaul.
The 1,800-square foot bathhouse has more showers, including one handicap-accessible shower each for men and women. (The men’s and women’s rooms have switched sides from the previous setup. Be careful.)
While there were discussions about not including a diving board in the renovations, a low board was included at the deep end, where the depth is 11 feet. The shallow end is 3½ feet. There’s no wading pool for toddlers. (If you have youngsters shorter than about 3½ feet tall who want to splash around, try Richland County’s St. Andrews Park pool, which has a gradual-beach entry section.)
Longtime Maxcy Gregg pool users might notice a difference in the feel of both the water and the pool’s surface.
The salt-based filtration system gives the water less of a chemical odor or taste – but it doesn’t taste salty, either. The pool’s new surface is tile and concrete as opposed to the vinyl covering of the former pool.
The renovated Maxcy Gregg pool opens this weekend.
Friday: Reopening celebration and tours, 2 p.m.; Dive-in Movie showing of “Shark Tales,” 8-10 p.m., floats allowed, daily fees apply
Saturday: Pool officially opens for public swimming, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Summer hours: 1-7 p.m., Monday through Friday; 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday; 2-6 p.m. Sunday
Fees: Daily: $2 for 12-and-younger, $3 for 13-and-older; annual: $80 12-and-younger, $120 13-and-older
Location: 1651 Park Circle, near Blossom and Pickens streets, in Columbia