Patience will be needed for spectators and those involved with swimming teams or programs at the Wawasee Middle School Natatorium. Extensive renovations have been completed (though a few items remain unfinished) within the last few months and it will take some time before the full effect is known.
Anyone who has attended a high school swimming meet, particularly before this season, has felt the warmth and humidity in the pool area.
Concerns have been expressed about the lighting, air flow around the pool and temperature in the pool area. The high level of humidity became a major concern earlier this year when several rusted metal joists were discovered in the roof above the pool. Wawasee Community School Corp. Superintendent Dr. Tom Edington addressed those concerns.
Lighting has certainly changed, he acknowledged. “The lighting is different,” he said. “We had to tear out about two-thirds of the metal in the roof. We have to adhere to (IHSAA) lighting code. You can only have so much electricity running the lights. It’s 1 watt per square foot and you can’t have fixtures over the water.”
Edington provided a copy of a letter from Ron Scheele, engineer for Barton-Coe-Vilamaa in Fort Wayne, which stated the power consumption levels of traditional indirect light fixtures varied from 2.4 to 2.6 watts per square foot. “To use traditional indirect lighting and meet Indiana energy code, we would have had to design with less than half of the IHSAA light level,” Scheele said in the letter.
There is less light in the middle of the pool, but more on the outside edges and it is designed to bounce into the middle of the pool, Edington noted. “Before, the lights came down from the ceiling,” he said. “It (lighting) now meets IHSAA code.”
Lighting technology and standards change often, too.
Movement of air was addressed by installing a new air unit, vents and fans. “It has increased the way air comes in,” he said. “It’s enough to create ripples on the water.”
A big air unit above the storeroom was replaced. “The other one did not dry the air out well,” Edington noted. “It did not remove the humidity. There was still no air movement close to the water. The movement was higher.”
Vents are now close to the floor level and the air comes down the walls and finds its way into the vents, he added. Four new fans were installed.
“The air unit sat for nearly six months without running,” he said, taking into account the summer break and the first couple of months of the present school year. “We had to do some troubleshooting after starting it up.”
A thermostat was moved, too, because it was located too close to a door that when opened let in the cold outside air. It was causing the warmer air to kick on too often, Edington noted.
He said the big air unit does not have a purging unit that takes air out and replaces it with new air. “You don’t want 30 degree air above 80 degree water,” he said.
Another change included installing a new UV filter to remove organic materials from the water. Weekly the pool is tested for bacteria and also the chlorine levels. Reports are submitted to the state and so far the results have met the required standards.
Edington said he is aware of a particular concern expressed about some kids having problems breathing during swimming practice. “We have been working with the swimming coach,” he said, in addition to installing the new UV filter, cleaning out existing equipment, installing the new vents and also using new monitoring equipment.
He said exercise routines of swimmers are being monitored, too, to determine if any problems develop because they exercise both in and out of the pool, such as when they go to the weight room, for an example.
The age of the pool should also be taken into account, he cautioned. It is now more than 20 years old and only so much can be done to improve it. Newer pools, such as the one at Northridge High School, are designed differently.
A few items have yet to be finished at the WMS pool, such as parts associated with the diving board, the record board and others.