Hope floats for the Bingham High swim team with new practice lap lanes at the South Jordan Rec CenterAug 11, 2023 10:32AM ● By Ella Joy Olsen
Swimmers from Bingham High hold signs directing people to a fundraising carwash. The team contributed $1,500 towards new lap lanes slated for completion in January 2025 at the South Jordan Recreation Center. (Photo courtesy David Alvord)
One wouldn’t think that a hazardous drive would be one of the biggest obstacles to becoming a champion swimmer, but for the Bingham High Swim Team, it has been.
Drive time between Bingham High and the current practice pool at the Kearns Oquirrh Park Facility is clocked at 15 minutes minimum along the speedy Bangerter Highway.
“The posted speed limit is 60 but it seems like even if I’m going 70 people are tailgating me like I’m a 90-year-old in a broken Buick,” frequent commuter Madilyn Miller said.
Officer Sam Winkler with the West Jordan Police Department agrees. “[We issue] not just speeding violations but excessive speeding violations, speeds hitting upwards into the triple digits here on Bangerter Highway."
And these young swimmers (and newly-minted drivers) make the commute at all hours and in all weather conditions.
“We drive back and forth from the school to the pool about four times a day, three times a week,” swimmer Teagan Ross said. “Driving during rush hour is dangerous, especially for the newest drivers. We’ve had two different accidents this season.”
Fellow swimmer Kennedy Schott added, “We meet at the pool at 4:30 in the morning, then again after school at 3:30. On meet days we’ll start early, practice, attend a full day of school then stay at the pool until 9 p.m.”
But like in the Sandra Bullock movie, sometimes “Hope Floats.”
In June, the Salt Lake County Council unanimously voted to allocate funding for a long-awaited lap lane expansion project at the South Jordan Aquatic and Fitness Center at 10866 S. Redwood Road, which will cut commute time between Bingham High and the practice pool from 15 minutes to just four, routed along much easier-to-navigate roads.
Construction on the project is slated to start this fall and should be finished by January 2025. During much of construction, the existing pool at the South Jordan Recreation Center will be closed, but the existing pool will be refreshed, and pass holders will have access to other pools across the county system.
“This upgrade is good for the community at large,” Corrine Johnson, senior policy adviser to District 2 Councilman David Alvord, said. “Currently at South Jordan Rec there are no swim lessons, no water aerobics, no adult programming because there are no lanes for it.”
The project has been five years in the making.
In 2019 the Marv Jensen Recreation Center was closed due to structural issues and proceeds from the sale of the building were tagged to build a new swim center. But proceeds from the sale fell short, then Covid-19 hit, then inflation drove up costs and hopes of completing the project started to sink.
That’s when the community got serious about options. “We needed to think outside the box,” Councilwoman Laurie Stringham said, who has a background in parks and rec. “And that is exactly what we did.”
The original plan was for a state-of-the-art competition pool, but it was out of budget. They pondered a pop-up structure, and finally adjusted the scope to seven new lap lanes which will be added to the existing South Jordan Aquatic and Fitness Center. This brought the proposed cost from roughly $15 million to around $9 million.
Salt Lake County, the Jordan School District and South Jordan City all contributed funding in an unprecedented show of financial support and coordination from county, city and school district.
The Bingham High swim team also did their part by raising $1,500 at a carwash fundraiser held before school let out for the summer. “Though it was a cloudy day with threatening rain, they had non-stop business for two and a half hours. The community really supports this project,” Councilman Dave Alvord said, who had three of his own cars washed that day.
The team proceeds will go toward the bleachers and timing systems that will be installed at the new pool. Swimmers presented their check to the council at the June meeting and council members then voted unanimously to fund the project. λ