School hopes to build Olympic-Sized Pool at Leonard Aquatic Complex, possibly in 2015

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Elizabeth Miller

By Elizabeth Miller ’15, Co Editor-in-Chief

 

During his first annual State of the School, Head of School Robert Macrae unveiled exciting new plans for a pool complex. About a year ago, Mike and Susan Leonard donated $2.5 million to Country Day in order to build a new pool complex. Mr. Leonard was a lifer at Country Day, their daughter, Katie Leonard, graduated in 2012, and they currently have grandchildren enrolled at the school. Both strongly believe that swimming is a very important part of athletics at Country Day. Dr. Macrae explained that at Country Day, the role of the pool “ranges from children in kindergarten with the very basics of swimming, to having competitive swim teams in middle and high school,” so it is an integral part of athletics in the community.

After spending

the last few years focusing on outdoor facilities on the east side of campus, like the Gordon R. Wright Tennis Complex, and continuing to maintain the high quality grass fields, it has become clear to Dr. Macrae that the school’s “indoor facilities really under-represent Country Day’s commitment to athletics.” One of the best ways to enhance them is through the development of the pool complex.

With the generous grant from the Leonard family, the current vision for the project is to create the “best facility on the East Side of Cincinnati,” or even in the entire Greater Cincinnati area. If nothing else, it “ensures [that] we’re building something really good,” a reassuring factor for Dr. Macrae. However, the extent of the project will be determined by not only contributions from donors, alumni, and parents, but by coordination with the Cincinnati Aquatic Club, which is hosted at school. The Leonards have made it clear that the pool complex will be for Country Day, not CAC, but fundraising from the club team will help to “provide additional features for the pool,” such as a larger seating capacity, changing rooms, meeting rooms, and coaches’ rooms.

Dr. Macrae made it clear that there is still a “lot of problem solving that needs to happen” before any definite plans are made. The main issue is the uncertainty about the north side of campus, such as where to put the Early Childhood House, the maintenance shed, the driveway, and the Playscape, and then where the pool complex would fit into the equation. There is also the question of what to do with the current pool, for which the present solution is turning it into a youth basketball practice gym to accommodate youth sports.

The desire expressed by the Leonards and strongly supported by Dr. Macrae and others involved in the project is for the complex to contain an Olympic-sized pool, which is 50 meters long, twice the length of the current pool. However, the realization of this dream depends on fundraising from the Country Day community and CAC. As Dr. Macrae explained, “we need to build something of really good quality [that] we can afford,” as the school is not taking on any debts in the building project.

Still in the early stages of planning, an “aggressive” starting date for the project is March 2015. Construction would take about one school year. As for now, the Country Day community will have to wait and see what will become of this amazing effort to enhance the school’s athletic facilities.