Niles North High School's new $15.1 million Aquatics Center had its grand opening last weekend, and visitors got to see both the large competitive pool with separate swimming and diving areas and the renovated existing pool.
The new pool has a light-filled space, modern design, wide decks, storage and spectator seating, announcer's area, spacious and secure entry area and a concession stand.
it also has lots of well-thought-out little touches. These include a harness for beginning divers, so their coaches can literally stop them in midair if they're about to hit the water painfully, to a video screen where coaches and divers can review the divers' form, to a design that will allow heavy mechanical equipment to be raised up from the basement if it needs to be replaced 30 or 40 years from now.
Earlier: Niles North Opens $15.1 Million Aquatic Center
And though the pools are a pleasant blue color, they're green in the sense that they are slated to be the first aquatics center in Illinois to receive LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) gold certification from the U.S. Building Council.
For athletes, all students and a community swim club
As Karl Costello, Niles North's athletic director, shows visitors the diving platform, he points out that while the facility will be great for athletes, others, including community members, will be able to use it too.
Pointing to one diving board higher than the others, Costello, Niles North's athletic director, said, "We have a three-meter board, and that's not in high school diving."
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It's used in Swift Aquatics, District 219's community aquatics club, which permits member swimmers from age 7 and up to compete in swimming, diving and water polo events.
Starting in competitions from a young age prepares swimmers to better compete in high school events, he explained.
"When I first came here, some freshmen had never swum in swim meets before," he said, adding that put them at a disadvantage compared to other high schools which had swim meet veterans.
The girls' swim season is taking place now, and the Niles North Vikings' first meet in the new aquatics center was held against the Niles West Wolves.
"All the girls know each other from Swift," Costello said. "When we competed against West, the girsl congratulated each other. The competition was fierce but there's sportsmanlike behavior, and it builds community."
Stats on the aquatic center
Some stats on the new pools, provided by architect Legat Architects, include the following.
The 24,600-square-foot addition and 14,000-square-foot renovation respond with two pools:
- The new south “cold” pool can accommodate a 25-yard, 25-meter, or water polo course. Its mezzanine seats close to 500.
- The diving well offers a diving platform, three diving boards, a video recording system, and viewing stations.
- A movable bulkhead safely separates swimming and diving events.
- Renovations enlarged and deepened the north pool, now equipped with efficient lighting and mechanical systems. This “warm” pool will host a year-round community competitive swim program, and community learn-to-swim programs.
- A concourse area between the pools offers a meeting/teaching area, coaches’ offices with views to both pools, storage, and deck space for training.
- The natural light that fills the Aquatics Center attests to the facility’s energy efficiency. It is on track to become the first facility of its kind in Illinois to achieve LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) for Schools Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. The credential applauds school design that promotes operational efficiency, reduces environmental impacts, and respects students’ health.
- The Aquatics Center design reduces energy use by 44% compared to a standard code-compliant building of similar size and function, resulting in annual energy savings of 31.5%.
- Its energy-efficient features include:
- • Lighting: daylight harvesting system, lighting controls, occupancy sensors, LED fixtures
• Water-efficient systems that reduce water use by 42% compared to industry standards
• Heat recovery dehumidification units that reduce CO2 emissions by 65%
To see photos of the construction work done on the two pools, click here.