Carly Tautges figures to be at least two years removed from Century High School when its swimmers and divers would be plunging into a potentially new swimming pool at the school.
But Tautges still can’t help but be tantalized by the possibility, even if it wouldn’t benefit her directly.
She’s been a part of the Century swimming and diving team long enough now — three years — to know what a boon it would be.
What happens if the proposed $180.9 million school bond doesn't get a majority of voter approval after polls close Nov. 5?
During a match two years ago, a Century High School swimmer took position on the starting block only to have the block mount collapse underneath him.
So yes, even enjoying the pool vicariously would leave her giddy.
“Century having its own pool is something we’d love to have,” said Tautges, a Century senior swimmer. “It would bring us together so much as a team. As we have it now, our divers are never with us.”
Century opened its doors in 1997. It did so minus a swimming pool, a cost-saving measure at the time. That’s required the Century girls and boys teams to have been nomads all these years, its swimmers mostly practicing at Willow Creek Middle School and Mayo High School, and its divers heading where all of Rochester’s high school divers head, to John Marshall High School, Rochester’s only school with a legal diving area.
Depending on how referendum votes go on Nov. 5, all of that could change. Voters are being faced with a two-pronged decision. The first centers on addressing capacity at Rochester elementary and middle schools, safety at school sites, land purchases for future school growth and auditorium upgrades at all three public high schools. Investing in those projects would fall in the $171.4 million range.
The second question is a $9.5 million one and centers on Rochester public school pools and can only pass if the $171.4 million vote also passes. The proposal is a competition pool at Century, updates to the pool dive well at Mayo, as well as closing the dated middle school pools in order to save money and reduce operating costs. Middle school curriculum swim units would then shift to the upgraded Rochester public high school pools.
Century girls swim/dive coach Dale Magnuson says that $180.9 million combined investment isn’t nearly as daunting as it sounds.
“It would be a tax increase for people of about $48 a year,” Magnuson said. “I hope people are willing to invest $4 a month to help with a life-long sport. I hope people can see the benefit of what we can do here.”
What Magnuson has done with the Century girls and Linda Freeman the Century boys swim/dive teams — both having built their programs into Big Nine Conference powers — has been remarkable. That’s especially true considering all of the hopping around they and their athletes have had to do to make things work.
Not only do Magnuson and his swimmers have to transport to Willow Creek for practices (Freeman’s boys swimmers head to Mayo during their winter season), but he is at that pool from 4:30-8 p.m. up to six days per week with his 60-member squad. First he directs the junior varsity from 4:30-6 p.m., then the varsity from 6-8 p.m. His team would get in the Willow Creek pool immediately after school were it not for a community education swimming program that doesn’t finish there until 4:30 p.m. each day.
“People don’t realize how little pool space we have in Rochester,” Magnuson said. “And Rochester is one of the largest swimming entities in the state and even the Midwest. It’s a huge swimming community. Every day, we practice in a pool (Willow Creek) that we never compete in and every year that is a discussion point for our parents, that wouldn’t it be nice if Century had a place to compete in.”
Instead of having their own competition site, Century’s meets are at John Marshall. That’s hardly ideal, and it becomes Grand Central Station-like when Mayo is also hosting a meet the same day. Then, divers from both meets flock to JM for their respective competitions, with it possessing the only legal diving area among Rochester’s public schools. Century and Mayo would utilize the Rochester Recreation Center pool for competitions if they could, but that pool is solidly booked by the Rochester Swim Club.
Century Activities Director Mark Kuisle notes that Century and Mayo are the only schools in the Big Nine Conference that send their divers elsewhere to practice and compete. He also notes that things become even more complicated when an athlete swims and dives in a meet, with them then having to shift from site to site.
“We are continually juggling to move diving practices around, or Mayo competition dates around,” Kuisle said. “There have been some very significant snafus with it over the years.”
Depending on how voters respond on Nov. 5, those snafus have the potential to be a thing of the past.