When asked for a solution, Todd suggested Whitfield County build a pool of their own.
“I know (coach) Marta (Hannah) at Northwest and (coach) Todd (Ogas) at Coahulla Creek would love a pool at their schools,” Todd said. “Somebody’s got to fund it, though. ... It’s a lot cheaper for them to pay rent than build a pool.”
Funding is a roadblock.
“I wish,” Lentych said. “There’s tons of things I’d love to do for our athletics if we could fund them.”
It could happen.
Dalton Parks and Recreation Director Steve Card said there have been discussions of building a community natatorium, a community center with an indoor swimming pool.
“The reason we’re looking at that for some of the situations (like this),” Card said.
He said there are officials with numerous groups he’d like to speak with — the city of Dalton, Whitfield County Board of Commissioners, the Dalton Public Schools, Whitfield County Schools and Dalton State College.
“We have some very tentative ideas out there than over the next month or two we’ll be looking to meet with those possible partners to see if they want to move forward on and also present to the community to see if they’d support,” Card said. “Not only is the need for competitive pool space, which is the CCAC and all the school systems, but also to increase the swim lessons that we’re able to offer and provide a safer community as long as health benefits for exercise programs. So it would be a much broader reach for it to be successful in this community.”
With anything far from finalized, one question is cost. Card didn’t know, because the parameters of the natatorium idea are still up in the air.
“Without meeting with the groups to see what would service their needs, that number could fluctuate by millions of dollars,” Card said. “ ... At the very least, several million dollars.”
Whitfield County Recreation Department Director Brian Chastain said he hasn’t been approached specifically about helping fund a new indoor pool facility for local high school teams.
“I know the city of Dalton was pushing to have a big indoor pool,” he said. “I think maybe the two school systems could come together to build one. I don’t know that it has even been considered with them.”
Chastain believes it would be a “great idea” to have a facility in the county for teams to use.
“I don’t think the school system could build one for each school, but I think you could have one centrally located,” he said.
Hannah and Ogas agree with Chastain and Todd.
“I think the general consensus around the county, at least with the coaches, is if we add the demands then the supply will show up,” Ogas said. “Another team certainly makes it crowded there, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it this upcoming season. I’m hoping this pushes the need a little further for a new facility.”
Said Hannah, “Hopefully in the future, Whitfield County can build a pool for our schools. Right now, we want to start middle schools in swimming, but we can’t because there isn’t a pool for us.”