Texas Border Business
SAN JUAN/ALAMO – The Pharr-San Juan-Alamo Independent School District hosted two groundbreaking ceremonies, today, Aug.16 for new swimming facilities at PSJA Early College High School in San Juan and PSJA Memorial ECHS in Alamo.
The project, which totals $11.8 million combined, will equip each of the two campuses mentioned with its own swimming facility that includes an instructional pool and a competition pool. The competition pool—which will also be known as the practice pool— will have 10 lanes and be 25-yards by 25-meters in size. The instructional pool will have three lanes, be 3 ft. in depth and be ADA accessible as there will be a sloped entryway. The 6,989 sq.ft. facility will also include a spectator seating area for 175 people, a large multi-purpose classroom, dressing room, showers with lockers, restroom facilities and an office area. Although the pools will be outdoors, they will have a canopy to provide shade for the swimmers.
All PSJA ISD swimmers currently use the Pharr Aquatics Center for practice and competition, but the rapid growth of the program and its success prompted these additions.
“We are about education, but we are also about quality of life,” said PSJA ISD Superintendent Dr. Daniel King. “We serve almost 33,000 students at 43 campuses, and we are really trying to move toward each feeder pattern having a pool to serve those students. One of the issues we struggle with today is that young people don’t get out and exercise, so anything like this that we can do to get our young people to have fun and exercise is important.”
During the last decade, PSJA ISD has done over half a billion dollars of construction with the support of its tri-city community. According to Dr. King, it is that commitment from the community of always wanting the best for students, and the great vision and leadership from our school board over the years that continues today, that makes PSJA a leader in many ways.
“We want to make sure our students get the very best,” said PSJA School Board President Jesse Zambrano. “We also want to make sure that the school district and the city work together to create programs for our kids. Growing up, some of us didn’t have the opportunity to take swimming lessons, but we want to make sure that our community has those opportunities.”
Those opportunities open doors to new programs, events and activities that PSJA Aquatics Director Jonathan Landero also hopes students and community members can take full advantage of.
“We’ll be serving elementary students, kids with special needs, we’ll be teaching kids how to swim, improving the competitive teams, water polo, have summer programs and diving clubs,” he said. “There are so many ideas going through my brain, I can’t even list all the things we want to do.”
And for PSJA ECHS Sophomore Natalie Bravo, the new facility is not only a chance for more pool time, but a way to further unite the communities.
“I’m really excited because I’m going to get more practice so I’m going to get better and it’s going to make a big difference,” said Bravo, who plans to continue to be part of an aquatic program in college. “We’re going to be doing big things, and we’re going to get better and we’re going to grow and I’m really excited for that. We’re going to be a bigger family because we’re four teams, one heart.”