History of Tooele High School Swimming
When the Tooele Memorial Swimming Pool was constructed in 1950, there was a ledge built in the shallow end that was used as a teaching platform. It was about 1 foot under the surface of the water and about 3 feet wide. A bulkhead was constructed which made the pool 20 yards long for meets. Every time a meet was held, the team would bring the bulkhead up from the basement and using face masks and snorkels would bolt the sections together, put on the top and attach the starting blocks.
In 1960, the ledge was chipped out so the bulkhead would not have to be assembled and a 25 yard pool could be used for meets. The times for the first meet in the 25 yard pool produced real slow times compared to what the swimmers had been doing. When a tape measure was produced, it was discovered the pool was 25 yards and 11 inches long. This necessitated use of the bulkhead again until it became so unstable it could no longer be used.
The 25 yard 11 inch pool was used until 1976 when it was shortened to exactly 25 yards. The last state meet in the Tooele pool was in 1963 which was also the last time the Utah State Championships were held in a 20 yard pool.
The Tooele Memorial Swimming Pool was closed forever in March 2001. Being structurally unsound, it was demolished in December of that same year. Construction of a new aquatic center began in May of 2002 and was completed one year later.
During the two year interim between the closing of the old pool and the opening of the new aquatic center, Tooele High School practiced primarily at the Deseret Peak outdoor pool and Cyprus High School. All of the meets were away and long bus trips became the norm.
Practices at Deseret Peak during the winter were an adventure with the girls dressing in the concession stand and boys in the filter room. A “Porta Potty” was set up and sometimes the swimmers stood in long lines waiting their turn. Ice on the deck was always a problem and luckily no one suffered a serious injury. The wind was also a factor as it always seemed to be blowing which cooled off the water.
In addition to the daily bus trips to Deseret Peak, the trips to Magna and West Valley for practice were long and required quite a sacrifice of time for the swimmers, but a special bond between members was established due to the sacrifices they all made and they were very “tough” come the championship meets. The boy’s team won their first state title since 1985 in 2002 and the girls finished third. Both teams battled to second place finishes in 2003.
In May of 2003, the four million dollar Leigh Pratt Aquatic Center became the “home” pool for Tooele High School. An eight lane state of the art competition pool with scoreboard and team room helped to build a foundation for continuing the tradition of championship swimming teams in Tooele. In 2004, donations from alumni and friends of swimming amounting to nearly $21,000 was used for a new record board, sound system, upgrading the scoreboard and a large American flag which made the Pratt Aquatic Center one of the finest facilities in the country.