COLDWATER – The Coldwater girls’ swimming and diving team will make history Thursday night — just by getting in the pool.
The Cardinals are hosting Sturgis for what is the first home meet in Coldwater High School history, as this inaugural season was made possible by a nearly $15 million donation for a new aquatic center.
“We’ve talked about it quite a bit, ‘You are making history and doing wonderful things and everybody is going to be on the record board,’” said Coldwater coach Jaci Hoorman. “I do think they know the pressure is there and maybe that’s why there might be a mixture of nerves and excitement.”
Dr. Robert W. Browne and his late wife, Lynn, made the financial commitment of funding nearly $15 million for a major expansion of recreational facilities, including a new aquatic center constructed on the grounds of Legg Middle School. The Dr. Robert W. Browne Aquatic Center features an Olympic competition pool along with a smaller, warm water exercise and therapy pool.
Dr. Browne is a 1942 graduate of Coldwater High School who served in WWII as a bomber pilot. He returned from the war and became an orthodontist, a successful businessman and philanthropist in the Grand Rapids area.
At the dedication in July of this year, Browne said, “Much has been given to me by my hometown of Coldwater, in particular, the Coldwater class of 1942. The character of that class and its integrity provided a most healthy environment for me during my years of maturation…. I should like it to be known as a gift from the Coldwater High School class of 1942. And may both the school children and community enjoy these facilities for many years to come.”
Coldwater currently has a 16-member team that competes as a varsity, sanctioned by the Michigan High School Athletic Association. Each team member came into the season with various levels of experience in competitive swimming. Hoorman said two of her swimmers had previously competed in nearby Angola, Ind., and four athletes are foreign exchange students. The majority of the team is made up of freshmen.
There are plans to hang up pool and school record boards at the facility, meaning every top time and dive score this season will be Coldwater benchmarks, at least temporarily.
“The season is going really well,” Hoorman said. “Can’t ask for anything more — the girls are dropping times every time they get in the water. They are working super hard.”
The aquatic center has been open to the community, and this summer, Coldwater started up the ‘Barracuda Swim Club.’ The school’s first boys’ swimming and diving team will take to the water this winter.
But first, the girls’ team has the opportunity to break in the new pool. And that means a lot of logistics to take care of ahead of the first meet.
“Every facility is different,” Hoorman said. “How to set it up, where to put people for timing, where to put the judges, the lifeguard. There’s been a lot of outside work going into it, some of the parents have been stepping up and making sure we have everything we need.”
The first home meet begins at 6 p.m. and Hoorman said she expects a big crowd to be on hand for the historic night.
“I think people will come out because they want to see it,” she said. “They will be quite shocked as well as excited.”
Nick Buckley can be reached at [email protected] or 269-966-0652. Follow him on Twitter:@NickJBuckley
COLDWATER GIRLS’ SWIMMING & DIVING
Eva Arriba Cores, sr.
Ella Budd, fr.
Darien Dyer, sr.
Madisen Fox, jr.
Meredith Grife, fr.
Lina Hesselmann, sr.
Megan Heath, sr.
Jayda Kelly, fr.
Madison Marsh, jr.
Heather Neitzka, jr.
Kenydee Otto, so.
Erica Rodgers, fr.
Kory Ulrich, fr.
Erin Yearling, jr.
Head Coaches: Jaci Hoorman & Kristin Lyon