Walker Natatorium opens

Ben Cohen, breaking news editor

The Walker Natatorium opened Wednesday, Sept. 30. Dr. Michael Havener, principal, got on the microphone, counted to three and shouted “jump,” and the swimmers all dove in.

“I don’t know if words can describe how excited we are,” Matt Beasley, swim and dive coach, said. “[Everyone celebrated] by screaming, cheering, jumping in and going crazy. Not only a facility on campus, but such an amazing state-of-the-art facility.”

KHS announced the Walker Foundation donated $10 million for a new pool at the end of the 2014 school year. The grant is the largest for a public school in Missouri history. The natatorium was expected to open Aug. 17 but was delayed by more than a month past the original opening day. The pool has eight lanes and an extra three lanes for warming up and cooling down.

“The pool is spectacular,” Matt Imiolek, swim captain, said.  “We feel so much more connected to the school already because instead of walking out to the Meramec parking lot, we walk back onto the school’s campus.”

The current campus of Kirkwood High School was built in 1955. Sixty years and three swimming championships later, KHS has a pool. Beasley said when he started coaching six years ago, he never thought KHS would have a pool.

“Kirkwood has a strong swimming tradition,” Beasley said. “A couple of years when they announced [the pool], it was a shock. It all kind of came to the forefront and I was thinking this was going to be pretty cool.”