Serviss, the coach of the Snohomish and Glacier Peak boys swim teams, ran the show Tuesday afternoon as the Snohomish Aquatic Center hosted its first-ever swimming competition. The opening of the pool was the first home meet for the Panthers and Grizzlies since Hal Moe Pool closed in 2007.
"I can't put into words how nice it is to have a home pool again," Serviss said. "It's been a long, long time and not only do we have a home pool but we have an amazing home pool. I'm a pretty articulate guy and I lack the words to describe how great it is to have a meet here and what it means to these kids and what it means to me.
Serviss was consulted heavily during the construction of the facility, which will host Snohomish and Glacier Peak swimming practices and meets, as well as club swimming and community events.
"My suggestions were lots and lots of water," Serviss said. "And make it deep. It's really set up to be great for competitive swimming. I couldn't be happier. I love it. I love everything about it."
The coach got to debut his new pool with a meet was against teams from Marysville Pilchuck, Marysville Getchell and Cascade, which is coached by Eric Smith.
"It looks like they did everything right," Smith said. "This is my first hour and a half in the building and the little things are the things I'm noticing. The deck space, the seating, you name it. … It is amazing. Bar none. It really stands out, not just in Snohomish County, but in the state as a quality facility."
The stands, which can hold up to 420 spectators, were filled with parents, fans, students, community members and even some people finishing up swimming lessons in the adjacent family pool that decided to come over and check the races out.
The only maintenance issue seemed to be with lane six, which had a malfunctioning timer. Serviss isn't concerned.
"There's always going to be stuff, especially the first time, that maybe doesn't work quite like you're expecting it too," Serviss said. "I'm not sure what's going on with the scoreboard in that lane but it's just a standard hiccup. We're not too worried about it.
"The challenge is just that everything is new. We've never done any of this before. There's a lot of small parts that go into running a meet. It's just been learning the process and we're still doing that. We'll figure it out in the couple meets we have left this year and we'll keep getting more efficient at it."
Everyone in attendance seemed pleased with the facility, which had its grand opening last weekend. The Snohomish Aquatic Center features a 10-lane competition pool with two diving boards, as well as a family pool that has a playground, river course and slide. The 52,000 square-foot building was constructed with funds from a 2008 bond, which was also used to renovate Snohomish High School and other district-wide improvements.
"It's unbelievable, the layout. It's just gorgeous. I'm jealous," said Marysville Athletic Director Greg Erickson, who was on hand for the meet.
Before the meet officially began, Serviss — who was in a blue "Snohomish Aquatic Center" polo — welcomed visitors to the first-ever competitive meet at the facility.
"Welcome to the brand new — and stunningly gorgeous — Snohomish Aquatic Center," he said over a microphone.
In the first heat of the first race at Snohomish Aquatic Center, the 200-medley relay, went to a junior varsity team from Marysville Pilchuck. The official winner of the event was, fittingly, the Snohomish relay team of Easton Lemos, Evan Campbell, Brandon Fairhurst and Jacob Rudolph.
"It feels great," Lemos said of having a home pool. "I've been waiting for this day for four years. It feels good that we're home. Our friends can come out and watch us."
"I like a place that's actually ours," added senior Max Cossalter, from Glacier Peak. "We're not borrowing or renting it. It's ours to keep and it's not going away."
In the dual-meet format, Cascade won against Snohomish, Glacier Peak, Marysville Getchell and Marysville Pilchuck. However, both Snohomish schools won two meets, against Marysville Pilchuck and Marysville Getchell.
The Grizzlies and Panthers, as a co-op program, don't swim against each other.
"It's really exciting. I told all the guys this is our first meet here — it's the first meet ever — so if you win the event you set the pool record," Smith said. "So I've got kids coming up going, 'I won! I won!' So at least until the next meet they've got a pool record."
It is the first meet at the SAC which will host additional meets on Thursday (against Lake Stevens) and Feb. 4 (against Kamiak, Monroe and Cascade). The facility will also likely venture into postseason tournaments starting next season hosting the 3A and 4A district tournaments, which are currently held at Marysville Pilchuck and Kamiak.
"Districts will come here," Erickson said. "In the future. Not this year, this being so new we even talked about it. We didn't know for sure when it was going to open. This is the first meet ever. Districts is in three weeks. It's better for them to get their feet wet, no pun intended, and work out the bugs — if there are any – and then next year I would anticipate that they would probably be hosting both the 3A and 4A."
It might take until next February for it all to sink in for the Grizzlies and Panthers.
"If you look around you can see that it's a beautiful building," Serviss said. "My kids were crying the first time they were in here. They got to be a part of the Grand Opening and everybody in the community, especially on our swim team, has a lot to be thankful for. We're just very, very grateful for all of it."
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