Rita Husmann smiles as she shows of the recovered banner given to her while North Hill Resouces crews demolish the Hal Moe Pool on Monday in Snohomish. Husmann says her kids all swam at the there and she got her lifesaving certificate at the pool. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Rita Husmann smiles as she shows of the recovered banner given to her while North Hill Resouces crews demolish the Hal Moe Pool on Monday in Snohomish. Husmann says her kids all swam at the there and she got her lifesaving certificate at the pool. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Snohomish swimmers remember Hal Moe pool

The pool closed in 2007 and its building recently was demolished. A new aquatic center opened in 2014.

SNOHOMISH — Hal Moe Pool has seen daylight again, but this time there’s no water.

The old swim center in Snohomish was demolished last week. It started as an outdoor pool built by the city in 1972. The school district bought it in 1989 and built a cover for high school sports. It was named after a beloved superintendent who died in 1969.

Rob Serviss has been swimming in Snohomish for most of his life. He started taking lessons at Hal Moe when he was 7, and it was still outside.

“I grew up there, literally,” Serviss said. “I went from being a little 16-year-old who had never worked before, never had that much of a sense of personal responsibility, to being a leader there.”

He was in swim clubs and joined the high school team his sophomore year. His first job was as a lifeguard there. He graduated in 1995 and went to Central Washington University. He drove home every weekend to manage the pool, and made his way back to Ellensburg every Sunday night.

Serviss coaches swimming at Snohomish and Glacier Peak high schools and manages the city’s new aquatic center. He started coaching in 2001 but is stepping away after this year, he said.

Hal Moe closed in 2007, and the Snohomish Aquatic Center opened in 2014. With no pool in Snohomish, the swim team practiced in Woodinville and later Mukilteo.

“When we lost Hal Moe, we lost those kids who just wanted to give it a shot,” Serviss said. “We just got smaller and smaller. Snohomish used to dominate swimming in this area. We won everything. When we lost the pool, that slowly started to change.”

At one point, about 15 boys and girls participated at each school. Now there are around 80. The modern aquatic center has done its job, he said.

Serviss’ former coach, John Pringle, helped plan the new building once Hal Moe closed.

“I’m so proud of Rob,” Pringle said. “I couldn’t be more proud of how things are being carried on. It’s unfortunate we had to have that break, but I’m pleased our work is not for nothing.”

Pringle was hired as the aquatics coordinator at Hal Moe in 1990, when the building to cover the pool was still under construction. He coached the swim team’s first season. Only once did the Panthers not win a district championship during the 17 years he was there.

Without a pool, there was only so much work for Pringle. A new facility wasn’t going to open for at least seven more years. He was laid off five months after Hal Moe closed. Pringle now is the aquatics coordinator at Wenatchee High School.

Hal Moe was made of wood and plaster, he said. It was only supposed to last 10 years.

“It really wasn’t anything special. It was an outdoor structure with a roof slapped over it,” he said. “There was not a lot of fluff to it.”

Humidity from the pools destroyed the room.

Tiles were falling from the ceiling, and the roof started to rot. Brown water dripped from the cracks in the walls. The acoustics were shot, which made it incredibly loud.

“At some point, old is old,” Pringle said. “You have to redo it or replace it. It really wasn’t going to meet the needs of the community in that configuration, anyway.”

Erica Cenci was also one of Pringle’s students. She started swimming at Hal Moe when she was 10 and joined the high school team as a freshman in 1998. Her last name was Chandler then. Now, she brings her daughter to the Snohomish Aquatic Center. They live in Seattle, but Cenci’s parents live in Snohomish.

Cenci can remember her coaches giving advice from the pool deck. She remembers the air quality was not good, and the announcer’s voice would boom through the room. The building was always bustling, she said. Her team would be swimming laps as others were diving and the cross country team was running around the pools.

She practiced every morning and afternoon. Her team won state championships three out of four years she was there. Her photo hung from the walls, celebrating the victories.

“I was probably one of the more intense swimmers. I was pretty into it,” Cenci said.

Those photos are now at the aquatic center. She’s not sad Hal Moe is gone, because of the new facility.

“It needed to close, there was a reason they did it,” Cenci said. “What they built in its place is phenomenal.”

The old building was taken down in one day. It couldn’t have been saved as a historic property because it was less than 50 years old. Once debris is cleared, the pools will be filled and grass seed planted. People should be able to use the space by mid-July, but project manager Denise Johns expects it to be sooner.

The city is working with the community to decide what to put there, she said. The plan is to make it into a park with covered areas and event space.

The project is expected to cost about $713,000. Johns has applied for grants and hopes the city ends up paying about $285,000.

The red letters that spelled “Hal Moe Pool” on the side of the building are in Mayor John Kartak’s office, Johns said. She isn’t sure where they’ll go.

Cenci, Pringle and Serviss all agree it was time for the old building to come down.

It was in “horrible decay,” Serviss said. “What it looks like now is not anything like what I remember, and for me, the memory of Hal Moe exists in my mind.”

Stephanie Davey: 425-339-3192; sdavey@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @stephrdavey.

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