Gulfport discusses possible natatorium

Gulfport High Swim Team practices at the Collins Fitness Center. (Photo source: WLOX News)
Gulfport High Swim Team practices at the Collins Fitness Center. (Photo source: WLOX News)

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - A new recreational facility could be in talks soon in the City of Gulfport. The facility is getting swimmers in the area excited, because it includes a possible natatorium. The beginning stages of the indoor pool were discussed in a council meeting Tuesday.

Right now, it's only a possibility. But, it's closer to reality than it ever has been. Councilwoman, Cara Pucheu, said she's been pushing the idea of a natatorium for five years. But, before now, the economy just didn't agree.

"It's just now getting to where we can take a look at that," said Pucheu.

So, the city could soon be conducting a feasibility study on the possibility of building such a facility.

"It's a great venue for many events," said Pucheu.

Events that would make good use of a natatorium high school swim meets. Kevin Peterman knows the importance of an indoor pool when it comes to a swim team. He's been Gulfport high's coach for five years.

The team has been practicing at the Collins Fitness Center pool for as long as he can remember.

"Golly, we need it. We need it bad. Gulfport's not the only school that needs it," said Peterman.

He says other area schools such as Harrison Central, West Harrison, D'Iberville, and Saint Patrick could get good use out of an indoor pool. But, this isn't the first time he's heard of a project like this.

"You know, talk is there. We have people interested, but it's tough. It's tough to get done, they're not cheap," said Peterman.

He's grown the high school's swim team from seven to 40 in his five years. He feels that some of his athletes are limited in what they can accomplish. Some of the swimmers feel the same way.

"Keeps us stuck in short-course season, which is the beginning of the school year," said senior, Matthew Richardson.

With the practice pool being outdoors, weather is a big factor.

If any of the swimmers want to compete year round, they have to go to Biloxi's indoor pool.

"That just takes away from our working together as a team. It also takes away from our profits as a community," said sophomore, Bailey Emmer.

These athletes think that giving their area a place to swim indoors could make a big splash in the city. Councilwoman Pucheu said once a feasibility study is underway, it could take as many as 60 days to complete. She also said it's too early to say how long the construction of such a facility would take.

Copyright 2014 WLOX. All rights reserved.