Biloxi Natatorium Reopens In Time For Summer Camps - - The News for South Mississippi

Biloxi Natatorium Reopens In Time For Summer Camps

BILOXI (WLOX) -- Biloxi swimmers have returned to the natatorium. Contractors finished most of their post Katrina renovations, just in time for summer campers to jump into the pool.

"Take your mark. Go," shouted a Biloxi Red Tide swimming coach.

One of his swimmers dove into the water, using freestyle strokes to race across the water.

Across the pool, different instructions were shouted. 

"Long strokes. Show me those spoons," an instructor said to a young student.

The student was one of the summer campers who returned to the Biloxi Natatorium to learn basic swimming techniques again.

After being locked up for six months, so contractors could repair hurricane damage, the re-emergence of the natatorium has created quite a splash. Angie McBride has a child on the Red Tide swim team.

"We were in shock. It was destroyed," she remembered thinking right after Hurricane Katrina. "But it looks wonderful now."

Yolanda Dewgarde has two children enrolled in swimming lessons.

"It's a good facility. I like it," Dewgarde said. "And it's important, very important. Every child should have an opportunity to learn how to swim."

The $1.2 million renovation started in December. Repair work included a new pool surface, and a new retractable roof that welcomes in sunlight, but keeps out raindrops.

As parents watched their children in the water, they marveled at the improvements. Barbara Ellis has used the natatorium for years.

"The facility is beautiful," the Biloxi woman said. "You wonder, because it was a long time coming, and we just kept waiting, anxious for the pool to open again."

Natatorium operators are hoping the state swim meet will return to Biloxi this October -- providing quite a finish for this once hurricane battered pool.

The natatorium renovation isn't done yet. Faded yellow window tiles must be replaced. And perimeter walls still need to be touched up. The natatorium's director says a rededication ceremony will be held later this year.

By Brad Kessie

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