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Making pitch for aquatic center
Swimming standout lobbies for $11 million complex
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Scott Tolman would have loved to train in Manteca year-round.
The Sierra High School swimming standout, who graduated in June, recently returned from Omaha where he competed in the United States Olympic Trials – finishing 49th in the 200-meter breaststroke field. And while the accomplishment of even being invited to such a prestigious meet was a source of pride for many from Manteca that watched him grow up in and out of the pools of The Family City, a large portion of Tolman’s formative swimming years were spent elsewhere – forced to join Ripon Aquatics when the Manteca Dolphins ended their year-round training program.
He wants to change that so the next standout swimmer who has a chance to represent their country at the Olympics can do so from the comfort of their hometown.
Tolman represented a contingent of Manteca swimmers who asked the Manteca City Council on Tuesday night to seriously consider fast-tracking elements of their soon-to-be-adopted Parks Master Plan that call for a new aquatic complex that will supplement – or possibly replace – the city’s aging Lincoln Pool Facility that is more than six decades old.
While it was at one time suited for the needs of the Manteca community, Tolman pointed out that when it was built in the mid-1950’s there were less than 4,000 people in Manteca, and now that one pool services a community of more than 73,000 people – making space and time a premium and a rarity for competitive swimmers who have to schedule their times around city-managed programs and community swimming events.
But the undertaking won’t be a cheap one.
Preliminary estimates for a new pool complex – which would be a smaller, lap-style competition pool similar in size to Lincoln Pool as well as another pool for free recreational swim – are in the $11 million range for construction, and according to the consultant that prepared the report before the council on Monday, would cost roughly $160,000-a-year to maintain. That money would likely come from the general fund.
Some of that money, however, could be recuperated. According to the consultant, preliminary estimates are that Manteca could recover upwards of 70 percent of the money they would have to spend to maintain the facility through a variety of different channels, and as one supporter of the aquatic center pointed out, the rest of that money will likely come back in the form of tax revenue from the number of people who will come to Manteca for events that will be held at the facility.
While the Parks Master Plan deals – a 168-page document –deals with all of the specifics and the status of parks and recreation offerings in Manteca, the majority of the support on Monday came from those in the aquatic community who have long hoped that Manteca will build a facility that they can use as well as those in the athletic community that have been waiting for Manteca to construct an indoor gymnasium for general purpose use.
Harman Pannu said that while he has a steady stream of participants in a pickup volleyball group that gets together regularly to play, the group has been without a facility for two months now that Manteca Unified School District is on summer break.
The popularity of volleyball, he said, is rising – Manteca Unified is reportedly adding men’s volleyball to their roster of high school sports – and they’ve long hoped for the backing of the council to provide the sorts of facilities that allow for people who prefer the indoor style of play over the outdoor versions that are popular and essentially required during the summer months.
The Manteca City Council will vote next month to adopt the master plan and will address certain key issues raised by those in the public at that time. The requests Monday were more of a wish-list style conversation according to the document itself which in its recommendations calls for the city to begin the long-term planning process for adding infrastructure like an aquatic facility and a gymnasium by first acquiring the necessary land and putting a separate master plan in place for each of the undertakings.
Mayor Steve DeBrum said that he realistically saw the list of recommendations as a “20-year plan” citing the funding as a major hurdle that the council would have to overcome.

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.