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Swim Center officially opens today

A look at the Pala Lagoon Swimming Center while still being constructed. It is set to open today, after 15 years in the making. [SN archives]
There is a $5 charge per person

After 15 long years, the Pala Lagoon Swimming Center at Lions Park — across the street from ANZ Bank — will officially be dedicated today at 9 a.m.

The facilities will be open to the public at 1 p.m. and will remain open until 6 p.m.

A $5 fee is required for everyone who uses the facilities, no matter what age. The money collected from the entrance fees will go towards paying lifeguards, maintenance, and other expenses involved in keeping the pool open — and safe — for public use.

Plans for the swimming pool project were envisioned back in 2003, during the Togiola Administration. Throughout the course of the project, there were a lot of setbacks but nonetheless, everything worked out and now the community can enjoy one of the four pools — all set up with the goal of getting the little ones comfortable in the water so they can learn how to swim.

The Rotary Club of Pago Pago spearheaded the project — which saw it through government red tape, funding red tape and just a lot hard work to make it a reality.

Altogether, the project cost about $1.31 million and according to Utu Abe Malae, chairman of the Pala Lagoon Swimming Center, the "sweat equity" involved adds up to about the same amount.

This appears to be "the very first partnering project between the American Samoa Government, a federal government agency, a community service organization, with donations from the private sector and regular folks of the community," Utu told Samoa News yesterday. 

"It is incredible how much love for the community was exhibited throughout the 15 years since the genesis of the idea of a community swimming pool," he continued.

According to some Rotarians who spoke to Samoa News, the idea of a community-swimming center came about after several fatal drownings in the early 2000s.

The drownings resulted in Rotarians coming together and installing "Angel Rings" around the island to assist swimmers in distress. (Samoa News points out that the Angel Rings have contributed to saving lives over the years).

But having flotation devices just wasn't enough. Rotarians came to the realization that although we live on an island, surrounded by water, the majority of people — especially children — don't know how to swim.

That's when the idea of a community-swimming center was born.

There are four swimming pools at the new center, one for each age group. The biggest one is 25 meters, while the smallest one is perfect for toddlers.

Individuals who want to host birthday parties and family get-togethers at the swimming center are welcomed to do so.

To complete the package, a concession stand with snacks is also in place for those who find themselves starving after a nice long swim.

A staff of about 4-5 people will be on hand to ensure that everything runs smoothly. Samoa News understands that high school kids who want to volunteer are welcomed.

According to Utu, the Pala Lagoon Swimming Center is a big deal for the territory, as American Samoa was the only US possession without a facility of this kind… until now.

Those who stop by the swimming center are reminded that only swimmers with proper swimming attire will be allowed in the water.

"This is to prevent clogging of the drains and filters," said Utu. This means no jeans, and other thick clothing.

Also, everyone is to "rinse off" before they enter any one of the pools.