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Local family offers $1M for Del Oro pool renovation

Kamphefners plan to match individual donations
By: Elizabeth Speth, Loomis News Correspondent
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A Loomis family has pledged $1 million in donations to build a new aquatic center at Del Oro High School. Rex and Grace Kamphefner hope to spearhead a $4 million resuscitation of the school’s 40-year-old pool. They have agreed to match $1 million for personal donations made for the new facility. “I suppose the alternative is eventually closing the pool,” Grace Kamphefner said. “Pledging $1 million was a way of throwing down the gauntlet, and putting our money where our mouths are.” Kamphefner and a team of fundraisers have submitted plans for an aquatic center they say would bring revenue and local business opportunities to the town. They propose expanding the current pool to 14 lanes, increasing the depth to 7 feet, and adding new diving boards and spectator bleachers. An improved heating system, new bathrooms and locker rooms are included. Most important to the financial future of the aquatic center, Kamphefner said, is the proposed 36- by 30-foot, shallow, warm-water aquatic therapy pool. “This will be the key, the money-maker,” she said. Therapy pool users would include seniors, rehabilitation programs, and youth and infant swim instruction. Ramps and lifts would make it accessible to the wheelchair-bound. Kim King, of Loomis, said she would utilize an aquatic therapy pool. King brings her 2-year-old daughter to swim lessons at the Del Oro pool and was enthusiastic about the idea. “I have scoliosis and chronic back pain,” she said. “Swimming is the only exercise I can do." Kamphefner said, “There is a huge shortage of facilities like this in our area, and an enormous need. We have a feasibility study that says people will pay to base their programs here. The demographics support it. ” Kamphefner said she was struck by the aging pool facility while watching her son, Thor’s, water polo matches. Thor, 16, is a Del Oro junior. “Water polo is exploding in this country as a sport,” she said, “and Del Oro’s pool is totally unsuitable. Other teams call it ‘the bathtub’. How can a six-foot-plus player tread water in three and a half feet of water?” Kamphefner said she obtained a $4,000 grant, and combined it with $10,000 raised for pool improvements by 2009 Del Oro graduate Liz Scherer. “We used the grant and Liz’s senior project funds, and paid for a feasibility study,” Kamphefner said. She said the study identified many seniors in the Loomis Basin who would use the therapy pool. Other use and revenue opportunities include underwater search and rescue training programs, lifeguard training, and kayak classes. It took Kamphefner another two months to raise the $75,000 needed to draw up architectural plans. A community Casino Night event raised $11,000, she said, and the Looms Basin Dolphins swim team, based at the Del Oro pool, donated $20,000. “Between the Dolphins, our water polo teams, and the Town of Loomis Swim lesson program, the water in that pool is never still during the summer. It was not designed to sustain that much use,” Kamphefner said. Kamphefner said if her family’s pledge successfully draws matching funds from the community, fundraising efforts will target corporate sponsorships for the remaining $2 million, possibly funding the aquatic center by 2012. Local businesses such as Golden Eagle Automotive, Rejuvenate Day Spa and Skadoodle Toys are doing their part, donating revenues through a Pool Partners Program. Local parent and pool fundraiser Paul Johnson said his three children spent 18 years on the Loomis Dolphins team. He said the Pool Partner businesses are investing in good citizens for their community. “Swimmers tend to be good kids,” Johnson said. “They get a lot of support from their families, and from a close-knit community. A strong local swim program is an asset.” Loomis parent Michelle Accaria, whose children take lessons at the Del Oro pool, agreed, calling a new pool "an asset to the community (that) would bring more people to the area." For more information on the proposed aquatic center, including a list of businesses participating in the Pool Partners program, go to deloroaquaticcenter.com.