A place to call home: El Pomar Natatorium gives Mavericks top-notch facility

Katie Wedel could hardly wait to try out the new Mesa State College pool.

The sophomore from Pueblo and a couple of her teammates jumped in before their first practice at the El Pomar Natatorium a few weeks ago. The grand opening celebration took place Friday night along with the rest of the Maverick Center. The new facilities include the Hamilton Recreation Center and the Copeland Family Athletic Training Room.

“It’s amazing,” Wedel said. “Before we left for Arizona (last week), a couple of us got in (the pool). It was surreal. It hasn’t quite connected this is our pool.”

The Olympic-sized pool is 25 yards wide by 50 meters long and seats 750. The natatorium was named after the El Pomar Foundation in Colorado Springs, which donated $500,000 to the project.

“It’s the nicest pool I’ve been in by far,” men’s freshman swimmer Carter Holt said. “I’ve swam at a few Division I schools. I trained at UNM (New Mexico) in the summer.”

Although Holt chose Mesa State before he heard about the natatorium, many were lured to the NCAA Division II institution because of it.

“I heard the college was building a new pool and it would be awesome,” freshman Rebecca Reed of Sugarland, Texas, said. “I knew the team went to different pools for practice and thought that was a hassle. I’m relieved we have a new pool.”

It made a difference for freshman Dan MacDonald (Gillette, Wyo.), who chose Mesa without a campus visit.

“This is the only school I didn’t have a recruiting trip to,” he said. “When I found out about the new pool, it definitely pulled me here.”

The Mavericks’ men’s and women’s intercollegiate teams began practice in the facility Monday.

The opportunity to walk to practice was a simple pleasure.

“We all had to drive 10 minutes to practice before,” sophomore Jackie McMillen said. “Usually it would be twice a day. Convenience wise, this is nice.”

There seems to be a new energy to the practices as well.

“It feels fast,” Wedel said. “We’ve practiced in it for one week now and we’ve had some good practices.”

Next weekend, Mesa hosts its first intercollegiate meet at the natatorium. The Mavericks host the Colorado School of Mines men and women’s teams, the University of Northern Colorado, New Mexico and Adams State’s women’s teams at 10 a.m. next Saturday. Mesa’s men and women swim against the University of Colorado men’s and women’s club teams at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 17.

“We’ve had home meets before, but it didn’t feel like it was our meet,” Wedel said. “It’s going to be exciting.”

The Maverick Center was a $41 million project and included almost 200,000 square feet and renovation of 125,000 square feet. It is funded by the college, state of Colorado and more than $6 million in private donations.


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