Copses Family Aquatic Center opens, practices begin in Olympic-sized pool

Aaron Lyons

The newly-completed Copses Family Aquatic Center opened on Monday, Aug. 27. Varsity water polo has been practicing in the pool since it opened Aug. 27. with a celebratory “first swim” ceremony, followed by the first day of water polo practice.
President Tom Hudnut wore swimming goggles to address parents, trustees and donors on the pool deck, thanking contributors for their support of the new pool complex.
“Here it is folks, before school even opens,” Hudnut said. “It ain’t gonna get any better than this.”
Head of Athletics Terry Barnum, speaking after Hudnut, described the advantages of the new pool for the athletics program.
“Now, we have that world class facility, and it is going to allow our program to go to new heights, heights that we have never experienced before,” Barnum said.
Henry Copses ’14, John Copses ’14 and their younger brother Adam dove from the numbered starting blocks and took the first strokes in the new pool.
Head of Upper School Audrius Barzdukas called the installation of its laser-certified swimming pool an “engineering feat.”
“Fitting the pool into that space took a significant amount of planning and engineering because we had to construct a retaining wall,” he said. “It really is an accomplishment to place a 50 meter pool into that area.”
Stainless steel panels, PVC membranes, glue, tiles and waterproof coatings were shipped through the Panama Canal from the headquarters of Myrtha Pools in Mantua, Italy, to the Port of Los Angeles. Components of the pool were then driven to Coldwater Canyon in 15 truckloads on June 7, the day before commencement.
“As the trucks were coming in, we craned everything off and put it all onto the pool deck that had just been poured. It was perfect timing,” De Matte said.
The modular stainless steel segments were bolted together and, along with the concrete pool bottom, coated by a PVC membrane. Once the structure was sealed and waterproofed, custom Myrtha tiles were applied on the walls and floor.
An 8,000 gallon surge tank sits underneath the pool deck to keep the surface of the water level. When swimmers dive in or otherwise disturb the water, the shock is transferred into the tank, allowing pool water to remain exactly at the surface of the deck.
Thanks to the size of the pool and its advanced technology, the water polo and swimming teams will be able to practice simultaneously for the first time in school history, Barzdukas said. The wave-reducing technology will also enable athletes to swim faster.
“Deeper pools are faster because waves bounce off them and hit the swimmers, and so if it’s deeper, those waves dissipate,” Barzdukas said. “It is the best pool in the world.”
Los Angeles Times high school sports reporter Eric Sondheimer pegged the cost of the pool at around $5 million in a June article. According to De Matte, the total cost of the pool complex was approximately $6.5 million.
All middle and upper school faculty had the opportunity to test the new pool complex before an inter-campus meeting Tuesday, Aug. 28.
Middle school history teacher Ian Ulmer jumped into the pool with middle school math teacher Dan Reeves and Rabbi Emily Feigenson as swimming coach Darlene
Bible demonstrated a proper backstroke start.
“The pool is glorious,” Ulmer said.