New pools could let Upper St. Clair start water polo team

March 27, 2018 GMT

They’re rare in Western Pennsylvania, but Upper St. Clair could start a water polo program in the not too distant future.

That’s one of options the school will consider once its new aquatics center is built in August 2019, USC swim coach Dave Schraven said.

Among WPIAL schools, only North Allegheny sponsors boys and girls water polo teams that compete on an interscholastic level.

“We’re very interested in developing a water polo program,” said Schraven, who just finished his sixth season as coach.

Adding potential to the idea is USC’s plan to build an aquatics center with two pools. One will have a traditional style with a shallow end and a deep end. The other, an eight-lane competition pool, will be 7-feet deep all the way across.

“Because there’s no (shallow) bottom, we’re going to have a real water polo pool, as well,” Schraven said. “The programming options are going to be greatly enhanced because of this.”

Schraven also is excited for what that pool means for his swimmers’ times.

“The pool itself is going to be really fast from a competitive standpoint,” he said. “All deep-water is good.”

It’s also relief logistically. The school currently uses a decades-old, five-lane pool which limits the number of swimmers able to compete in each heat, Schraven said.

“We were obviously happy when it was put out there a little over a year ago that we were going to get a new pool,” Schraven said. “The possibility that there could be two pools was great, but I didn’t really allow myself to get too attached to the idea.”

The school board voted Monday to approve construction of the aquatics center as part of a $22.65 million building project. The special-use pool will be suitable for diving, allowing swimmers and divers to practice simultaneously.

“What it really does, it takes (the program) to another level, because there’s really no other facility that has that,” said Schraven, adding that the special-use pool also will be a boost for community swim programs. “It’s not just about competitive swimming. Really I think it’s more of the other options for aquatics that that second pool is going to enable: diving, a wide variety of special needs programming and community-type stuff.”

Elsewhere in Western Pennsylvania, Cathedral Prep and McDowell in Erie each have boys water polo teams. Villa Maria, McDowell and Fairview have girls teams.

“It’s been a long time coming,” Schraven said of the aquatics center. “It’s obviously a milestone event for us.”

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at charlan@tribweb.com or via Twitter @CHarlan_Trib.