LENEXA, Kan. — The Shawnee Mission School District made a big splash in the City of Lenexa.
"This is just kind of a dream come true," said Dr. Kenny Southwick, Interim Superintendent for the Shawnee Mission School District.
On Thursday morning, dirt was turned on a project that's been in the planning phase for the last two years.
"It's awesome. It’s a great day in Shawnee Mission," said Southwick.
In September, the Shawnee Mission Board of Education approved construction contracts on a new aquatics center.
"This will create a venue not only for practice for all of our swim teams, a great competition facility, and we think really statewide we might have an opportunity to host some pretty important meets statewide," said Southwick.
The $27.8 million facility will sit next to the new Lenexa City Center. The state-of-the-art aquatic center will also allow the district room to host their own meets, something they haven't been able to do effectively.
"Our league is very large right now, so at 13 teams we're pushing it," said Bruce Bove, Head Swim Coach at Shawnee Mission South High School.
Joseph McAtee, a senior swimmer at Shawnee Mission South High School, jumped right on board when he first heard the news.
"When I found out it was going to be built, I was really excited because we do have a very old pool but then I found out it's going to be here when I'm gone," said McAtee.
While McAtee won't get to compete in the new building, he said he’s anxious to come back and see the 50-meter competition pool, diving wells, and 25-yard pool for training.
The center will also serve as a place every child can learn the basics.
"It's not only going to be for people like myself who race, but for kids who want to learn to swim as well," said McAtee.
As we head for some colder weather, the Shawnee Mission School District said the major parts of construction won't begin until the spring. Swimmers should be able to dive in to the new facility beginning in the summer of 2019.
The Shawnee Mission School District and the City of Lenexa also plan to split the cost of a $4.4 million two-story parking garage.
The aquatic center was part of a $223 million bond issue approved by voters in 2015.