In the lore of U.S. professional swimming, there may be no more famous native venue than the Belmont Plaza Olympic Pool. Opened in 1968 in Long Beach, California, the 2,500-seat aquatics center featured distinctive mosaic designs behind its stands. The Olympic-sized pool hosted the raucously entertaining 1968 U.S. Olympic Swim Trials – the first swimming competition in the world to feature electronic touchpads to measure splits, laps and results.
Today, Belmont Plaza’s current situation is a far cry from its old one. Shuttered in 2013 over concerns for the building’s structural integrity, swimmers only had a hastily constructed temporary 50-meter pool next to the original site to satisfy their aquatics needs, SwimSwam.com reported. However, after nearly two years of indecision, city officials have decided to transform the temporary pool that had so far been without a name into the new version of the Belmont Plaza Olympic Pool.
Southern California has its fair share of public pools, both modern and historic, but the absence of Belmont Plaza over the past two years left Long Beach with almost no top-flight venues to attract the competitions the pool once did. On October 21, though, the Long Beach City Council unanimously voted to approve the construction of a state-of-the-art $103.1 million structure over the temporary pool, the Grunion Gazette Online reported.
The pool will incorporate many of the features that made the original Belmont Plaza pool so popular. In addition to modern timing equipment and a full Olympic-sized pool, the new facility will boast seating for 1,000 spectators. Officials plan for the building to also include a brand new diving well – something the original facility never had. The city hopes that the additions will draw high-profile swimming competitions back to Long Beach, once the hub of U.S. professional swimming, and that the increased revenue will cut down on pool maintenance costs.
That doesn’t mean that the historic Belmont Plaza building won’t get one last sendoff from the public, the Long Beach Post reported. On October 26, City Council member Susie Price has invited anyone and everyone with special memories or memorabilia from the pool’s history, such as pictures, trophies or medals, to come and share one last afternoon at Belmont Plaza.
As the community mourns the loss of one pool and prepares for another, the new Belmont Plaza Olympic Pool will continue on the tradition of one of the country’s finest aquatic facilities.