Original Federal Way pool faces identity crises

The original Federal Way public pool is having a bit of an identity crisis.

First known as the Kenneth C. Jones Pool, the indoor pool near Federal Way High School has been around for more than 30 years, having opened in 1971. But the Federal Way Pool has seen decreased use ever since its larger counterpart, the Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center, opened its doors in 1990.

As the aquatic center hosted international events such as the Goodwill Games, the U.S. Olympic diving trials and the World Junior Synchronized Swimming Championships, the other Federal Way pool began to see a decline in use.

“I think the big pool really overshadowed the fact that the Federal Way Pool is even in existence,” said Malcolm Neely, pool manager at the Federal Way Pool who worked at the aquatic center for its first nine years. “A lot of people don’t even know its here, even though it’s got a long history of good swimmers coming out of here.”

But the lack of crowds is good news to swimmers looking for a more relaxed atmosphere.

“We’re a nice community pool,” Neely said. “ We’re more of a public pool, where the aquatic center is more of a training center.”

Due to the aquatic center’s big events, public swims and lessons are sometimes cancelled or shortened. The Federal Way Pool offers swim lessons year-round without the interruptions of major events, Neely said. Most of the current class offerings have space for more students.

“The aquatic center’s lessons are generally filled months in advance,” Neely said.

The Federal Way Pool also offers a diving board and deep end for those who wish to dive. Comparatively, the aquatic center only opens the 4-foot deep lap pool to the public.

“Here you have a little bit of everything,” Neely said. “Shallow water, deep water to dive, a diving board. Hopefully someday we’ll find some way to get a slide in here. There’s a little place for everybody.”

The Federal Way Pool has a full schedule of swimming lessons, lap swimming, public swimming and family swimming in the shallow end. Water exercise programs are also available, as are scuba lessons from Underwater Sports and the Pacific Waves Synchronized Swimming club.

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