California school imports pool from Italy costing more than $1 million

Cameron Smith
Prep Rally

There are schools that have it good, and then there's Southern California's Harvard-Westlake (Calif.) High. When the school was looking for a new pool to house its swimming and diving programs, it went out and got the best pool it could find … in Italy.

Rather than settle for a top-of-the-line American pool, Harvard-Westlake imported a Myrtha stainless steel-coated pool from Italy, a process which necessitated use of the Panama Canal in a transatlantic shipment. If you think a stainless steel pool sounds pricey, you're right: According to the Los Angeles Times, Harvard Westlake's pool will account for a chunk of the school's new $5 million pool complex, which also includes a pool house, brand new locker rooms and stands.

Myrtha is considered an industry leader for pool design and construction, with the Italian firm providing the two pools that are being used in Omaha for the 2012 U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials. You can see how the stainless steel is incorporated into Myrtha's design schematics in the video above.

Information about how much Harvard-Westlake's Myrtha pool cost has not been made public, but past public debates about the installation of Myrtha pools shed some light on the subject. In nearby Catalina Island, the town was quoted a price of just more than $1 million for a Myrtha pool in 2005. Given inflation of roughly 20 percent over that time, the prospective Myrtha pool for Catalina Island (or, potentially, Harvard Westlake) would cost in the region of $1.2-1.25 million.

However, a more recent selection of a Myrtha pool in Princeton, N.J., for an eyewatering $6.46 million provides a likely indicator that the Italian company's prices have gone up to some degree, even if the prospective Princeton pool may be larger than the pool at Harvard-Westlake.

Put those two factors together, and it's extremely unlikely that Harvard-Westlake paid less than $1 million for its brand new Myrtha pool to be constructed and shipped to Southern California from Italy. In fact, it could be paying quite a bit more.

As noted by the Times, the justification for the exorbitant pool is believed to come in part from its ability to withstand earthquakes. The Myrtha company's state of the art, steel coating is intended to provide more stability than given by a normal pool, which ensures that it will keep its rigidity regardless of California tectonic motion.

High tech or not, $5 million is a heck of a lot of money to be spending on a pool complex, particularly as other school districts face steep cutbacks to keep their athletic programs running on track. Admittedly, Harvard-Westlake is a private school and has every right to do whatever it wants with its own money, but $5 million spent on a pool complex as opposed to additional scholarships or other academic efforts tends to come across as a bit over-the-top at the high school level.

Of course, that facilities gap will only serve to make Harvard-Westlake an even more attractive destination for top swimmers, something which may eventually make the Myrtha pool's long trek from Italy to SoCal well worth it in the mind of school president Audrius Barzdukas and fellow Harvard-Westlake officials.

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