After guests waited in line until the gates opened at 10 a.m. Saturday, June 10, and patiently stood by during several minutes of ceremonial remarks, the countdown to the "Big Splash" began, and swimmers leaped simultaneously into Upper Arlington's newest public pool.

Tremont Pool, originally built in 1955, had to be closed due to structural failings after the 2014 swim season.

Visitors were complimentary about the new $4.15 million facility, replete with 8,150 square feet of swimming space, a separate zero-depth-entry toddler pool, two climbing walls and a water walk.

City officials estimated more than 800 people visited the pool on opening day.

"I was boxing out everybody to be the first in line," 25-year-old James DeGraw joked about being the first to go off one of the pool's two diving boards. "We live on Zollinger (Road) and we'd get excited every time we came down here to walk the dog."

John Jordan, who visited the pool with his 4-year-old daughter, Cora, said he was pleased with the rebuild, and particularly because fewer lap lanes -- six, compared to eight at the old pool -- made it more family-friendly.

"They did a nice job," Jordan said. "I think the design is really nice. I think it's spectacular."

Nine-year-old Hannah Masters commented on the shiny facility, which also has new restrooms, concession stands and a rentable shelter with grilling amenities, and said she appreciated the "nice and clean" new pool and was "very excited" about being there for opening day.

Her friend, 10-year-old Bella White, said she looked forward to trying the water walk.

"I wanted to come because I heard about the (water walk) leap pads and the rock wall," Bella said. "It just sounded fun. I really like it."

The new pool was two years in the making, amid much public debate.

The reconstructed pool was part of the first phase of a roughly $7.25 million project to upgrade Northam Park that also includes the construction of a new park playground, a park plaza, a pool drop-off area and a reading garden outside the Upper Arlington Public Library's main branch.

The overall effort to redevelop Northam Park began even before the old Tremont Pool was closed, and drew opposition from a group of residents that unsuccessfully attempted to remove four Upper Arlington City Council members from office last August.

The public-input process to design the pool and resulting construction logistics pushed the reopening two weeks past than the city's start.

But on opening day, when free admittance was given to all who wished to swim or see the new facility, none of those stops and starts seemed to matter.

City officials say they hope the positive remarks from patrons -- as well as the warmth and sunshine that materialized for opening day -- would continue to roll in as the season continues.

Swimmers will have the remainder of the summer to take in the pool, and the swim season will be extended one week after Labor Day weekend to make up for Tremont's late start.

That was good news to many who were there for the first day, and who said they planned to come back.

"I feel like it's creative, it's fun and everyone of all ages can enjoy it," said Ian Donohew, 10.

nellis@thisweeknews.com

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