Beloved pool returns to CG, Aqua Lions

Dozens of attendees participated in the community “jump-in” to become the first community users of the fully-renovated aquatic center. NICK SNYDER/CG SENTINEL

After a long 11-month closure, Cottage Grove finally has their beloved pool back and better than ever.

On Tues., Oct. 2 Sue Taylor - wife of longtime Cottage Grove High School (CGHS) water polo and swimming coach, Bud Taylor, and a former lifeguard - cut the ribbon on the new and improved Warren H. Daugherty Aquatic Center in front of a crowd of about 200 eager locals.

The ribbon-cutting signaled the end of a lengthy closure that, while inconvenient for local swimming enthusiasts and youth athletes, brought myriad improvements to a pool facility that desperately needed it after 63 years of continued service to the Cottage Grove community.

Even more people filtered through the shiny new lobby throughout the course of the evening and around 300 people attended the event in total, culminating in a community “jump-in” where dozens of attendees, mostly children, leapt into the water in unison to become the first members of the public to enjoy the upgraded pool.

South Lane superintendent Larry Sullivan, former CGHS athletic director Jerry Braunberger and senior swimmer and water polo player M.J. Raade spoke before the ribbon-cutting, emphasizing the positive effect this re-opening will have on all parts of the Cottage Grove community. But having a hometown pool again was no more important to anyone than CGHS water polo and swim coach Tyson Pilling.

“It feels good,” Pilling said when asked how it feels to have the Daugherty Center open again.

“We’ve been on the road for a year. High school swim season - for swimming and water polo - was outdoors and it’s been just a long road, so it’s nice to finally have a home. That helps not just with coaching, but it helps with the kids, too, to let them know that they have a facility to take pride in.”

It was also clear from the diversity of the crowd at the grand re-opening that the Daugherty Center is a facility with multi-generational impact in the Cottage Grove community.

Present at the event were former swimmers and water polo players and coaches, lifeguards and school and city government officials. For CGHS senior Fisher Nash - a member of the water polo and swimming teams as well as a Daugherty Center lifeguard - joining the first crew of head lifeguards at the new pool is a special opportunity.

“A lot of the head guards left,” Nash said, “so they kind of instituted a new batch of the old lifeguards which I’m excited about because I’ve kind of grown up watching the head guards set an example for me. I’m hoping that I can at least be as diligent as them.”

Improvements made to the pool include shortening from 33 yards to the standard 25 yards; better filtration to decrease wave interference for swimmers; a deeper tank with wider lanes; improved, fully-functional dehumidifiers that maintain a comfortable humidity level on the pool deck; fully renovated locker rooms; improved sealing of the pool tank which will drastically cut down chemical and maintenance costs; new lighting; solar panels to help with heating; and, of course, an added warm water pool.

All in all, the improvements make the Warren H. Daugherty Aquatic Center one of the best indoor swimming pools in the greater Lane County area, if not the entire state.

Lap swim is available Monday-Friday from 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. as well Mon., Wed. and Fri. from 5:30 a.m. - 6:45 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. - 8:30 a.m. Swimming lessons began on Mon., Oct. 7.

For more information regarding the pool schedule, visit and stop by in person to see more information about punch cards, memberships and signing up for swim lessons.

Aqua Lions finally have a home

After the re-opening of the Warren H. Daugherty Aquatic Center, the Cottage Grove Aqua Lions water polo team wasted little time getting comfortable in their new home.

With a year of transience behind them - using pools in Drain and Eugene as temporary practice facilities - the Lions boys and girls teams took on West Albany on Fri., Oct. 4 and South Albany on Sat., Oct. 5. While the tough competition didn’t allow them to come away with victories in either matchup, being able to finally rest easy in a home pool was reward enough.

“I’m grateful to teams like River Road and Willamette for helping us out with pool time, because if we didn’t have that, we wouldn’t have even had a pool at all. Some pool time is better than no pool time, but you’re limited to only so much when you only have so much time,” said head coach Pilling.

Much like other sports where home-field advantage is a very real effect, the Aqua Lions are looking forward to getting more and more comfortable in their new facility.

“You’re always going to play better in something you’re familiar with,” Pilling said. “For instance, pools like River Road, they’re three feet shallow so you gotta know how to stay lower in the pool and keep your shoulders in the water or if you’re playing at Amazon, there’s no bottom and it’s wider. So for us, we’re going to have a few of those different things with our pool being a lot wider and not very much shallow water.”

On Saturday, the boys first took on the visiting South Albany Redhawks and got off to a slow start, going down 2-6 after the first quarter of play. However, throughout the rest of the match the Lions played them to a standstill, 3-3, ending with a final score of 9-5. The Lions got two goals each from Iverson Bascue and Fisher Nash as well as one additional score from Braeden Buckland.

Lacking a full girls squad, South Albany sent nearly the exact same team out - all boys save for one - for a second match against the Cottage Grove girls.

The Aqua Lions went into halftime in a 1-3 hole but, much like the boys before them, stepped it up in the second half, matching the Redhawks 2-2 to end with a final score of 5-3 South Albany.

The Aqua Lions got goals from M.J. Raade, Mikayla Baird and Kassidy Poetzl.

While the Lions were looking to come away with victories in the new Daugherty Center’s opening weekend for water polo, the players themselves didn’t let the outcomes dampen their excitement.

“Coming back here is going to be a lot better on everyone’s stress levels,” said senior Fisher Nash. “It didn’t feel like home for a while, but now it does.”


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