Event planned Saturday, July 14 to celebrate Cottage Grove’s Warren H. Daugherty Aquatic Center, which is scheduled for modernization
For over 30 years, legendary Cottage Grove High School swim coach Bud Taylor drew swimmers together at the Warren H. Daugherty Aquatic Center, helping to foster swimming and water polo programs that garnered state championships, launched careers and became the envy of coaches across the state.
On Saturday, July 14, Taylor will again gather swimmers, supporters and friends of the Warren H. Daugherty Aquatic Center together for ”The Last Race,” meant to serve as a tribute and send-off for the old pool, which is scheduled to undergo a yearlong modernization process beginning on Aug. 17.
In the early 1950s, concerned Cottage Grove residents banded together in response to a rash of drownings among local youth to raise funds to build a community pool. Local timber magnate Warren H. Daugherty contributed the remainder of the funding that led to the then-outdoor pools opening in 1955.
The Aquatic Center quickly became Cottage Grove’s premier summer gathering spot, and Taylor would later help lobby its owner, South Lane School District, to cover the pool and establish high school swimming and water polo programs. Success soon followed, and for over 60 years, the facility has also served as the place where thousands of local young people learned to swim, and recreation and fitness opportunities were provided for all ages.
In May of 2016, local voters approved a bond to replace the aging Harrison Elementary School, a bond that also earmarked funds to make technology and security upgrades at South Lane schools, in addition to renovating the pool. As part of its renovation, the Aquatic Center’s irregularly shaped pool will be transformed into an eight-lane, 25-yard pool that’s ideal for competition. Its plumbing and HVAC systems will be overhauled and modernized, and a new family changing room and lobby are planned to enhance the visitor’s experience. Fundraising efforts are also underway to raise the approximately $175,000 still needed to fully fund the pool’s update. Construction will necessitate at least an 11-month closure for the pool, though many high-school swimming and water polo programs will be housed at other area venues during the closure.
Events planned for The Last Race on Saturday include the presentation Swimming Hall of Fame awards, pool games and a pancake breakfast.