Highland High School Aquatic Center Aims To Provide Opportunities For Low-Income Swimmers

As a teenager, swimming changed Nate Franklin‘s life for the better. Now, decades later, he’s using the sport to give back to his community.

Franklin’s company, Pacifico Energy Group, is funding the construction of a pool at Highland High School, which has 2,599 students and is located in an area within Bakersfield, California with a significant population of minority and low-income households. Not only will the pool host high school swimming competitions, but a (currently unnamed) new club team that will train there. Franklin, a 1996 graduate of Highland High School, was a swimmer for Highland growing up and still participates in masters swimming.

“[Swimming] benefitted myself a lot in my formative years,” Franklin said. “It builds a lot of confidence in kids…it’s the type of sport that boys and girls, people of different heights, can all compete and excel at it.”

“[It’s] for kids that normally wouldn’t have the opportunity or necessarily be attracted to the sport,” Franklin added regarding why he wanted to fund the Highland High School Aquatic Center.

Franklin says the club at Highland will evaluate the financial needs of families on a “case-by-case basis” — he expects a registration fee to be implemented, but is open to providing financial aid for certain families, whether it be for registration/meet fees or other costs. But for him, one of the biggest factors that makes the club stand out is its location.

While many high level clubs practice at outside recreational facilities such as the YMCA or large universities, not many of them are situated at public high schools like the club at Highland. Franklin believes that this locational factor makes his club more accessible for kids in the area, as they can go straight to practice after school ends rather than having to potentially travel long distances between their homes and another pool.

Highland High School is also adjacent to Chipman Junior High School (enrollment of 954 students) and Eissler Elementary School (enrollment of 567 students), making it possible for children of all age groups to participate in the club hosted by the Aquatic Center.

“It’s hard to get someone to drive you to a practice, but it’s right after school and located at the school, there’s going to be hundreds or thousands of kids that will go through the program that normally wouldn’t have ever had exposure to the sport,” Franklin said.

The Highland High School Aquatic Center will have an outdoor eight-lane, 50-meter pool that can also be converted into a 19-lane short course yards (25 yards) pool. It will also contain concrete bleachers, lock rooms, outdoor showers, a scoreboard, a coaches’ office and a classroom. The renderings of the pool can be looked at below:

HighlandHS-Pool-DraftsV2 Final

Operations for the Aquatic Center are scheduled to begin by the end of 2024. The club run at the center is still searching for an Aquatics director, and Franklin plans on working with local school administration in Bakersfield in an attempt to recruit swimmers.

The Bakersfield area is home to clubs such as the Bakersfield Swim Club, which has developed alumni such as Olympic medalists Larsen Jensen and Gabe Woodward and holds practices at the California Aeronautical University (an 18-minute drive from Highland High School). And while Franklin aims to provide a high-level club swimming at Highland, his primary goal is attracting kids who may not have the resources to train at other clubs.

“[Swimming] gave me confidence growing up and somewhere to focus my energy as an adolescent,” Franklin said. “I just want to give that opportunity to other kids that wouldn’t have it normally.”

“I think [the Highland High School Aquatic Center] is going to be the nicest aquatic center in Bakersfield. I just think it’s just a nice story that people [are] giving back to the community. to increase the participation in the sport.”

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1 month ago

Great article!
Thank you Nate Franklin!
You generosity will impact many, many children for years and years and years!

olde coach
1 month ago

Fantastic……….what a way to give back!

About Yanyan Li

Yanyan Li

Although Yanyan wasn't the greatest competitive swimmer, she learned more about the sport of swimming by being her high school swim team's manager for four years. She eventually ventured into the realm of writing and joined SwimSwam in January 2022, where she hopes to contribute to and learn more about …

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