One year ago on Tuesday, Houston and surrounding communities were in the midst of hunkering down as Hurrican Harvey unleashed an unprecedented amount of rain and flooding along the Texas and western Louisiana Gulf Coasts. The storm, which didn’t bring the typical wind damage associated with hurricanes, moved very slowly, meaning that for 3 days in August, it basically sat over Houston, dumping constant rain, flooding bayous, breaching reservoirs, and forever changing the course of the country’s 4th-largest city.
While there were many human tragedies to come out of the story, ones that reached far beyond the relatively-frivolous athletic pursuits of the local schools, among the impacts of the storm was the flooding of Kingwood High School, home to one of the state’s best high school swimming programs. The nearly 3000 students that attended the school finished out their academic year by splitting the school day with Summer Creek High School. The school’s pool was heavily damaged by the flooding displacing the athletes.
On Tuesday, the school officially re-opened the Kingwood High School Natatorium, celebrated with a fully-clothed cannonball from one of the school’s principals.
Troy Ahrens documented the reopened facility here:
@swimswamnews Kingwood High School pool finally reopens (1 yearafter Harvey flood). Principals join in on the pure joy! pic.twitter.com/8q38omBEkj
— Troy Ahrens (@TroyAhrens) August 28, 2018
While the hurricane and subsequent flooding ravaged the community, especially parts of the city that are less financially resilient to disasters than Kingwood, it also built bonds and brought out the best in its citizens. JJ Watts’ $41.6 million fundaiser has been officially declared as the largest crowd-funding effort in history, and Kingwood’s swimmers came together after the storm passed to help their community rebuild.
The Kingwood girls’ team finished 5th at the 2018 state meet, while the boys finished 3rd.
The Mustangs were Texas State Champions in swimming on the women’s side as recently as 2011, and both teams are frequently in the top three. Kingwood has been home to several National High School Record holders in its history and has one of the most prestigious high school programs in state history since it opened in 1979. The boys’ program has 6 state titles and the girls program has 4.
SwimSwam’s Coleman Hodges visited the area in early September to hear about the families’ Harvey stories. See his report below:
Blue Tide Aquatics Heals From Harvey Through Swimming (Video Report)