After a year-long closure, the Wasilla pool is back open for swimmers.

Dozens of parents and kids turned out for the Matanuska-Susitna Borough’s grand opening and ribbon cutting to celebrate the completion of the construction project.

The renovation added a separate diving area and regulation-length lanes for swim meets as well as improved lighting and easier ramp access into the water.

“I really like that it’s bigger,” said 11-year-old Alea Sidelinger, who was excited to test out the new lap lanes. “The most I’ve done is 24 laps which is three-fourths of a mile,” she said.

Money for the upgrade came from a $22 million bond voters approved in 2016.

State statistics show drowning was a leading cause of unintentional injury death to Alaskan children ages 0 to 9 in the years 2013-2015. Parents said community pools, like Wasilla’s, play a crucial role in getting kids the skills they need to survive.

“If people don’t have access to a pool it'd be really hard to learn how to swim and being in Alaska, with all the lakes and coastline we have, I think it’s essential every kid Alaska learn how to swim,” said Becca Moore, who drove from Willow so her children could test out the waters at the new facility.

The borough will begin moving swim activities from the Palmer pool to Wasilla now that it’s open.

Palmer’s pool will close for its own year-long renovation on May 24.

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