Grace Knudson

In the beginning plans for the construction of the Stephen B. Swann Athletic and Wellness Center, which opened in 2010, a natatorium was designed but did not move onto the next stages due to high costs and lack of interest from donors and the school community.

“The possibility of a pool was definitely explored, but there just wasn’t enough interest to pull in off,” Associate Head of School Ruth Burke said. “The building was an almost $30 million building, and a pool would have added several more million on to that, which was not in the budget.”

While other private schools around the Dallas metroplex do have pools, ESD is a relatively new school compared to the surrounding others. In 2008, when the designing was taking place, priorities were for academics and wellness, such as the dining commons and faculty offices.

“Our campus has grown as our student population grows, but we’ve always kind of been trying to catch up,” Burke said. “When schools look at campus expansion, the number one priority is meeting the needs of the students we serve and making sure we deliver our mission. If you look at the buildings and facilities that have been designed and built over the years, they each do something to help us meet the needs of our school whether it’s our daily worship, academics, athletics or the arts. And with swimming, swimming just wasn’t an interest at the time.”

ESD has greatly expanded its student population, starting with 11 students in 1974, to about 1,250 students to date. Now, with the recent lower school construction and the campus also becoming landlocked, the possibility of building a swimming pool in the near future is slim.

“When we ask donors for money, we need to be very confident of how that project is going to help ESD fulfill its mission and meet the needs of students, and the swimming pool, likely would not be compared to an academic classroom or maybe a gymnasium,” Burke said. “Who knows what constructing [a swimming pool] will hold for the future, but I don’t see it happening in the near future. With the lower school now on campus and an additional number of students in middle and upper school, we want to ensure we have a really good learning space for everyone.”

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