Then & Now: Tam High Pool

In its 102-year history, Tam High has had three swimming pools, each built on marshland. The shifty ground beneath the second was rumored to provide a "home pool advantage."

After two bond measures and years of design and construction, the $100 million remodel of the Tam High campus was unveiled in May. A central piece of that renovation was the outdoor Olympic-sized swimming pool where Tam's swimming and water polo teams compete.

The new swimming pool is Tam's third pool since the school opened in 1908. All three pools have been constructed on what was once marshland, as evidenced by the recent restoration of the marsh just south of the football field. Because of that shifting ground beneath, the lifetimes of the Tam pools may have been shorter than your average high school swimming pool.

The first Tam High swimming pool was built in 1924 with money raised by Tam's students. It was an indoor swimming pool next to the gymnasium. At that time there was one gym on campus and it was referred to as Wood Auditorium, named after Tam' s founding principal, Ernest Wood. This small indoor pool was called "The Tank," and was fully operational until 1957. By the early 1950s, the pool began to "tilt." It was built on a landfill, however, and the land beneath the cement began to shift and the pool soon was condemned.

During that time, Tam's swimmers jokingly boasted that they had a "home pool advantage" because they practiced during the week in the pool by swimming "up hill."

The second Tam pool (seen here in the black-and-white photo) was built in 1958, and opened in 1959. The new outdoor pool also had an adjacent smaller pool with a high diving board. Before the Mill Valley Community Center opened in 2000, the Tam pool was the pool for summer recreational use and swim classes for the Mill Valley public.

The passage of two bond measures spurred a massive reconstruction of the campus, including the demolition of the second Tam pool in 2008 and the opening of the newest Tam pool in 2009. To account for the low weight-bearing capacity of the soil below it, structural engineering firm Thornton Tomasetti drilled extra deep foundations for the sparkling new pool. Let's hope Tam's swimmers aren't swimming "uphill" again anytime soon. 


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