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Emler Swim Center plans to have a special focus on water safety and swim lessons for kids.

COURTESY PHOTO: PETE ECKERT - A view of the pool from the back corner.Oregon is known for its bounty of natural beauty and outdoor activities, a reputation that led Texas-based Emler Swim School to build a pair of indoor centers in Beaverton and Tualatin to provide water safety and swim lessons for young children.

With Portland's Joseph Hughes Construction at the helm, the Beaverton center has been completed and the Tualatin facility is under way. The project team also includes DCI Engineers of Portland and Polkinghorn Group Architects of Austin, Texas.COURTESY PHOTO: PETE ECKERT - The new pool.

Construction on the Tualatin center, located at 19449 S.W. Martinazzi Ave., began in January 2020. After shutting down because of COVID-19, construction resumed in August 2021. The pandemic was just the first of several challenges, according to John Fifield, project manager for Joseph Hughes Construction.

"After getting a little into the ground, we discovered very high water and poor soils to the degree we had to shut the project down for re-design," he said, adding re-design and permitting took about four months.COURTESY PHOTO: PETE ECKERT - The pool from the viewing area.

With completion expected in time for families to start using the center this January, the Tualatin center will house a 55,000-gallon pool in 6,800 square feet. It also will have an observation deck for parents to observe the classes, changing areas, mechanical areas and administrative space.

Kendra Walker, Emler's vice president of operations, said the pools are an intentional 40-foot by 40-foot design to "create an intimate environment for little ones who can be overwhelmed in large natatoriums. COURTESY PHOTO: PETE ECKERT - With Portland's Joseph Hughes Construction at the helm, the Beaverton center has been completed and the Tualatin facility is underway.

"It is comfortably shallow with a maximum 4-foot depth and easily visible throughout with glass windows encasing the pool room," she said. "There are no locker rooms, rather family-friendly restrooms and changing areas, and rinse showers on deck where children remain with parents or caregivers when not in the swimming pool."

Fifield said his team learned lessons during construction of the Beaverton center that have been applied to the Tualatin center. Among them, how to run the mechanical and electrical systems more efficiently.

"Pools, in general, are a niche project. What makes this project unique and enjoyable is the Emler staff. Having worked with them now for four years, I can say they are a great group of people," he said.COURTESY PHOTO: PETE ECKERT - After shutting down because of the COVID-19, construction resumed in August 2021.

The Emler Swim School in Beaverton, located at 9140 S.W. Hall Blvd., is a 6,200-square-foot facility with heated, custom saltwater pools. Construction began in August 2021 and was completed in April.

"The challenges on the project were mostly regarding upgrading the electrical and the high cost and time required to replace meter gear and transformers," Fifield said. "There is a national shortage of metering equipment that has made 20- to 40-week delivery times common."

The project team credited DCI Engineering with solving a potentially costly issue of supporting the 7,000-pound dehumidifier on the roof by amending the structure in place instead of tearing open half of the roof.

Once work was fully under way, the project was plagued by many difficulties common in construction today, including supply chain issues, rising building costs and increased power needs. Fifield said Joseph Hughes Construction appreciated the efforts of PGE and Janz Construction, one of its subcontractors, to get the power supply crossing in quickly without impacting restaurants in the existing commercial center.COURTESY PHOTO: PETE ECKERT - The entrance poster shows a young infant learning water safety.

Emler Swim Schools offers lessons to children as young as six months and up to nine years old. Child drownings are the number one cause of death for children under the age of five, and teaching young children to swim in a safe environment will help stem the increasing cases of accidental childhood drownings.

Emler also offers Bathtime Babies classes for babies as young as two months, where the focus is on introducing newborns and parents to the water, building comfort and experiencing the joy of water play. The babies become familiar with buoyancy in a non-threatening, warm environment, while also getting the added benefits of exercise and socialization.

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