New Central pool to be named after famed coach

It’s official.

The new pool at Hinsdale Central High School will be named The Don Watson Aquatics Center following a unanimous vote April 23 by the Hinsdale High School District 86 Board.

Watson coached the Central varsity boys swim team to 12 consecutive titles and developed 167 high school All-Americans and four Olympic swimmers from 1965-78. He passed away at age 87 in November 2017.

The request received the endorsement of the policy committee. Kathleen Hirsman, committee chair, said her group spent significant time discussing the issue, and she is comfortable that the decision complies with board Policy 4:150.

“Recognizing that the name for a school building or facility (including ground or field) reflects on its public image, the board’s primary consideration will be to select a name that enhances the credibility and stature of the school or facility,” the policy states.

The application was filed by George Tidmarsh, a Central alumni and California resident who was part of four state championship swim teams and set three state records. The naming policy is separate from Policy 8:80, which covers gifts to the district and makes no mention of naming rights, Hirsman emphasized.

“I think it’s very important the board keep these separate,” she said.

A group of Central alums and district residents raised $1.6 million toward the cost of the 10-lane pool. Board members planned for a six-lane pool prior to the April 2019 referendum and then in September approved a 10-lane pool with a price tag of $3.5 million more.

The naming request also was supported by a special committee appointed by Superintendent Tammy Prentiss. That group — comprised of board member Marty Turek and district residents Tamakia Edwards, Greg Orput and Steve Cashman — met March 20.

At the March 26 board meeting, Turek suggested that while district facilities typically have not been named after anyone, that might change in the future.

“Maybe there is an obvious name for the library at Hinsdale South or the fine arts for Hinsdale Central or a number of things that will come online,” he said.

The policy committee plans to have continued discussions about the rules governing gifts to the district.

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Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean