NOVA Flashback: Building the Second Pool

An Interview With Mark Yacano, Former NOVA Board President

A second blast from the nearer past, a follow-up on the interview with Don Farmer that appeared in the Fall 2014 newsletter. Mark Yacano served as club president and was instrumental in arranging the building of the second pool. He talks about the process with Coach Geoff below…

Geoff Brown: The first pool had been built and NOVA was growing. What was the specific trigger for embarking on the second pool expansion?

Mark Yacano: It was simple. The program was thriving and needed more water. Without it, NOVA would have been limited in its ability to continue to grow. It was the right thing to do for the long term health of the organization.

Your children were both swimmers. It was highly likely that one or both would get to use the expanded facility. How “selfish” was your motivation or was your motivation more community based?

My dear friend, Gary LeClair, always talks about stewardship – building for the future and beyond our own personal needs. All of us that took on the project realized that the time our kids would swim in the pool once built would be relativity short in comparison to the time that so many other kids would swim in it. We did it because it was in NOVA’s best interests for the long term.

You and your team elected to build a second pool over expanding the old pool into a 50 m tank. What made your group decide in favor of a second 25 yd x 25 m pool?.

The cost to expand the existing pool to 50 meters was prohibitive and the downtime and need to find alternative pool space was too complicated. Quite simply we built what we could under the circumstances.

While you led the charge, you had some able help. Who else was a key player in the project?

John Reifsnider and Richard Zimmerman were my cohorts in this program. Later on, others came in to manage the project once construction was underway. Richard was very established in the Richmond business community and brought a seasoned approach to messaging and external outreach. John brought a lot of financial acumen and he worked to develop a financial model that was instrumental in helping us get the mortgage and construction loan. We were a team and worked interdependently.

What do you think your children learned from watching you lead this process?

My kids learned the value of commitment and teamwork. Ben swam from 2nd grade through high school and then swam four years at the University of Connecticut. He was co-captain his senior year.  He once told me that long after the times he swam were forgotten the fact that he was a member of a team and a contributor would stick with him for life. The pool project taught the kids that effort wins out day in and day out. So many people told us the pool would never get built, the lending climate was not terrific and the grab for philanthropic dollars in the community was fierce. We still got it built through simple persistence.

Due in no small part to your efforts, NOVA expanded from 450 swimmers to its current size of around 800 swimmers. How proud are you of the success made possible by your efforts?

I will always view the completion of the project and the opening of the second pool as one of my most satisfying endeavors. It was great fun and so fulfilling.

What would you like to stress to each NOVA family that now has the opportunity to be part of the third expansion process?

It feels good to do something for future swimmers as well as your own swimmers. NOVA has given much to you and your family, so you should pay it forward.