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Outdoor swimming pool at Ballpark of Palm Beaches is all work, no play


The Washington Nationals’ new spring training home in West Palm Beach will have something in common with thousands of homes across sunny South Florida — an outdoor swimming pool.

But don’t expect to see Bryce Harper and Max Scherzer lounging on floaties and playing Marco Polo with their teammates. This swimming pool is all work and no play.

Located right outside the Nationals’ clubhouse at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, the four-lane “training exercise pool” — 60 feet long and 24 feet wide — is another tool the team will use to help players recover from injuries and condition their bodies for the long baseball season, the team says.

“It’s not your backyard pool,’’ ballpark architect Mo Stein said about the pool, which is believed to be the first outdoor training pool for a Major League Baseball spring training complex.

“You’re not going to see guys floating on rafts. There’s no drinks being served. There’s no fancy deck. There’s no umbrellas. This is a serious work area, a training area.”

Two of the pool’s four lanes are 4-feet deep and dedicated to running exercises. The other two lanes are 5-feet deep and dedicated to swimming. Each lane has two adjustable hydro jets that can pump 90 gallons of water per minute to create desired resistance, allowing trainers a variety of adjustments to help meet a player’s specific needs.

“It’s a neat pool,” said the man whose company built it, John Sammet, owner of Davie-based Sammet Pools. “It’s like running on a treadmill. You can swim in place for a mile.”

The Nationals decided to add the outdoor pool at the request of their training and medical staff, said Stein.

“It has turbines to move water and control the flow,” he said. “It’s a lot easier on hips and joints and knees. It’s a pretty sophisticated training pool.”

It’s an expensive one, too. The pool’s estimated cost is $162,000, according to a permit submitted to West Palm Beach, but the final tab could be as much as $200,000.

The Nationals made clear they’re paying for it on their own and not from the $113 million in tourism tax revenue contributed by Palm Beach County to help finance construction of the overall $150 million spring training complex.

“It’s not cheap,’’ said Stein, who said it would have been more expensive to build the same pool indoors. “It’s a specialty pool, but it’s a difference-maker.’’

The Houston Astros, who are sharing The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches with the Nationals, will not have an outdoor training pool. “It’s not something our guys were interested in doing,’’ said Giles Kibbe, the team’s general counsel.

“We are focusing our player rehabilitation on other methods, and we feel like we are kind of in the forefront of a lot of this stuff,” he said. “We just didn’t see the benefit of doing anything different.”

City records include at least two other pool permits for The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches. One describes $138,000 “hot and cold hydro therapy spas” in the Astros clubhouse. The other permit describes a $450,000 “Hydroworx 1200 series” underwater treadmill and “combination plunge pools.’

Art Fuccillo, a Nationals partner, said the items in the third permit are normal clubhouse features and are not part of the outdoor training pool.

The Nationals did not have an outdoor pool at their previous spring home, Space Coast Stadium in Viera. The team’s new pool in West Palm Beach will have lights and a heater, so players can exercise at night or during chilly days.

It will also have a 9-foot concrete deck on both sides and a 17½-foot concrete patio area.

“It’s hard to speculate on what other teams think,’’ Stein said, “but as it becomes successful and these guys are using it and the word gets out, other teams might start to think about adding something like this.”

Data reporter Mike Stucka contributed to this story.



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