Jan Nadig was overwhelmed by the decision to name the community pool in her honor.
The decision was made official Thursday night in a public session of the Lebanon Community Schools board.
Nadig, 80, spent more than 20 years working at the pool, starting out as an assistant supervisor and serving more than 15 years as the aquatic director. She also spent 10 years as the head swimming coach for Lebanon High School.
“I was surprised, I was taken aback,” Nadig said of her response on first learning that the school district was considering naming the pool for her. “I didn’t imagine it.”
If the district was going to make such a move, she wondered if she was the right candidate. Nadig suggested that her predecessor, John Foster, might be the better choice.
“You wonder, something like this happens, you name a major place after a person, whether I deserve it or not,” Nadig said in a phone interview on Sunday.
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Superintendent Bo Yates spoke in favor of the decision during the public session.
“She is the pool and deserves that,” Yates said. “It’s an awesome thing.”
School board chair Tom Oliver also endorsed the decision, which received the full support of the board and was also approved by the Lebanon Aquatic District.
“It’s nice to see some recognition for some of our longtime community members that have contributed immensely over their lives,” Oliver said.
During her tenure Nadig became known as “The Pool Lady” and many Lebanon residents - including some members of the current school board - remember her from their childhood swimming lessons. When Nadig started working at the pool in the mid-1970s, there was already a program in place for students to take lessons at the pool, but she strengthened and expanded the program during her years as the aquatic director.
She remains a firm believer in the value of an accessible community pool.
“It’s not only recreation and good exercise, it’s safety,” Nadig said. “If the kids can learn to swim before they’re in school, or begin in school, when they go to the river - and everybody does, everybody goes to Foster or the river - they need to be safe. I love the program to have all the elementary schools come in. That’s awesome. We expanded it a little bit all the time.”
The Lebanon Booster Club nominated Nadig for the honor. In its nomination letter, the club noted Nadig’s efforts to expand the pool’s lessons and fitness programs and promote water safety. The nomination also highlighted Nadig’s heroic efforts to preserve funding for the pool.
Nadig remembered those days and still bemoans the year the pool was closed due to budget cuts.
“That was terrible. I had to go to every community meeting I could to convince the people how important it was,” Nadig said.
The pool could face a similar fate in the future. The facility needs another makeover if it is to continue to serve the community and Nadig believes it is worth the investment.
“It’s very important. It’s as important as a classroom, it really is,” she said.