The Belmont Plaza Pool, host to the 1968 and 1976 U.S. Olympic swim trials and once considered the state-of-the-art jewel in the nation, is now a relic that is no longer suitable for even the most modest of aquatic needs, much less something of high-end quality.
A city that once had a half-dozen vibrant swim programs and youth teams doesn't have a single world-class program, and the small ones that exist could fit in your tub by comparison.
If you've followed the saga of one of the city's signature sports facilities, that doesn't sound like new news. Well, it isn't. That's exactly what I wrote in the Press-Telegram in 2008 when addressing the plight of a pool that once was called "The Taj Mahal" of swim stadiums.
"Belmont Plaza has outlived its usefulness as a competitive site."
That quote came from former USA Water Polo exec Rich Foster a few weeks after he helped stage the 2004 U.S. Olympic trials in an above-ground pool next to the Sports Arena after Belmont Plaza was deemed by USA Swimming as a non-entry as a host.
So what just happened last week, the decision to close down Belmont Plaza over seismic issues, is hardly a shock - and neither is the fact the city has known this for more than a decade and addresses it by hiding in the deep end.
They're still trying to hide, too.
City Council members have presented a replacement structure that is your typical cup-is-half-empty approach to local government.
By all means, any new pool should be available to kids and adults of all ages for pure fun. But why stop there? The best way to interest kids in aquatic sports and build a strong foundation is to have them using a facility where on any day they might bump into a half-dozen former and future Olympians.
The one sport that still finds Belmont useful is diving, because it's the only indoor facility with Olympic standard boards in Southern California - and the city proposal has no provision for diving.
The council meets Tuesday to discuss the replacement proposal and it should expect to hear from more than 200 dissenting aquatic supporters. Personally, I think the council will do what councils do best - delay any action for more study and then wait for the buzz to subside.
Chi Kredell is part of the first family of swimming and water polo in town, having married Kristin Barth, the daughter of the legendary and late Klaus Barth who introduced thousands of youngsters to aquatic sports in his years at Wilson High.
Former 49er and Olympian Kredell runs the water polo division of Shore Aquatics, the pre-eminent club in town, and Kristin the swimming program.
"Our passion is swimming," he said. "We need to grow an environment in aquatics like we had when we were growing up.
"It's extremely hard now because so many of the facilities here are outdated. We use the smaller pools at Wilson (High), Lakewood (High), the Long Beach Yacht Club and Los Alamitos military training pool. Most of them don't meet Olympic or even college requirements.
"There's a lot of talent in this town and we've been seeing good swimmers, divers and water polo players go elsewhere to train or to play club."
Long Beach's reigning swim star, Jessica Hardy, trained in Orange County in preparation for the 2012 London Olympics, where she won two medals.
"I made the Olympic team in 1976 in Belmont," said former swimmer Kathy Heddy Drum, "and my daughter (U.S. national water polo team standout Lolo Silver) spent hours practicing and swimming in Belmont. This is a true aquatic community, and the facilities aren't what they need to be."
Sammy Lee is an icon in diving, having won back-to-back gold medals in the 10-meter platform in 1948 and 1952.
"In London (in 1948), 40 percent of the city was bombed out but they still had an Olympic-quality pool," said Lee, 93.
"Divers and coaches use Belmont all the time. The advantage of being indoor is that you can use it year-round, and major events are usually held indoors."
Lee has visited China and seen its sports academies churn out new stars every four years. He thinks the idea of building a new, fully-functional pool that would serve as an academy would work perfectly. There are more than enough programs and coaches and athletes in town to launch it.
"You'd have Olympians and kids working and training together," he continued. "Long Beach has always been an easy place for athletes to come and train."
The city did have a plan to renovate Belmont in 2001, but the 9/11 terrorist attacks changed priorities. After the success of the 2004 trials, USA Swimming wanted to be part of a permanent structure downtown, but funding went soft while city leaders argued over location.
Phooey on downtown. The city invested in a pretty, costly fish tank downtown, and it supported the Pike project that drained business from Pine Avenue and has become a ghost town. By all means, kill that idea.
The Belmont Plaza site is perfect. A good architect could find room for four pools and meet everyone's need; could build a stadium with retractable seating (a la the Long Beach State Pyramid) for major events; add diving towers; and perhaps find a way to open up one side of the facility for beach volleyball events in Olympian Misty May-Treanor's home town.
There's $62 million in the city's Tidelands Fund account for use.
Let's invest in our history and our future at the same time: Embrace our Olympic heritage and let those Olympians still around be the ones who pass on that lineage to our youth. No shortcuts, please. No one has ever won the 100-meter freestyle in an 80-meter pool.