Lap Swimmers Object To Preliminary Pool Schedule

January 28, 2010

Although he only wanted to ensure one of the city’s new pools would sometimes offer public swimming, Councilman Steven Segal opened another can of worms when he asked for a draft of the pool’s activities schedule.

Segal’s answer: Yes, there will be occasional public swimming at the West University Place Recreation Center. But West U. lap swimmers who saw the preliminary schedule became concerned that all the other planned activities will make the pool unavailable when they need it.

The pool at the West U. Recreation Center is still under construction, but people are already arguing about its schedule.

The pool at the West U. Recreation Center is still under construction, but people are already arguing about its schedule.

“We spent a lot of money on the new facilities, and it looks like we’ll get less lanes and less time,” said West U. resident Cathy Wright.

At a city council workshop on Jan. 25, a handful of lap swimmers in the audience nodded vigorously and mumbled encouragement when Councilman Chuck Guffey asked for more time for lap swimmers. Other officials thought the city council shouldn’t “micromanage” the pool schedule.

The schedule is sure to change once the Recreation Center gets up and running.

“I can’t emphasize enough this is definitely a work in progress,” said Parks and Recreation Director Tim O’Connor.

Staff members want to create a schedule that balances the needs of many pool users: Swimmers taking lessons, people in exercise classes, swim teams, and the lap swimmers.

According to the draft schedule, the Recreation Center’s pool would be reserved year round on Mondays through Fridays from 5 to 7 a.m. for adult lap swimming. There would also be one-hour chunks of time on weekend mornings when adults could swim alone.

At other times, lap swimmers would need to share the pool with people attending swimming lessons, water exercise and scuba classes, and public swim times. In those instances, the scheduled pool activities would take only a portion of the pool, leaving some lanes open for lap swimmers. This would be the case on weekends year round.

One of the main concerns of lap swimmers is that the pool doesn’t have a designated lap swimming time during the evenings, when people get off work.

“People who work only have mornings and evenings,” said West U. resident Frank Griffin. “Who were they looking after when they made the schedule?”

Also, the draft schedule does include blocks of time on Mondays through Fridays when no lanes would be available because activities like lessons, exercise and public swim would take up the entire pool.

From September to May, lap swimmers would be barred from the pool from 9 to 11 a.m., and there would be additional prohibited times during afternoons on alternating days. During summer months, the pool would be unavailable to lap swimmers for larger chunks of time. Swim teams, lessons and classes would use the pool from 7 to 11 a.m. and again from 4 to 7 p.m.

“I just kind of object to this 4 to 7 ‘no lap swimming.’ That doesn’t seem fair to me,” Guffey said. “Eight lanes for classes? We’ve never had that before.”

Guffey said instead of indicating “no lap lanes” would be available, the schedule should say, “Two-to-three lanes may be available.”

In the audience, a man nodded and exclaimed, “You go Chuck!”

Although staffers did agree to change the wording on the draft schedule, some officials cautioned against the city council becoming too involved in such minute details.

“I think the last thing we as a council are qualified to do is go micromanage the schedule at the pool,” said Councilman George Boehme. “I don’t thing we ought to decide what type of toilet paper we should buy in the bathrooms.”

City Manager Michael Ross said he thought the Parks and Recreation staff should have flexibility in determining the pool schedule.

“The last thing you want, believe me, is for us to have to come to the council meeting and get the next month’s schedule approved,” Ross said.

InstantNewsWestu Staff

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