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After the last swim meet on Jan. 21, more than 40 swim parents emailed Principal John McKinney and Athletic Director Kelli Kurle expressing dissatisfaction with the pool and its equipment. After 43 years of no major renovation or improvement, the district, administration and parents are working to accommodate the swimmers’ needs.
Varsity swimmers Joe McGuire and Hayden Linscott have held multiple meetings with Kurle to discuss the issues from a swimmer’s perspective.
“The water itself is pretty gross,” McGuire said. “You can write with your finger at the bottom of the pool, that’s how dirty it is.”
This summer the pool will be completely drained for the first time and refilled with new clean water. There is currently no air circulation in the pool facility, causing mold to form. Multiple boys have accumulated ongoing coughs from the poor air quality.
“I have to have an inhaler due to the nasty air and mold,” Linscott said. “It is so stuffy in there and we all get sick.”
The air ventilation system has been cleaned out once, but it takes multiple deep cleanings to completely get rid of all the trash, dust and mold that have built up in the vents. Linscott says after the first cleaning there has been no improvement in the quality of air.
Paula Longan, parent of varsity swimmers Bonnie and Ian, has tried for a very long time to get the district to realize the poor quality of the facility. Having two children in the program Longan has experienced the issue of bad air circulation during meets. She has often had to go outside throughout the meets to get fresh air.
“The quality of the pool has been a major concern of many parents for a long time since my kids always came home sick after swimming,” Longan said.
Another issue during the Jan. 21 meet was the scoreboard displaying the incorrect times and the touch pads were malfunctioning. The meet had to turn to manual, volunteer timers, to record each race which is not as accurate as the touch pads ending up in a tie against Blue Valley North. At each meet there is always two volunteer timers per lane, but times from the stopwatches are only used when the touch pads malfunction.
“My husband and I take the timing process very seriously,” Longan said. “We make sure to try to lean over to see the touch as best as we can so it is the most accurate.”
Kurle is currently working to get new touch pads, but the cost is over $5,000 so there must be multiple bids from different companies. The scoreboard is also looking at being replaced. The district has had a meeting with Kurle and McKinney to discuss what funds are needed to make the improvements necessary.
“We are very fortunate to finally have the district’s approval and support for the process,” Kurle said. “They were reluctant to help due to the new aquatic center opening up within the next few years, but they realize how extensive these issues were.”
There is duct tape holding the sound boards together and the starting blocks are wobbly. Linscott says that is hard to get a good start when the block isn’t stable. Kurle is trying to get new blocks, but not everything can be funded.The district has examined the diving boards and starting blocks to see if they are able to fund the expenses for new ones.
The All-Sports Booster Board agreed to giving a grant of $2,300 to fund new lane lines as they are 12 years old and are the bolts are ripping off of the ends. The district is working on getting a new storage reel for the lane lines.
Head Coach Wiley Wright has seen the East pool steadily decline in his 33 years of coaching.
“The pool was built back in 1973 so it has lasted a long time for how they built it,” Wright said. “It is time everything is updated to accommodate the size of the student body and swimmers.”