Published on September 26, 2013
Training in Emma Lake was challenging, as there are no lanes and it is difficult to judge distances, but the swimmers made the best of it.
Published on September 26, 2013
The Prince Albert Sharks swim club was forced to do dry land training after the pool was closed due to a cryptosporidium scare in the city.
Published on September 26, 2013
Since they were denied access to the swimming pool in Prince Albert earlier this fall, the Sharks swim club headed out to Emma Lake for some training.
After facing problems with swimming pools in the city, the Sharks swim club is asking for support from other groups in planning for a new facility.
The pool was scheduled to be open by the first week of September, but the precautions the city took against a potential parasite caused the chlorine in the pool to skyrocket and it was not at safe levels in time for the swim club’s training schedule.
“The whole cryptosporidium scare, it was a scare, it wasn’t an actual thing that happened (in the Frank Dunn Pool),” Sharks head coach Roger Boucher said. “They took extra precaution in what they did. Due to that precaution, the chlorine levels were too high for the public or anyone to swim in. They are doing what they can so I can’t fault them for what they are doing.”
With the cryptosporidium scare, the Sharks were unable to start their season on time, Boucher said.
“The pool was closed, so it is pretty hard to train when there is no pool,” Boucher said.
In lieu of water training, Boucher tried to make due with dry land training -- they played Ultimate Frisbee in the park and did some circuit training with sit-ups, pushups and other land training.
“We got into the pool two nights and then the chlorine was so high we were out again,” Boucher said. “The kids were having a hard time with it. We got in the pool for three nights, played ultimate Frisbee for three and we had our awards banquet, which went really well.”
Since it was still relatively warm out and the swimmers were anxious to get in the water, the group took a drive to Emma Lake to try doing some training in the lake.
“It was a little cold for the swimmers,” Boucher said. “I would have liked it to be warmer. The weather was nice -- it wasn’t windy or anything like that, but how do you start your season as a swimmer without a pool?”
Since they did not have a pool for two weeks, the more advanced group is two weeks behind where they should be for both distance and work wise, Boucher said. The other group is only one week behind.
“We have a little bit of catching up to do,” Boucher said.
The cryptosporidium isn’t the first challenge the group has faced. About two years ago, during the water crisis, the pool was closed. Last season, the pool was closed early as well due to a fire in the mechanical area.
During the water crisis, Boucher said they travelled to Saskatoon four times a week for training since they had no other option.
Even this week they faced a challenge, when the fire alarm went off during practice and the swimmers were forced to stand outside in 8C for 10 minutes in their swimsuits.
With so many challenges facing the pool user groups, Boucher said they are working together to push for a new swimming facility.
“Right now we are starting to garnish support from other user groups and have them give support letters so we can go to city council and say this is needed,” Boucher said. “We do need a new pool anyway. The waterpark is falling apart. It is going to cost a lot of money. This place, the hot tub doesn’t work. It is 19 years old. The pool itself is in the 50s. It is dated.”
He would like to see a new facility that would work well for both competition and recreation.
If the city could plan for a 10-lane, 50-metre pool, they would have a facility that could potentially work for decades.
“It would be big for right now but it would be for the future,” Boucher said. “We don’t want to look for two years down the road -- we want to look for 20 years down the road. The city is going to grow. We don’t want to cut ourselves short -- we should be looking long term.”
With a large enough facility, programs and services would not have to be cut and all user groups would have more time in the pool.
“There could always be lane swimming available because if we had a big enough competition pool, lane swimming would be available (whenever the pool is open) sort of thing because the city could have their own programming during the day,” Boucher said. “Here, if we have a competition, the pool is closed.”
If there was a competition side and a recreation side, the recreation side could still be open to the public during competitions, much like the Shaw Centre in Saskatoon.
“That is kind of what we are looking at, but we make due,” Boucher said. “We figure out different ways to keep the swimmers involved and excited about what we are doing.”
He hopes other user groups will write letters of support to the city, asking council to consider building a new facility and stating what they would like to see.
“They all have their own specific needs and we would want them, with a letter of support, tell the city what they would need or require,” Boucher said. “We are trying to get any user group involved in the support and in the future it will be fundraising and different ideas to move forward from there.”
He understands if the city pushes the recreation side more than the competition side, but he wants to make sure the competitors’’ concerns are heard as well.
“They will have all new plumbing -- that’s what they need at the water park anyway -- and they will have all the facilities they want to make it something people want to come to,” Boucher said. “How many people drive to Melfort for the wave pool? It is an hour away. Let’s build something big enough that people want to come here.”
Parents of the swimmers also have concerns, but Boucher said they are approaching it in a calm manner.
“They express their concern but they are not really complaining to me because I don’t run the pool,” Boucher said. “I run the program and as long as my programming for the swimmers is as good as it can be -- there are times when the pool isn’t open so we look at what else we can do. They know my hands are tied.”
Although there are concerns about the current facilities, Boucher said he just wants to come up with solutions, not make the situation worse.
“I don’t want to be barking at the city -- if the pool is closed due to some sort of issue, it is not like I want to be down their throat all the time because that is a bad situation,” Boucher said.
He just keeps communication open with the city and asks that they keep him informed about pool issues.
“Ideally, they are doing the best they can as well,” Boucher said. “I don’t think that they are not. I’m sure they are doing everything they can.”
He also knows it will take more than the user groups and the city to come up with the money to build a new facility.
“Now we are looking forward to a new pool and look forward to the future -- we are pretty preliminary right now,” Boucher said. “We have only been talking to the user groups right now. Of course, any group that would be willing to help fundraise for a new pool in P.A., (everyone) would be extremely grateful for -- not just us. I realize the club is a very small portion of the user groups, which is why I know we need a proper recreation side as well as the competition side.”
Even though there are concerns about the current facility, Boucher said the club is looking forward to this season.
“I’m really excited about this year as the new head coach,” Boucher said. “I think we have a lot of really enthusiastic swimmers, even with all the little glitches. There are things that happen you have to roll with it. Hopefully, when we get a new facility, there won’t be so many things to roll with.”