Sunday, July 14, 2024

People continue to express concerns about City Pool

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The swim team met with city officials to discuss their concerns and to resolve differences last week. Meanwhile, community members continued to express concern about pool operations on Facebook, with a post in the Leavenworth Facebook group getting 71 likes and 62 comments.

The post by Derick Kuch expressed in part: “Only 1 open swim spot... am I the only one irritated about this? Do they really think more people come to swim laps then would enjoy the pool? There is absolutely nothing in Leavenworth for kids to do besides 2 hours a day for the pool?”

With limited hours and staffing issues, it has been hard for the pool to meet everyone’s demands. Swim team leaders say they would like to get their practice hours while other community members want more time for open swim or better times of day for lap swim.

Christie Voos, Communication Analyst for the City of Leavenworth said that the meeting between the swim team and city went well, and the two groups were able to get on the same page about a lot of things and figure out how to communicate better in the future. She said that all the boxes were checked for the swim team to continue with their season.

Nationwide, pools are having difficulties opening, including those close to home. The Wenatchee pool announced that a boiler failure on June 13 could shut down the pool for the summer, however the pool is still expected to reopen if a temporary repair to the boiler holds up, according to the Wenatchee World.

One-third to half of pools nationwide are expected to be affected by a hiring shortage, according to CNN. With the past two summers of the pandemic limiting swim team and lifeguard training, there are less certified lifeguards who can work.

Coal Fiano, son of swim team president Hailey Fiano, is a swim team member and works as a lifeguard. He said that he has been in the swim team for about ten years and that it has really improved his swimming skills. Fiano worries when he sees kids at the river who aren’t good swimmers.

“A couple years ago my brother tried to swim across the water, and I really didn’t want him to because he really wasn’t that strong of a swimmer then,” he said.

Fiano said that it is annoying that he must do the swim test everyday “because I pass it immediately. It's very pointless.” He said that waiting in line for the swim test takes five to twenty minutes and that he wished the pool was open more hours.

Swimming is Fiano’s favorite and “only” sport.

“I’m not very good at running,” he said, “Swimming is easier to do but it requires a lot more. It requires a lot more work… swimming you are always in the water, so you are always cool.”

Leora Aurilio, nineteen-year-old Leavenworth resident and daughter of city councilmember Marco Aurilio, said that she used to go to the pool every day when she was younger. She expressed her concerns at the city council meeting because she felt that the pool was not serving the community as well as it could.

Aurilio said that she no longer goes to open swim because with the limited hours and broken diving board it has lost its appeal. Further, she is busy during the limited hours that the pool is open. If she had the time, Aurilio said that she would consider being a lifeguard, but she already has another summer job.

“We do live by a really dangerous river. And I think it’s vital that every kid learns to swim, and the swim team provides a fun way to become a good swimmer,” she said.

Aurilio feels that the city council did not move early enough to try and get swim team and the pool started.

Voos says that it is not true that the city has not been listening to community members' concerns about the pool nor is it true that the city does not care. Many of the issues that community members wish would change are logistically difficult for the city to implement.
“I think there is an idea that we are not supportive of swim team or the pool and that’s just wrong. Because we are,” Voos said. “Our mayor actually got our legal counsel in touch with [swim team’s] insurance company to make sure everything was right, and we got the documents, and we had a backup plan.”  

Staffing issues limit the pool’s ability to expand hours, open on the weekends, or have more swim lessons. Voos said that the city is working towards being paperless so people can sign up for swim lessons online, but that it can be a slow process for cities to go paperless.

Voos said that it is difficult to answer whether the pool can give kids some sort of pass so that they don’t have to test every day in the future. Different pools have systems like wristbands that allow kids to not have to retest, but those systems are not foolproof, Voos said.

She said that safety is the first priority for the pool. That is why they have three lifeguards at a time and why coaches cannot be lifeguards during swim team, since lifeguards just need to focus on being a lifeguard.

Voos said that the city is still recruiting certified lifeguards and looking for people with weekend availability. At the beginning of the season, the city had the time to train more lifeguards, but they currently do not have the time to train uncertified lifeguards.

With limited lifeguards and hours, it will continue to be difficult to balance the needs of everyone in the community, Voos said, but the city is hoping to hire new lifeguards and expand services.

swim team, swimming, city pool, E26

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